By Bruce Jervis
Construction contracts commonly require contractor submittals, which must be approved by the project owner before work can commence. The subjects range from planned schedule to environmental protection, equipment specifications to safety plan, quality control to traffic control. The contract treats owner approval as a precondition to performance. In practice, however, it frequently is not.
A recent federal contract required multiple submittals. The environmental protection plan had to be approved before the contractor could mobilize at the site. The government directed the contractor to mobilize before the plan, or any other submittal, had been approved.
In a subsequent delay dispute, the government invoked the contractor’s lack of approved submittals to argue that the contractor was unable to perform notwithstanding the government’s failure to provide timely site access. This argument was rejected. Having waived the requirement for approval of the environmental plan, the government lost the right to enforce the other approval requirements.
What has been your experience with submittal requirements? Do project owners consistently follow the approval procedure? Or, is approval granted after work has started, granted on a pro forma basis or ignored altogether? Your comments are welcomed.