What Are Shop Drawings?

What Are Shop Drawings?
By Brian M. Curran

I started back in the AEC industry in the late nineties, and it probably wasn’t long after that when I first heard the phrase “shop drawings”. I’m sure the phrase conjured up pictures in my imagine as I thought about the meaning of that phrase, and now many years later I’ll answer the same question that put my imagination in gear back then, namely “What are shop drawings?”

Since I have years of experience in the AEC Industry, through which hands-on I have learned a thing or two about shop drawings, for this article I think the best way to answer the question at hand is to: Do a short web query on the topic, then to quickly parse through a few of the results, and finally to offer up a consolidating statement by tying together my experience and web query results.

With having just mentioned my web search method to collecting some definitions, I actually didn’t start on the web, if that makes sense! Rather I first started on my bookshelf and found that The Means Illustrated Construction Dictionary Third Edition Unabridged defined shop drawings as, “Drawings created by a contractor, subcontractor, vendor, manufacturer, or other entity that illustrate construction, materials, dimensions, installation, and other pertinent information for the incorporation of an element or item into the construction.”

Then I moved onto the web as I said I would, and dug up two more definitions. The first of my web definitions was from the online AIA Document Commentary, A201-2007 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction which stated in section 3.12.1, “Shop Drawings are drawings, diagrams, schedules and other data specially prepared for the Work by the Contractor or a Subcontractor, Sub-subcontractor, manufacturer, supplier or distributor to illustrate some portion of the Work.”

Lastly, my web query results turned up Wikipedia’s site. They externally cited R Pietroforte (1997)(PDF), Construction Management & Economics, Taylor & Francis Retrieved 2007-02-23, which gave a definition of, “A shop drawing is a drawing or set of drawings produced by the contractor, supplier, manufacturer, subcontractor, or fabricator.”

With these three definitions I have a mini sample set of definitions, so that I can check for consistency amongst them, and compare them to my life’s experience within the AEC Industry. Considering just that I think the definitions are fairly consistent, and do pretty good job of explaining what shop drawings are without needing any extra explanation. Regardless though, let me further clarify what the definitions are saying through a hypothetical example.

Lets say that there is a man who wants a 20 story building constructed, and so he hires an Architecture / Engineering firm to put together the construction documents for doing so. Well, the construction documents, which will be taken in hand by a Contractor who will actually construct the building, some times don’t have all the information that the Contractor will need in order for him to complete the construction of the building. This is where shop drawings come in. They act as the bridge that fills in the gap between the contract documents and the Contractor.

This example admittedly doesn’t cover all the varying scenarios in which shop drawings are used, but I do hope it can be extrapolated upon in order to better understand a different shop drawing situation.

About the author: From New York City Brian M. Curran runs a CAD drafting service that provides outsourced AutoCAD drafting services to AEC industry companies, homeowners and others with CAD drafting needs throughout the entire United States. His CAD services include, but are not limited to: Building Surveys / As-built drawings of: building systems, building elevations, roof plans, floor plans, and reflected ceiling plans. Also, hand sketches converted into AutoCAD format, Paper-to-CAD conversions, structural drawings, steel detailing, rebar placing drawings and construction logistics drawings. For more information on Brian M. Curran’s Computer Drafting Business, please visit: http://www.draftingservices.com

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Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email info@a4architect.com. Telephone +254721410684


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