Shop Drawings is about how a leading custom residential Architect in the USA offers Construction Administration services, including Shop Drawing reviews for their Clients.
When this occurs: during construction of the project.
It is a very good idea to pay your Architect to perform Construction Administration (CA), including Shop Drawing Review services.
Building a house is a very complex activity and before it is built, no one knows the detailed requirements and design better than the Architect. Mistakes can and will be made without the Architect’s participation during Construction.
No: this is not a free service. It requires a great deal of time, focus and experience to understand the detailed submittals made by the GC (General Contractor) and his/her subcontractors and material suppliers. Most Architects will charge by the hour for CA services.
“Oh: won’t the local Building Department make sure my house gets built in accordance with my Architect’s plans and specs?”
NO. They will not. That’s not their job. No one pays them to do that. They don’t care what the Architect’s drawings indicate. All they care about are Building Code MINIMUMS. As long as they see those in the project, they could care less what the Contractor does, and even those are often missed by local building inspectors. They are not very highly paid and while it may be possible, we’ve never seen a licensed Architect, Engineer or Contractor working in this capacity for any Building Department. So: their qualifications may not be commensurate with the task at hand.
“Okay. But I trust my Builder. He/she will build the house according to the Architect’s drawings and specifications, won’t he?”
NO. He/she will NOT. Every Builder thinks they know better than anyone else what they should be using and how it should be put together. And very rarely, will most Builders, take the time to properly review Shop Drawings and submittals. It’s a time-intensive task. Why: if the Architect is involved, they sort of expect them to catch the problems.
They use the same subcontractors over and over again and are used to what those suppliers do. This familiarity can result in mistakes, because there could be a frame of mind that everything is similar. That’s when special requirements could possibly be missed. We will review some of those below. And, the Builder doesn’t necessarily care about what the Architect said to do or how, if he isn’t involved during the construction of the project. You are the one paying them and all they care about is making you happy. This can result in a glossing over of the Architect’s details and specifications and unauthorized cheaper substitutions. This can result in a cheaper, less durable, less energy efficient project that will have more frequent maintenance and higher monthly energy bills and rot, mold growth and dangerous structural conditions. Only a very few, higher-class General Contractors do a better job of coordinating. They are the exception to the rule.
Quite simply: you are paying a person (the GC) to build your house hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps more) and you are going to trust them to do EVERYTHING perfectly? Really? If so, you are being penny-wise and pound-foolish. The cost of your Architect during construction, checking the various submittals (including Shop Drawings) results in a Quality Control method that catches many of the errors that would otherwise occur. Without this oversight, you have the fox guarding the hen-house. Although, it is not necessarily intentional, when some GCs don’t build in accordance with the Architect’s documents. They just missed it. Get smart: pay your Architect to perform Construction Administration with Shop Drawing reviews.