Drafting Service Files: Shop Drawings aren’t Cheap. What goes into pricing shop drawings.

What goes into pricing shop drawings?

Here at MP Drafting, we frequently receive phone calls from construction companies asking for our price per page. Unfortunately, our answer is never satisfying.

Frankly, it’s a bit of an awkward question and it’s one we try to avoid answering over the phone. It’s not because we have something to hide. It’s not because we’re rude people. It’s because we actually don’t know our price per page.

The reason is this: glass and glazing shop drawings can differ so drastically depending on a number of factors, like the complexity of the project, the type and number of connections, materials used, and the overall vision/ambition of the architect. As a result, we can only estimate a wide range of $50 to $150 per page (or sometimes even more) before digging in to learn more about the project requirements. To give you an accurate quote, we need to review project documents and discuss the project.

Because glass and glazing projects can be so complex — often featuring cutting-edge architectural features — there are dozens, maybe hundreds of factors that could affect pricing. But, after doing some brainstorming at the MP Drafting office, we managed to pick out eight key factors that impact how we determine pricing for glass/glazing shop drawings.

8 factors that influence glass and glazing shop drawing pricing

#1: Lead times

Clearly, how fast you need your drawings ready will have an impact on pricing. Typically, we add new projects into our workflow and aim to complete draft drawings quickly enough to give you lots of time to review them. Lead times don’t have an impact on pricing for most projects.

But if you need your drawings done FAST, we’ll have to adjust our project schedule and will likely have to divert resources from other projects to get your project done on time. This could put additional stress on our office if we have to ask people to work overtime or pull in drafters from other projects. As a result, if you require a short turnaround time, this will be reflected in the price.

#2: Number of systems

It’s not always the case that large systems cost more to design. In fact, a large job consisting of a single system may be less expensive to design than a small or medium-sized job with multiple different systems. Every system requires its own set of details, which leads to more sheets in the overall drafting package.

The more systems you have in your designs, the more the shop drawings are going to cost to produce.

#3: Number of system depths

There are exceptions to the case outlined in factor #2 above: Sometimes shop drawings for a single system can cost more than shop drawings for multiple systems. This happens when the system has multiple depths.

Multiple depths require more details. For example, a job that consists of only Tubelite 400T Curtainwall might seem like a simple project to draw since it only has one system. But if the system has multiple frame heights, the drawings become much more complex. For example, if the system has some frames at 6” overall, some at 7.5” overall, and others at 9” overall, each frame will require separate details.

#4: Complexity of building conditions

This is an extremely important factor — and one that’s sometimes overlooked, leading to unexpected project delays.

Some buildings (precast for example) have very simple-to-draw surrounding conditions: the head, jamb, and sill details are almost identical. But many buildings require multiple head, jamb, and sill details. And, even worse, some buildings not only require multiple details, but have a variety of highly complex details that need to be shown in the shop drawings. These projects take a lot more time to draw. And, if you try to rush them, you can easily make a mistake that leads to headaches during fabrication or construction. Not a good situation to be in.

To avoid this situation, we put in enough time upfront to get the most complex drawings right the first time. That means our drafters could spend up to 2 hours or more on a single detail (while simple details might take about 15 minutes). It might seem like a lot of time to spend on a single drawing, but it can easily avoid days of costly delays if incorrect shop drawings make it to the fabrication or, even worse, construction stage.

#5: Number and complexity of floors

Obviously, the more floors a building has, the more sheets are required. But, again, the complexity of the floor plans plays an important role in pricing. Simply put, complex floor plans are more time consuming to trace/draw or insert into shop drawings, and are therefore more expensive.

#6: Complexity of frames

The shape of glazing frames ranges in complexity from simple rectangles to large sloping, segmented assemblies. These complexities make drawing details harder and more time consuming.

Segmented frames are particularly time-consuming for drafters. And non-typical day lite openings also pose a challenging.

#7: Size of pages

Shop drawing size of course plays a role in pricing. For example, 11×17 drawings can’t include as much information as a 24×36 set, and will therefore require more sheets. This means that, in general, producing shop drawings on larger pages is more cost effective.

#8: Quality of architectural drawings

Architectural drawings that include a lot of details make our lives easier. On the other hand, drawings that don’t provide enough information, leave out important items, and don’t have clearly marked references for glazing frames make our jobs a lot harder.

Incomplete architectural drawings will force us to do a lot of detective work to find the information we need to complete accurate shop drawings, adding to the overall cost of the project. One problem we face quite often is clients failing to provide us with a glazing frames elevation sheet. It doesn’t mean we can’t do the drawings, but it does mean the drawings will take longer.

Need help with shop drawings? Give us a call!

As you now know, glass and glazing shop drawings vary so widely in complexity that it’s impossible for us to give you an accurate quote upfront. But give us a call anyway so we can discuss your project. We’ll ask you the questions we need to answer before providing a quote.

In a rush? No problem. Our workflow allows us to quickly adjust by shifting resources as needed. Just keep in mind that rush jobs will typically cost more than standard jobs.

Call, email, or drop in to our office today to discuss your next project.