Every Architect’s Dream – Reviewing Shop Drawings

Written by on November 13, 2011 in Construction Docs. - Comments Off

Architects provide shelter for the public.

That being said, when you are reviewing shop drawings, say for instance a surface finish which could be anything from wood paneling to a decorative grille or a decorative finish. You should bear in mind first and foremost life safety which entails flame spread ratings or surface burning characteristics and building codes.

Before we get started, check out the new finishes from 3M, pretty cool stuff. 3M calls it their “DI-NOC™” Series. Yes we know its expensive or not as economical as say, primer and two coats of interior grade paint. But the series still delivers a unique aesthetic.

Four Filters of Evaluation when reviewing Shop Drawings (in order of priority)

1. Fire Safety

2. Structural Integrity (i.e. Attachment Method)

3. Safety from Contact

4. Maintenance

Fire Safety involves two parts: one making sure that the surface finish material meets the code requirements for surface finishes and two determine the Surface Burning Characteristics Rating (Formerly Flame Spread Rating) which ranges from 0-100.
Side Note: Due to a major screwup in the late 1940′s and early 1950′s combustible acoustical tile was used on ceilings which resulted in the loss of many lives which led to the beginnings of the flame spread rating system.

The codes which cover Surface Burning Characteristics or Flame Spread are the NFPA Standard No. 255 – Method of Test of Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials, the Standard E-84 of the American Society for Testing and Materials, and No. 723 of Underwriters’ Laboratories, Incorporated.

Structural Integrity simply means your method of attachment;l whether the material is adhered, mechanically fastened, so forth and so on. Keeping in mind public safety, you want the most secure attachment method possible (which keeps the aesthetic you like of course) this is because during an earthquake the surface finish will not fall and damage person nor property during and after the evacuation of the building. (Structures comes to mind)

Safety from Contact is synonymous with seeing beveled edges on corners when you walk through a building. If an occupant runs their hand along a surface finish or touches a surface – we do not want them to injure themselves due to the product deteriorating or splintering due to their touch.


Occupants love touching walls so choose wisely when selecting a wall color Credit: Beautiful model Jennifer Adaku Akabue

If you are using wood paneling you want to make sure that the material is properly finished. If it is not properly finished, this would be an item to be addressed when you generate your punch list at substantial completion.

Maintenance feeds back into the captioned picture above. If you want your interiors to look brand new for at least thirty years you will need to consider the method of maintenance required on the surface finish. Factors of importance are whether or not the finish can be wiped down with just basic household cleaners or specific solutions purchased from the manufacturer are required.

Or does a certified maintenance person from the company have to come on-site and clean everything. In each of these scenarios, one costs more than the other and given the fun roller coaster ride called the economy – sometimes you have less staff than needed to do a considerable amount of work.

To further discuss shop drawings in detail visit Design Cost Data and for shop drawing graphics visit WikiPedia.


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