The Lifecycle of a Shop Drawing

Who creates shop drawings and what does the review process look like?

Nov 24, 2021

Shop drawings are an integral part of the construction process, effectively guiding project components from design intent to the detailed specifications required by tradespeople of all kinds. 

In its lifecycle, a shop drawing passes through many hands. Understanding the different parties involved and how each impacts the review process is essential to the integrity of the shop drawings – and the success of the project as a whole.

Shop drawings are not direct copies of the contract or design documents. Rather, they provide the details that manufacturers and fabricators need to bring design drawings to life.

In this post, we’ll walk through the ideal lifecycle of a shop drawing, sharing tips to help make your review process as smooth and effective as possible.

The Lifecycle of a Shop Drawing, Start to Finish

The shop drawing process starts at the beginning of the project, as soon as a subcontractor is awarded by the GC or Developer. 

What are shop drawing specifications?

The project specifications outline what shop drawings are required under each division. The General Contractor should create a list of the required submissions and their mandatory requirements to help format their submittal process. The shop drawings should be based on the current set of drawings and specifications that the subcontractor has at the time.

Who makes them?

Shop drawings are created by the Subcontractor awarded or any subcontractors/suppliers they’ve hired. If there is not enough information on the current drawing set, a Subcontractor may submit an RFI (Request for Information) to the GC for additional information from the consultant team.

Submission & GC Review

The subcontractor submits their completed shop drawings to the GC. Then the GC reviews it to ensure it fits the design intent, works within the system, and captures the overall scope of work. For example, a curtain wall shop drawing and a precast panel shop drawing will need to be coordinated in terms of dimensions and connection points.

The GC should review any notations on a shop drawing that state “by others” to determine whose scope of work applies and how it will be coordinated.

Prime Consultant Review & Distribution

The GC forwards their approved shop drawing to the Prime Consultant. The Prime Consultant distributes to the consultant team for review, then follows up to ensure that the review deadlines outlined in the contract are kept.

GC & Subcontractor Review

The Prime Consultant returns their reviewed shop drawings to the GC. If the shop drawing requires further coordination or is marked ‘Revise and Resubmit’ another revision will be submitted. It can also be helpful to have a coordination meeting for complicated or unique systems to ensure the subcontractors, GC, and consultants are on the same page. Having a meeting can be helpful in order to avoid multiple ‘Revise and Resubmits’

The GC reviews and sends it back to the subcontractor for their review. As the number of shop drawings can be overwhelming on large projects, it’s helpful if the GC provides a priority list for the team to work through. 

Finalizing Shop Drawings

All reviewed shop drawings should be kept on-site for the GC and consultant team to reference throughout construction.

The shop drawing process and project are most successful when the GC, Subcontractors, and Consultant team work together. This can reduce the volume of ‘revise and resubmits,’ as well as misunderstandings about what is expected in order to meet the design intent.