Once the general contractor has been selected and the contract awarded, the construction work begins, as described in the   contract documents  . The contract documents are virtually the same as the bidding documents, except that the contract documents are part of a signed legal contract between the owner and the contractor. They generally do not contain Division 00 of the MasterFormat.

In preparing the contract documents, the design team’s challenge is to efficiently produce the graphics and text that effectively communicate the design intent to the construction professionals and the related product suppliers and manufacturers so that they can do the following:

  •    Propose accurate and competitive bids
  •    Prepare detailed and descriptive submittals for approval
  •    Construct the building with a minimum number of questions, revisions, and changes

The construction drawings and the specifications should provide a fairly detailed delineation of the building. However, they do not describe it to the extent that fabricators can produce building components directly from them. Therefore, the fabricators generate their own drawings, referred to as   shop drawings , to provide the higher level of detail necessary to fabricate and assemble the components.

Shop drawings are not generic, consisting of manufacturers’ or suppliers’ catalogs, but  are specially prepared for the project by the manufacturer, fabricator, erector, or subcontractors. For example, an aluminum window manufacturer must produce shop drawings to show that the required windows conform with the construction drawings and the specifications. Similarly, precast concrete panels, stone cladding, structural steel frame, marble or  granite flooring, air-conditioning ducts, and other components require shop drawings  before they are fabricated and installed.

Before commencing fabrication, the fabricator submits the shop drawings to the general  contractor. The general contractor reviews them, marks them “approved,” if appropriate, and then submits them to the architect for review and approval. Subcontractors or   manufacturers cannot submit shop drawings directly to the architect.

The review of all shop drawings is coordinated through the architect, even though they may actually be reviewed in detail by the appropriate consultant. Thus, the shop drawings pertaining to  structural components are sent to the architect and then to the structural consultant for review and approval. The fabricator generally begins fabrication only after receiving the architect’s review of the shop drawings.

The review of shop drawings by the architect is limited to checking that the work indicated therein conforms with the overall design intent shown in the contract documents. Approval of shop drawings that are later discovered to deviate from the  contract documents does not absolve the general contractor of the responsibility to comply with the contract documents for quality of materials, workmanship, or the dimensions of the fabricated components,  Figure  1.9.


In addition to shop drawings, full-size mock-up samples of one or more critical elements of the building may be required in some projects. This is done to establish the quality of materials and workmanship by which the completed work will be judged. For example, it is not unusual for the architect to ask for a mock-up of a  typical area of the curtain wall of a high-rise building before the fabrication of the actual curtain wall is undertaken. Mock-up samples go through the same approval process as the shop drawings.


In addition to shop drawings and any mock-up samples, some other submittals required from the contractor for the architect’s review are:

•   Product  material  samples 
•   Product  data 
•   Certifications
•   Calculations

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