Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Drawing review: measure thrice, issue once - Part 1

I recently issued a set of construction documents for a major interior renovation project, and the process reminded me of how important checking the drawings really is. If you spend a lot of time producing the construction documents, you need at least one other person, but ideally two other people, to look at the drawings aside from you. Remember how your English professors in college would tell you that you need to let your paper sit for a few days so you can review it with fresh eyes, or that you should turn in a rough draft to him/her for review or have someone else read it? That's because after working on it for so long, you can't see the mistakes in your work. The same thing happens with drawings--fresh eyes can find discrepancies, problems, and unclear or lacking details or plans.

So who should review the CDs? Ideally, the two parties in your office looking at them would be 1) whoever's stamp is going to be on the architectural sheets, and 2) a licensed architect, preferably one who is familiar with the kind of project that you're doing. If that second architect is familiar with the client as well, all the better...but not necessary. What you want is fresh but skilled eyes. You want people who know what should be in a set of CDs and how they should look, but you want someone who hasn't really seen these drawings as much as you have. And while the person stamping the drawings may have some idea what's in the drawings, they won't know them the way you do. Plus, if they're going to put their stamp on some drawings, they should know what they're about to stamp. Remember: if something ever goes terribly wrong with a project, it's the name on the stamp that gets blamed.

Who else might help you benefit from seeing the drawings? Your consultants, for one. It's always good for you and your consultants to trade drawings (usually your sheets in a PDF form if you aren't both working in Revit and have Revit models to trade) so you can see what the other is up to. If you have a contractor on board, a project can benefit from their point of view--after all, they're the end users of the CDs. If anything is unclear, or even if something has been included in a project for which the contractor did not include money in the budget, they can catch it before it becomes an RFI at best or an expensive surprise at worst.

The thing to remember about having someone else review your drawings is making sure they have enough time. Three weeks before the CDs are due, ask your manager who all needs to review the drawings, and make sure every gets at least a week for review. When you send the drawings out (whether in hard copy or PDF form), make sure everyone knows when you need comments back by in order to get everything in the set.

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