ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 118 - 07/28/2011

Should Contractors Advocate for Approval of Subcontractor Submittals?

The shop drawing submittal process raises some interesting issues regarding subcontractor relations. Submittals must be approved by the project owner’s representative. Most submittals are generated by trade contractors -- subcontractors to the prime contractor. The subs have no contractual relationship with the owner. Only the prime is supposed to deal with the owner.


The prime contractor is essentially a conduit in the submittal process. The contractor passes the trade subs’ drawings, samples and literature through to the owner’s representative. The subcontractors’ ability to perform and perform on schedule is frequently dependent on the timely approval of submittals. What is the prime contractor’s obligation to its subcontractor during this submittal process?


In a recent federal appellate case, a subcontractor sued a prime contractor for breach of contract -- breach of the implied covenant of good faith -- because the prime was not sufficiently helpful in obtaining owner approval of the sub’s shop drawing submittal. The subcontractor contended the prime contractor should have arranged a face-to-face meeting with owner decision makers and should have advocated on the sub’s behalf.


What is your opinion? How involved should prime contractors become in obtaining owner approval of subcontractor shop drawings? It is usually in the contractor’s best interest to obtain approval of submittals. But should this rise to the level of an obligation to the subcontractor? I welcome your comments.


Featured in Next Week's Construction Claims Advisor:

  • Directive Was Change but Contractor Failed to Give Notice
  • Subcontractor Liable to Prime for Reneging on Pre-Bid Quotation
  • Government Did Not Misrepresent Construction Season or Subcontracting Climate


Bruce Jervis, Editor
Construction Claims Advisor




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