Assignment of design to constructors: Documentation and drawings

Contract administration processes

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.
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.

Contract administration requires corresponding review stamps for each action, informational, and sustainable submittal associated with deferred design components. Each discipline involved in review of deferred design components may have different responsibilities when it comes to applying review stamps, meaning action and information stamps are applied by different disciplines.

Assigned design submissions

All assigned design submissions are action submittals within the contract administration document review process.

Sustainable design submissions

All sustainable design submissions are informational submittals within the contract administration document review process.

Delegated design submissions

There are three components to reviewing content associated with delegated design elements, as follows.

  1. Action submittal (indication of commitment)

The constructor submits the supporting registered professional’s indication of commitment to the project, describing the extent of its design responsibilities using recommended best practice from the local engineering association.

  1. Informational submittal (design solution)

The constructor submits signed and sealed design solutions prepared by the supporting registered professional, consisting of shop drawings and supporting information. This could include review of design calculations where the RPR requires additional assurance and only when requested. This submission must be completed before any work associated with the design solution begins and must contain the responsible supporting registered professional’s seals and signatures.

There are exceptions to this process when other RPRs contributing to the original deferred design component are required to review the shop drawings. For example, the structural engineer reviews the design solution for general conformance to the project requirements where architecturally exposed structural steel is required. The architect reviews this same shop drawing as an action submittal. The indications of commitment and conformance do not affect the architect’s review, meaning two review stamps are applied to the project: the informational submittal stamp by the structural engineer and the action submittal stamp by the architect.

  1. Action submittal (indication of conformance)

The constructor submits the supporting registered professional’s statement of compliance upon site review to confirm the design solution is required by the work being undertaken or when site modifications alter the solution using the recommended best practice form from the local engineering association.

This submittal may not be necessary where the supporting registered professional is not required to conduct site reviews as a component of commitment to the project.

Subrogation of design responsibility

There is a tendency for supporting registered professionals to include language in the commitment and conformance documents to limit their responsibility and even make the CPR and RPR responsible for shop drawing content, which is inappropriate since NBC makes it clear the CPR/RPR cannot assign their responsibilities for engineering or code compliance.

This is not to say the supporting registered professionals are not responsible. They will always be responsible for the deferred design solutions assigned to them because of the contribution being prepared by a RPR. This responsibility is limited only to what they provide to complete the design based on the complete engineering requirements provided by the RPR.

This relationship is clearly indicated within NBC and should require no further clarification by any of the contributing supporting registered professionals, provided the roles of the RPR and supporting registered professional are clearly delineated and the deferred design process is applied correctly.

Delayed submittals from supporting registered professionals

Supporting registered professionals sometimes supply ‘preliminary documents’ describing their design solutions as a component of the informational submittal and provide the signed and sealed documents at completion of the work as an indication of compliance. This is inappropriate. Delaying submittal of fully executed design solutions is akin to the RPR submitting building permit documents without a seal and signature, with a promise to the AHJs work will only be certified on completion.

The relationship and requirements for design solutions provided by registered professionals are clearly indicated in NBC. Although submittals from the supporting registered professionals are not submitted to the AHJs, they must be treated the same as the RPR’s commitment for complete documentation. Any submittal received that is incomplete, or that contains limitation clauses or disclaimers, should be returned to the constructor and marked ‘revise and resubmit.’

Keith Robinson, RSW, FCSC, FCSI, has worked as a specifier since 1981 and is currently an associate at Dialog in Edmonton, Alberta, responsible for research and development of technical specification content. His range of experience includes contract administration, building envelope detailing, and writing construction specifications. In addition to working on projects across Canada and in Egypt, Japan, and Costa Rica, Robinson also instructs courses for the University of Alberta, acts as an advisor to several construction associations and building trades committees, sits on several standards review committees for ASTM and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and is the Registrar for CSC’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

Cameron Franchuk, PE, is a structural engineer at Dialog, where he creates impactful spaces that build communities, but in reality he wears many hats: engineer, educator, and mentor. Franchuk has a deep understanding of architectural concepts and building science. Integration of all disciplines is at the forefront of his thinking throughout a project, from conception to completion. His work on low-, medium-, and high-rise buildings, parkades, and pedways throughout Western Canada has helped shape communities. Franchuk can be reached at

Gerald Murnane is an associate, contract administration, with Dialog. He has been in the industry for 44 years in both Ireland and Canada. He joined Dialog in 1988. Murnane has an in-depth background in the design, specification, and management of complex construction projects. He is well respected in the industry for his senior construction administration expertise. Over the years, he has built strong owner/contractor/designer team-based relationships and has a passion for resolving complicated issues as they arise. Murnane can be reached at

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