What Is a Shop Drawing in Construction? Understanding Key Differences

June 11, 2024

Before actual construction, various drawing sets prepared by architects and contractors are crucial for the successful completion of building projects. Construction drawings and shop drawings are two essential types predominantly used in complex and large-scale projects. This article explores the key differences between construction drawings and shop drawings, highlighting their roles, creation process, and importance in construction projects.

## Definition and Purpose

### Construction Drawings (CD Sets)

Construction drawings, also known as architectural construction documents or working drawings, are prepared by architects. These drawings visualize architectural elements before construction begins and are sometimes called IFC (Issued for Construction) drawings. They aid in precise decision-making and support bid estimates.

### Shop Drawings

Shop drawings are used by fabricators for component manufacturing and installation. They provide greater detail than construction drawings and are essential for accurate fabrication, assembly, and installation of components.

## Case Studies

For example, Hitech BIM Services has converted PDF markup drawings into a clash-free 3D MEP model at LOD 400, aiding in accurate fabrication and installation. Another project by Hitech BIM Services involved creating Revit models and extracting shop drawings for an institutional project in Europe, achieving cost savings and first-time-right (FTR) deliverables.

## Key Differences

### Responsibility for Creation

**Construction Drawings:** Created by architects or engineers at the owner's request.
**Shop Drawings:** Created by contractors, sub-contractors, manufacturers, or suppliers post-contract signing.

### Timing

**Construction Drawings:** Produced before the start of construction.
**Shop Drawings:** Produced after contract drawings and as per project specifications.

### Purpose

**Construction Drawings:** Detail architectural components and include overall project structures, appearances, materials, equipment performance, and fixture connections. Used for bidding and cost estimation.
**Shop Drawings:** Focus on design intent, field conditions, and manufacturing details. They include detailed components such as beams, trusses, etc., and are produced by various subcontractors for approval.

"shop drawing detail" by Caliper Studio is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/.

### Accuracy

**Construction Drawings:** May contain errors as they precede contractor hiring and are marked with "Verify-in-Field" labels.
**Shop Drawings:** Highly detailed with accurate dimensions and assembly instructions.

### Liabilities and Risks

**Construction Drawings:** Marked "Not for Construction" to minimize owner risks; represent the entire scope of work.
**Shop Drawings:** Reflect contractor’s specific work scope and require team approval; serve as step-by-step assembly manuals.

## Required Details in Drawings

### Construction Drawings

- Elevations
- Plans (Framing, Utility, Roof, Electrical & Lighting)
- Details (Interior & Exterior, Structural)
- Sections
- Schedules (Doors and Windows)
- Finishes
- MEP information

### Shop Drawings

- Component identification tags
- Interference details
- Site coordinates
- Opening sizes
- Sequence of drawings
- Clearance and assembly details
- Section views
- Notes on changes
- Title block with project details
- Initial and revision dates
- Fabrication and installation data

By understanding and differentiating between construction drawings and shop drawings, project stakeholders can ensure efficient planning, execution, and successful completion of construction projects.

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