Brian, this is a classic case of field hand waving by the contractor, pitting
the owner against the engineer.
I believe the UBC calls for special inspection for structural steel. Without
approved shop drawings how complete of
an inspection can anyone perform?
I commend you for sticking to your guns on this issue. Shop drawings are an
essential part of the design/construction process.
Without proper shop drawings, the quality of fabrication and connection
detailing is a luck of the draw.