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Quality Assurance of Drawings

brandonjones

I'm doing some research on the quality assurance process of design drawings. Can anyone share with me some of the most common problems architects have to deal with on a daily basis and how often they occur (i.e. RFIs, submittals, or anything else)?

 
Jul 6, 20 4:33 pm
senjohnblutarsky

Are you?

Doing research?


Jul 6, 20 4:38 pm  · 
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brandonjones

Yes, I am. I'm trying to find common issues that architects face from contractors in hopes to find a solution or better way to avoid these pains between these two teams in the future.

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Almosthip

The biggest problem are contractors that dont even open the drawings before they get on the phone to ask the designer a question.

Jul 6, 20 5:32 pm  · 
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Almosthip

example:

Contractor: "How far apart are the control joints in the concrete?" 

Designer: "Did you look at the typical detail on sheet yadda yadda yadda?" 

Contractor; "ummmm No"

2  · 
natematt

....or contractors that just build the thing without looking at the drawings or getting on the phone with the designer?

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The biggest problem I see is a lack of coordination between disciplines - especially MEP.  That and using different verbiage to describe the same "thing" on different pages of of the drawings.  

Jul 6, 20 5:44 pm  · 
5  · 
randomised

Consultants for electrical or mechanical, plumbing just sending a printout of a floorplan you drew or whatever drawing they've received and just scribbling something undecipherable on it with a red pen, that you'll have to translate into the BIM model, good luck with assuring the quality of scribbles...

And contractors asking you for the specific drawings of such and such but then not even reading them or doing it their own way (and complain when they have to redo the work).

Jul 6, 20 5:59 pm  · 
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We are implementing a section in our consultants contracts that if MEP systems and components are not modeled in Revit in there actual location then we back charge the consultant for the time it takes to model them correctly in our drawings. Things like mech equipment, ducting, pipes, fixtures, ect.

6  · 
proto

interesting

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Non Sequitur

Chad, I love that clause. I’ll try to work something along those lines next large BiM project.

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SneakyPete

I hear the MEP's lawyers sharpening their red pens.

2  · 

Well our contracts say that our consultants are to model their work to defined level of accuracy so if they sharpen red pens (not sure how you do that) we'll do the same but instead just use red pencil. :)

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athensarch

Chad, I would love to see this more often. One medium size firm (60-70people) I work with have tried referencing different LoDs for the different components of systems. My firm uses the AGC BIMForum spec as a basis. I’ve seen too many bottom barrel MEP Engineers use Revit as a 2D drafting tool, which defeats the purpose of BIM.

2  · 
joseffischer

yeah, I keep showing LOD lists linked to revit families as a contract exhibit and some of the owners are like oh, that's a great idea, but it still hasn't made it into a contract yet... at least I've convinced them that if we can't get specific, to never agree to more than LOD 200... we've been burned pretty bad by LOD 400 language and generally touting our office as LOD 400 under the concept that "everyone provides 300, and we want to be a bit better, but 500 sounds like too much"...

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mightyaa

What is the purpose?  QAQC of the drawing sets, or field issues?  They are wholly separate problems.   Biased as a Forensic who’s reviewed a ton of drawings and the associated damages.

On the drawing side; Expression of a very 3-dimensional element onto a 2-dimensional plane.  Even though most are using Revit and building the model, the drawing representation is still 2-dimensional.  Most errors tend to occur at ill-conceived interfaces.  Example: A saddle-flash or pan-flash are very 3d.  Or maybe where different materials intersect at a corner.

Other typical ones; Not coordinating the spec’s or manufacturer guidelines with the drawings or even knowing what they call out.  So the stucco specs might reference ASTM C-926 which has specifics about control joint spacing… and the arch elevations aren’t coordinated and violate the standard.  James Hardie has a ton of requirements about flashing… regularly see architect drawings conflict.  Ditto with WRB’s, Tyvek, most roofing, siding, window, etc. 

Coordination issues: Read the Geotech… it isn’t a menu of pick and choose.  Talk to structural about deflection, wood shrinkage, etc.  If you know it is going to move, you can design where that occurs and how to handle it. 

Budget issues; Multiple ways to assemble stuff.  But sometimes there are expensive ways.  Understanding how much stuff costs and what you are trying to achieve can save a lot of budget woes.  Example; A free standing canopy post on expansive soils will be about $10k just to drill a caisson to support it.  Assuming two of them; $20k can go a long way in cool-as-shit structural cantilevers instead of those two ratty ass 6x6 post you designed. Seriously; If you spend through design $20k to set $60 bucks of pos 6x6 posts, you're doing it wrong. 

And the list goes on and on.

Jul 6, 20 7:52 pm  · 
3  · 
brandonjones

My main purpose is looking at solutions to errors found within the construction drawings in order to reduce the amount of RFIs but in order to do that I need to know what issues other people have experienced.

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mightyaa

I'd suggest getting "Contractor's Guide to Change Orders". Basically, its a book telling contractors how to find holes in drawing sets and get a change order. The process normally starts with an RFI.

2  · 
thatsthat

Mighty, I was going to suggest this too. This book is on my list to buy as well. I've heard it's really helpful.

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thatsthat

If a contractor can't figure out something within 2 minutes (5 minutes for someone who really tries) they'll send an RFI.  A lot of RFIs can be eliminated by putting together a clear and well-coordinate set of documents.  Word your notes so that they can be easily understood.  Don't hide notes in the fold. Coordinate your documents (and your consultants).  Rely on industry standards as much as possible. Clarify your design intent.  Pick up the phone and call a contractor if you have questions.  (In exchange, let them know to look out for your documents and a potential bid date for the project.) Pick up the phone and call a tech rep if you're unsure about a product. Documents form the basis of a contract and should be treated as such.  Don't leave design decisions until CA!  The more you leave out, the more agency the contractor has to make decisions.  And who really wants that?!

Jul 7, 20 10:41 am  · 
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mightyaa

lol.. exactly. Particularly I hate the phone camera and vague text messages. The advent of smart phone tech basically means your GC doesn't think much about just sending a question. The 'old days' were better; they had to write out a fax and it was such a pita, they'd look at the drawings closer or wait for the field visit to discuss it.

2  · 
thatsthat

I know what you mean. Some GCs don't even send legible questions. It's just "flashing?" along with a fuzzy close up of some sheet metal somewhere on site... ummm I don't know what that means! Honestly, I'm at the point where it's not worth my time to try to figure out the question and then respond.

1  · 

If you have an owner that will play along, threaten the GC that the owner will start deducting from the cost of the work the A/E's time spent on responding to frivolous RFIs. Then start documenting everything as frivolous that doesn't meet the letter of a valid RFI as defined in the General Requirements.

1  · 
joseffischer

If you have an owner that will play along.... *sigh*

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Yeah, it's a big caveat I put in there. Sometimes the owner doesn't necessarily need to play along. Some standard owner-architect agreements have things like this already identified as additional services for the architect.* It doesn't carry the same weight for the contractor though unless they are the ones that ultimately pay for the additional time spent. 

That said, us architects try to keep the owner too happy most of the time and we don't charge for things like this even when it is spelled out in our agreement. 


*For an example, see AIA B101, Section 4.2.2.2.

1  · 
brandonjones

Has there been any software that can be used to help eliminate any potential errors within the drawings?

Jul 7, 20 11:20 am  · 
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Non Sequitur

No. software is never the answer

2  · 
mightyaa

There are some things: Revit is good at coordinating cross disciplines so everyone is on the same base model. I'm sure someone more familiar can correct me, but I think it has the ability to find geometry conflicts. Additionally, there are Revit add in's like e-Specs to assist in coordinating the specifications with family groups and keynotes. I also used some basic structural software to double check my structural engineer if I thought something looked off. Online, there are other calculators like dew point. Other software like energy analysis, solar, etc. So there are coordination and backcheck tools, however they are only as good as the monkey beating on the keyboard and knowing what to look for.

1  · 

"So there are coordination and backcheck tools, however they are only as good as the monkey beating on the keyboard and knowing what to look for."

^This. 1000% this.

1  · 
joseffischer

I don't like how "extra" in the workflow it is now to update something like a ceiling plan when MEP can't/won't coordinate properly in time. It used to be in CAD, I could just be like "GC, just look at my RCPs, they're correct" Now, the time for RCPs is under an hour "just link everything in, it should look great, if it doesn't, tell the consultants to fix it" and then I have to tab-select liinked elements, hide them, go into their model to grab their family and place them in my model at the correct location, etc...

When workflows have been condensed to be measured in minutes, hour long hiccups become problematic

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SlammingMiruvor

Scheduling software would be the most useful to extend deadlines by two weeks. One full week for arch review/coordination of sub-consultant drawings and another week for said consultants (+arch) to remedy their work.

I'd bet that Autodesk, Bluebeam, Newforma, Lumion, Keynote Manager, Asana, etc. all tout increased efficiency, elimination of design errors, and streamlined project management. At the end of the day you'd be hard pressed to convince me that they can replace a pencil's down submission and full review period. A 95% submittal if you will. 

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archinine
Most common problems are inexperienced people (can be GC or architects) GCs who won’t/can’t read the drawings, architects and or engineers who make crappy drawings, and unforeseen existing conditions. Products no longer or not readily available is also common. You can’t fix these with software. Work in the field, you’ll soon learn all the common problems and their sources
Jul 7, 20 8:27 pm  · 
4  · 
ottohammer

The most prevalent issues are thoroughly trained team members (it can be either GC or architects, or subconsultants) It a matter of comprehending the drawings and their intent also some  Architects and or Engineers who rely upon copy and paste solutions without reviewing the potential unforeseen existing conditions. Also materials research products no longer or not readily available is also common; this becomes apparent in copy and paste specifications. These are not resolved with with software but are resolved with knowledge. When field work is given higher priority in the education of all player, the issues reduce. Book learning can only take you so far. 

Jul 9, 20 2:16 pm  · 
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brandonjones

Thanks for the feedback. Can you tell me how much time is typically spent reviewing drawings for coordination purposes? I imagine most design firms have a peer review system in place across disciplines.

Jul 14, 20 2:16 pm  · 
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In the office I work in a 100,000 sf middle school it took around 40 hours for just the architectural drawings (CD's) to be reviewed and red lined. The coordination between disciplines took much longer due to the project being a fast track delivery method.

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joseffischer

We have QC review, the QC redline set is almost always given back to the design team after the deadline has passed. QC is given typically 3 days to do the review and is reviewed off of something that looks like 70% completion set but is typically called 90%...

If I had it my way on major projects (which would still be tight and require people with specific skills)  Every permit/contract deadline (forget the intermediary or SD DD phase stuff) would have an internal deadline 2 weeks before the date.  A QC person like myself would be given 40-60 hours to review the set, due 5 business days after put on their desk.  The design team would then have a week to pick up comments.  On day one the QC person would need to give the greenlight to the principal in charge, saying in effect "this set is good enough that the team will be able to pick up my redlines"  otherwise, the deadline would need to be pushed.


2  · 
thatsthat

joseffischer, do you also review specs as part of your QC process? A few of us at my firm have been pushing for a QC process similar to what you're describing as the optimal situation, but have yet to make any headway with implementation.  In my situation, we wouldn't necessarily have a dedicated QC person per se.  It would be a project manager or project architect reviewing for a team they are not a part of.

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curtkram

you should set aside 3% of your fee for QA/qc

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May I ask how you came up with that number curtkarm?

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natematt

That sounds like a dream world Josef... i like it. Though, i would also prefer if there were a little more talk between the reviewers and the design team. I see a lot of comments that frankly are unneeded because the reviewer isn't as familiar with the project, systems, or approach.

1  · 

natematt, if the reviewer can't figure out the project, systems, or approach during the course of their review ... can we expect the contractor and their subs to figure it out?

2  · 
curtkram

chad, i think i sat through a meeting where someone said that once.

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mightyaa

I'd started integrating into Revit; So I'd open the model, create a user note, and go to town while they were working on it. I just got sick of getting handed the same copy they were sending out to bid because the PM's never put QAQC time in the internal schedule and wouldn't 'pencil down' until the due date.

1  · 
atelier nobody

The rule of thumb I have always used is either 1 hour per sheet in the set, all disciplines, or 2 hours per Arch sheet, whichever is more. And, before you ask - no, I can never get the PMs to actually budget that much time to start with, but over a number of projects as they start to see their RFIs and Change Orders go down, I've been able to gently nudge them in the right direction.

1  · 
natematt

Everyday Architect - When the drawings are informed by feedback from specialized consultants, contractors, manufactures, and/or those who have extensive experience in the construction and systems, exceeding those of the people reviewing them... then I would disagree with your logic entirely. I have a lot of respect for people with more experience than me, but when anyone comes up against something they are not familiar with in a set of drawings they are reviewing, it may be useful to speak with the design team who may have spent a lot of time addressing the questions already. I am not asking for a whole lot...

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natematt, seems I may be misunderstanding the scope of your typical reviews. I don't usually see, or expect that, reviewers get into the technical aspects of the project unless they are well-versed in those particulars (i.e. someone may comment on a roof flashing detail because they know about roofing and flashing). Their review for the more specialized aspects of the project might be limited to coordination only, not the technical parts of it. 

I agree with you that if they don't have the knowledge or expertise they shouldn't be getting into it, or at least proceeding with some help from the team to understand it. Sometimes as I review something I may not know everything about it, but I know enough that the approach seems strange. It's fairly common for me to highlight it and ask if they coordinated the detail with the manufacturer's rep or something like that. More often than not, they haven't and it was something that somebody just dreamt up and thought it would work. That kind of stuff needs to be questioned or caught in a review.

My earlier comment/question was more about if the reviewer can't find references or connections between different drawings or between something called out and the specification ... we can't really expect the contractors to make those connections either.

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mightyaa

At least for the knowledge part, in most firms, there is 'that person' who has the specialty... like currently at my work, I'm the 'fire rating' guy, so everyone tends to have me review those particular aspects even if I'm not the lead Peer reviewer. When I was doing full peer review, we'd check the 50% DD, 50% CD, and 95% CD sets looking at everything. Even 50% DD sets had outline specifications (basically the index or uniformat which describes the products and materials). My job was to look for holes or misses, as well as mistakes or bad references. I typically asked for a week on a commercial type project. Smaller stuff could be a couple days. Based on my litigation experience, younger firms lack that grey hair expertise and are only as good as the person in charge. So if they suck at specs, the specs suck and no one learns to know the difference. They only learn when called out on it on a job and it becomes an issue. Then newer work I'll see new changes incorporated. Sort of funny... I've had one architect whose been sued a few dozen times over the last couple decades and you can pretty much track their education and expertise as they figured out how to avoid issues. Sort of like the first set was sketches and vague notes, and now they have about 10 boiler plate CYA detail sheets about flashing conditions and supporting spec sections.

1  · 
natematt

Everyday Architect - Entirely agree with you there. Legibility of a set is entirely within the scope of QA and if they don't understand it.... then it's a bad sign for the contractor. I just find a lot more comments coming in these days on weird projects about technical things the reviewers don't really know about, and they get repeated at each phase, wasting everyone's time. I'm not saying its good reviewing...

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joseffischer

This was fun coming back to for a quick read. Glad to see some people actually have some QC. On the spec question, depends on the project, but for my projects, since as I mentioned, our QC actually doesn't properly exist... I QC my own stuff after specs are complete. I don't QC the specs I wrote (about half) but I do QC the ones others wrote as part of the process. Since it's my project and/or I know what the principal wants, Spec vs Drawing coordination usually entails me changing the spec because the author in question was out of the loop.

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brandonjones

Does Revit or AutoCAD have some components that help track page numbers, details, or schedules has the drawings are being made? I imagine if a detail from the manufacture was paced onto a drawing that the rest would be updated as well.


Jul 22, 20 10:30 pm  · 
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