By Alexander Barthet

The devil is in the details. This is particularly true in construction. While the plans and specifications present a good deal of information about the project as a whole, submittals and shop drawings provide tradesmen the necessary details on how specific component parts fit together while also illustrating the intent of the design professional. There are at least three factors that one must keep in mind when dealing with how the shop drawing submittal process is addressed within a subcontract.

First, submittals must be prepared and transmitted timely so as not to delay the progress of other trades or impede the progress of the work.

Second, it is prudent to review all submittals so that incomplete or erroneous ones are not passed along to the design professional only to be rejected. One reason this review is particularly important is that during a dispute, one metric used by construction experts to measure the performance of a contractor is the number of rejected submittals.

Finally, the subcontractor must understand that the approval of any submittal does not constitute a “double check” of its work by the design professional. Said another way, if the subcontractor makes an error, the fact that the error conforms with the submittal (versus the plans) does not necessarily relieve the subcontractor of liability.

Contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals, all will have a different agenda in dealing with shop drawings, but much will depend on the final language incorporated into the contract between the parties in determining which interpretation will prevail.

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