Constructability Reviews

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Technical Review of Construction Documents

I have been checking and reviewing architectural drawings (and related consultant drawings) and specifications for building projects for 35 years. Experience with unexpected change orders and observations of post-construction issues have sharpened my ability to spot gaps and inconsistencies in construction documents. The following are examples from a list of questions I generally consider in a review of construction documents:

1.    Do the drawing views (plans, elevations, sections, etc.) relate to each other well and come together as a cohesive and coordinated picture of the building? Do the basic views contradict each other? Is cross-referencing coherent?

2.    Do the drawings include sufficient views and information to illustrate and convey requirements related to the building enclosure configuration, including recesses, projections, ups and downs, material changes, air barriers and their connections, vapor control layers, and other construction conditions?

5.    Are details buildable? Do details allow for a basic, conventional sequence* of construction, or do they suggest an impractical approach, requiring, for example, the installation of finish materials before structure? (Attention to detail is always important but is especially important for projects that employ 3D modeling software and demand a subtractive approach to detailing vs. a conventional additive approach to detail development.)(*Although sequence is generally understood to be a contractor responsibility, the architect’s details should be in keeping with a reasonable sequence of construction.)

6.    Are roof slopes and drainage adequate? (This can be a problem area for buildings with low-slope roofs, especially if the designers focus exclusively on other matters or have difficulty visualizing low slope drainage conditions.)

8.    Do features of the building’s design challenge the weather-resistive performance of the building enclosure? (Do the features necessitate special attention to details and materials?)

16.   Are consultant drawings coordinated with architectural drawings and with other consultant drawings?

         a.    Are structural levels consistent with architectural levels? Do foundation, top-of-wall, top-of-steel, and deck elevations agree with related architectural information?

         c.    Do the structural drawings include the information referenced on the architectural drawings by notes such as “See Structural”? Conversely, where structural drawings refer to architectural drawings for information, do the architectural    drawings include the referenced information?

         d.    Are site utilities drawings coordinated with mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP&FP) drawings in terms of utility locations, inverts, sizes, site-to-building connections, and connections by one trade to equipment by another?


       21.    Are specifications complete and consistent with drawings in terms of materials and products to be used (e.g., if membrane roofing is indicated on the drawings by type, does the type specified agree with the type noted on the drawings)?

       23.    Are specifications complete with regard to bidding requirements established in applicable public laws (e.g., MGL c.149/149a)?

      The extent of a review of construction documents depends on the budget for the review, the available review time, the condition and completeness of the drawings and specifications, and the agreed scope of the review. The project’s architect maintains responsibility for deciding how to proceed in response to review comments, and the review does not relieve the project’s architect of any professional responsibilities or liability, nor is there any transfer of that responsibility and liability to the reviewer.

Reviews can also be tailored to focus on specific matters such as building code compliance, accessibility compliance, or other criteria either exclusively or in combination with a basic constructability review.

See also Constructability Reviews: From the Ground Up.

Contact Al Russell for more information. Ask for references.