Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 2 - 84
By Ken Slavens
and SUBMITTALS 101
ecause no engineer or architect can
design every detail of a project, the
design of certain elements may be
delegated to you, the contractor,
and those under your contractual umbrella.
This allows those with more knowledge and
greater expertise to design certain components, but it can also make you liable when
things go wrong. That's why submittals, and
the process by which they are reviewed and
approved, are so important.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
family of contracts defines shop drawings
as drawings, diagrams, schedules and other
data specially prepared by a distributor,
supplier, manufacturer, subcontractor or
contractor to show some part of the work.
Submittals, which include shop drawings
and other administrative documents, are
how the contractor communicates what it
intends to construct or what it or its subcontractors have designed. The shop drawing
review and approval process formalizes the
CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM VOLUME 16, ISSUE 2
method for a contractor to demonstrate how it will accomplish these
design obligations. The submittal process also allows the design
professional to review the design and make sure they comply with
the design intent.
But equally important is understanding what shop drawings and
submittals are not. For decades, the items constituting contract documents have remained the same and include drawings, specifications,
the agreement and general conditions. Notably absent from the list
are submittals and shop drawings. The AIA's general conditions state
specifically "submittals are not contract documents."
Contractors who understand the role submittals play in a construction project are better equipped to prevent misunderstandings and
complications that impede projects. Understanding your responsibilities in the submittal process also goes a long way in reducing your
risk of lawsuits.
Know your obligations. Typically the contract documents assign
primary responsibility for shop drawings to the contractor and
secondarily to the design professional. As the contractor, you are
obligated to review any submittal, including those of your subcontractors, for compliance with the contract documents and approve it
before it is submitted to the design professional.