Assignment of design to constructors: Documentation and drawings

Document submittal and shop drawing expectations

To properly complete deferred design, one must have a solid understanding of regulations surrounding shop drawings, specifications, submittals, and other documentation.
To properly complete deferred design, one must have a solid understanding of regulations surrounding shop drawings, specifications, submittals, and other documentation.

Guidance governing best practice expectations for treatment of various types of submittals and shop drawings provided by the constructor during the construction period is similarly fractured between the various engineering and architectural associations across Canada. The following is a compilation from several such associations.

Purpose of submittals

Submittals consist of product data, shop drawings, samples, certifications, design calculations, and other documents requested under terms of the contract.

The intent of submittals is to provide information assisting the design professional in confirming the contractor’s design solutions meet expectations communicated within the construction documents. They also provide suppliers, fabricators, and manufacturers with information allowing them to make the required components of the project.

The RPR must clearly identify required submittals within the construction documents and limit the number of requests to those submittals required to adequately describe the extent of the contractor’s involvement by providing explicit communications associated with design solutions. Most forms of construction contracts allow the RPR to request additional submittals where reasonable interpretation of the contractor’s approach to construction is required.

Design solutions can be deferred to the constructor as a component of the submittal review process, provided there is clear indication of the extent of responsibility associated with providing them. The process of deferring design, whether or not there is contribution by a supporting registered professional, cannot absolve the RPR of overall responsibility for design contained within submittals presented by the constructor during the progress of the work.

Third-party responsibility (delegated design)

Deferred design requiring a design solution that necessitates engineering will need the seal and signature of a professional engineer for submittals associated with the following.

  1. Component design drawings

These include submittals associated with structural elements and individual components, special connections, or equipment designed specifically for a particular application by the professional engineer acting for the fabricator, supplier, or manufacturer. This does not include submittals associated with pre-engineered components (described later in this article for assigned design submittals).

  1. Proprietary items

These include submittals associated with proprietary solutions (such as open-web steel joists and steel decking) confirming the professional engineer takes responsibility for the selection of components forming a part of the engineering solutions for the project.

  1. Erection drawings

Contractors’ solutions not comprising part of the RPR’s engineering responsibilities (such as temporary facilities, cribbing or soldier pile foundation supports, crane foundations, or loading sequencing and concrete forming drawings), where they may have an effect on the engineering required by the registered professional, may require some form of reliance statement in addition to signed and sealed erection drawings.

A similar statement may be required from the constructor to provide design assurance to the RPR the work is being performed by qualified individuals.

Third-party responsibility (assigned design)

This refers to deferred design requiring a design solution that does not involve engineering acumen and resulting seal and signature of a professional engineer for any submittals associated with the following.

  1. General arrangement drawings

These are reproducible copies of drawings and specifications provided by the RPR for the express intent of use by the constructor for annotating general arrangement of construction and products. General arrangement drawings are not design related. Therefore, they do not need to be sealed and signed by the fabricator’s, supplier’s, or manufacturer’s professional engineer.

  1. Fabrication or detail drawings

Fabrication or detail drawings do not require the seal and signature of a supporting registered professional because they normally do not contain design information. However, this is required when they contain design information requiring engineering.

  1. Standard connections, components, or equipment

These components typically do not involve engineering design because they are comprised of elements that are selected from manufacturers’ standard catalogue offerings or industry handbooks. However, standard component and equipment submittals require the seal and signature of a supporting registered professional that is specific to the elements needing engineering input by the RPR (such as connection loads between curtain wall or cladding applied to primary structure of the building or reaction loads applied by elevator installation to structure) or completion of design responsibility by the RPR.

An alternative to waiting for connection and reaction loading during the construction phase is initiating a design-assist arrangement with the affected construction types and equipment to obtain critical information required by the RPR in order to complete the design before issuing documents for bid or tender.

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