Which Comes First – Specifications or Drawings?

What to do when the drawings indicate one thing while the specifications require something different?

On a federal construction project, the specifications trump the drawings. (Federal Acquisition Regulations 52.236-21(a)).  But, remember these things too:

  1. Always ask sooner rather than later about obvious differences.
  2. If the difference is patent (i.e., apparent on its face) and you haven’t submitted a bid yet, then pose the question or risk misinterpreting.
  3. If the difference is latent (i.e., not apparent on its face, but only upon learning additional information and capable of more than one reasonable interpretation), then you probably won’t (and hopefully can’t) discover it until after contract award.

In any event, you should promptly notify the Contracting Officer and Designer of Record upon discovery of any discrepancies.


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