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Contractors/Subcontractors - Ignore a Design Approval Clause at your Peril!

Where design approval is required under a Design and Build Contract, the Contractor will be required to produce designed drawings in respect of the installation prior to proceeding. Usually, a timescale will be included to indicate the time allowed for answering queries with approval or acceptance. If the Employer or Architect, as appropriate, fails to provide the acceptance within the timescale there will be an Extension of Time entitlement. If no timescale is specified a "reasonable" time will be implied into the Contract; the Contractor will be deemed to have allowed in his programme for a reasonable period to obtain approval.

Problems that often arise are where the Contractor fails to obtain approval from the Employer/Architect and commences work without approval. If the design work is subsequently not approved the Contractor will be culpable for the delay in rectifying the work, the delay in submitting a late design that is acceptable and he will have to bear the costs of the aborted works and, as appropriate, claims from Subcontractors.

A further danger of lack of design approval is if the price had been agree d the Contractor takes a risk as design and price have not been fused. It is thus very important that design be produced, identified and approved prior to the Contract starting or at a very early stage in the works. It is important to note that a variation cannot arise until the design is approved. Thus, claims that changes have taken place and extra payment due will be entirely invalid.

So, beware the Clause requiring Design Approval!


Author: Jonathan Nugent

Managing Director - Arbicon ADR Ltd, Chartered Quantity Surveyor, Construction Adjudicator, Arbitrator, Mediator, Expert Witness/Reports/Determination, Lecturer, Delay and Loss Analyst, Leading Authority on Construction Contracts/Law, Commercial Construction Contract Solutions and Dispute Resolution.