Sometimes there is a bit of anxiety on the part of consultants on how far to go in the review of a shop drawing. This anxiety can be reduced by understanding a little bit of the purpose and intent of shop drawings along with the responsibilities of the contractor in the process.
The CCDC 2 definition of a shop drawing is:
Shop drawings are drawings, diagrams, illustrations, schedules, performance charts, brochures, product data, and other data which the contractor provides to illustrate details of portions of the work.
Key phrase here is contractor provides, both the CCDC and AIA state that it is the responsibility of the contractor to collect, organize, review and approve the shop drawings before submitting them to the consultant. The shop drawings are submitted in accordance with the shop drawing submission schedule to avoid the shop drawing dump, maintain an orderly process and provide the consultant with adequate time for review.
It is imperative that only the contractor submit the shop drawing in order to maintain a clear line of communication and accountability between the consultant and the contractor. Sometimes to speed up the process the consultant can allow for submissions directly to sub-consultants as long as the prime consultant receives copies at the same time.
The golden rule in Shop drawing review is:
“If the submittal has not been reviewed and first approved by the contractor, return it to re-submit.”
Many real problems can arise if shop drawings are accepted that have not first been reviewed by the contractor. How can the contractor:
- follow the submittal schedule
- collect and organize shop drawings from the sub-contractors and suppliers
- check accuracy and completeness of dimensions and quantities
- coordinate work of the trades
- order materials and equipment on time
- and finally confirm that the requirements of the contract documents are being met without any knowledge of the shop drawings he is submitting?
Without having first-hand knowledge of the shop drawings, the project will certainly end up in dire straits not only in quality, but schedule and budget as well. The consultant is not being hired to construct the project, that is the job of the contractor.
As the consultant, your contract drawings and specifications are in essence conceptual, and a guide for the design intent of the finished product. It is the contractors shop drawings that will fill in the detail and provide the necessary information to construct the project. Also, keep in mind that the shop drawings are not the consultant’s drawings or part of the contract documents, they belong to the contractor, and show how he intends to build the project in accordance with your design.
Most contractors are aware of their responsibilities and deserve a lot of respect and admiration for their ability to successfully build many of the projects we see today. One stunning example is the Florida PolyTechnic University building designed by Santiago Calatrava, and construction managed by Skanska USA. Here is the perfect example of skilled contractors providing the construction detail turning the architectural design concept into a reality. Read more about the coordination in this ENR Florida Polytechnical University, see the some great project photos by MacBeth photo (as well as their time lapse video). I know I have a new appreciation for shop drawing review, and don’t forget RForm helps you to manage submittals and shop drawings as well.