Does a Contractor Need to Review its Subcontractor’s Submittals?

By Mike Koger, AIA, Esq., Director and Counsel, AIA Contract Documents

February 28, 2022

If you’re a contractor, you likely know that you are supposed to review submittals before passing them forward to the architect. But what, if anything, does your review signify?  Are you taking any risks by rubber stamping a subcontractor’s submittal and forwarding it along without doing a thorough review? The answers to these questions can be found in Section 3.12.6 of the A201-2017, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction:

§ 3.12.6 By submitting Shop Drawings, Product Data, Samples, and similar submittals, the Contractor represents to the Owner and Architect that the Contractor has (1) reviewed and approved them, (2) determined and verified materials, field measurements and field construction criteria related thereto, or will do so, and (3) checked and coordinated the information contained within such submittals with the requirements of the Work and of the Contract Documents.

Section 3.12.6 makes clear that the contractor’s mere act of submitting shop drawings, product data, samples, or similar submittals is a representation to the owner and architect that, among other listed things, the contractor has reviewed and approved them. The contractor’s “approval” of the submittal requires the contractor’s independent evaluation of the submittal for compliance with the contract requirements. A contractor who merely receives and stamps the submittal without performing this independent evaluation has not complied with its obligations.

If the contractor forwards submittals without performing the obligations in Section 3.12.6, it could be at risk for any errors or complications that could have been discovered had the contractor performed a proper review. Part of the reason for the submittal review process is to allow the architect and owner one last opportunity to decide whether the specified product or system will satisfy the owner’s needs. The contractor’s submittal review, which occurs immediately before the architect’s review, helps to ensure that the architect is looking at a submittal that has already been vetted by the contractor for field measurements and field construction criteria. So yes, contractors should always perform a thorough review of submittals in accordance with Section 3.12.6 before handing them off to the architect. The contractor’s submittal submissions not only come with important representations, but also help identify problems with submittals before they are handed over to the architect.

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.