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Is Shop Drawing Review Necessary?

The OAA’s Practice Advisory Services (PAS) team was recently asked by a member if it was necessary for an architect to do shop drawing review. The architect wanted to find a way to cut her costs to reduce her fees. A few days later, a client called PAS to complain that their architect was insisting on reviewing shop drawings when the client didn’t want that service. 

Must an architect do shop drawing review or not? 

The short answer is, “It depends.” The review of shop drawings and other submittals is listed as Item 27 in GC2.1 of OAA 600. As with all items in the checklist, it can be selected as part of the construction phase scope of services to be provided by the architect or left unselected. 

However, there are also provisions in Regulation 27 under the Architects Act that apply. Section 49.10, under the heading “The following are prescribed as standards of practice,” reads: 

Where a member or holder provides general review of the construction, enlargement or alteration of a building to a design-builder, the member or holder must perform all of the services prescribed as performance standards by Section 50.” (Emphasis added.) 

Section 50 reads in part: 

“The following are prescribed as performance standards with respect to the general review of the construction, enlargement, or alteration of a building by a member or holder as provided for in the building code:

1. The member or holder, with respect to the matters that are governed by the building code, shall,

i. make periodic visits to the site to determine whether the work is in general conformity with the design documents that were prepared by a member or holder,

ii. inform the client and contractor in writing as to the progress and quality of the work and as to any part of the work that the member or holder has observed during the visits to the site not to be in conformity with the design documents,

iii. review all changes to the design documents to determine whether the changes conform to the building code,

iv. review and comment on shop drawings and samples for general conformity with the design concept of the work, and

v. if the member or holder is specifically engaged to co-ordinate the general review of the professional engineers and reports of the inspection and testing companies, co-ordinate the general review of the professional engineers and the reports of the inspection and testing companies that pertain directly to the work being reviewed and arrange for the distribution of such reports to the client and the contractor, or

vi. if the member or holder is not engaged to perform any or all of the services listed in subparagraph v, co-operate with the professional engineer responsible for the co-ordination of the general review in order to assist the professional engineer in the carrying out of the functions described in that subparagraph.” (Emphasis added.) 

This is significant since Regulation 27 under the Architects Act reads in Sections 42.9 and 42.10 that failing to maintain the standards of practice or performance standards of the profession is professional misconduct. 

What we find then, are three conditions: 

  1. Where an architect is retained to do general review, the review of shop drawings and samples is a required/mandatory part of the scope of the work. Failure to do shop drawing review in such circumstances would be professional misconduct.
  2. Where an architect is retained to do construction contract administration, but not general review, the review of shop drawings and samples is optional, depending on the needs of the client and what was agreed to in contract.
  3. Where an architect is not retained to do either construction contract administration or general review, the review of shop drawings and samples would not be the architect’s responsibility.
     
Condition 2 could occur because general review is not required for some projects under the Building Code Act. These are typically buildings that are three storeys or fewer in building height and 600 m2 or less in gross area that do not contain assembly, care, or detention occupancies. For such projects, if an architect is doing construction contract administration, shop drawing and sample review would depend on the contracted scope of work.