A.1 General Requirements

Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.
Ronald Reagan Building,
Washington, DC

These design submission requirements have been developed to ensure a rational, well-documented design process and to facilitate reviews by GSA staff and tenant agencies as the design develops. The submission requirements listed here apply to all projects, whether design services are performed by architects and engineers under contract to GSA or by in-house staff.

These requirements are the minimum standards and the specific A/E Scope of Work will take precedence on each project.

All submissions in each phase of work are required to be given to the GSA in drawing or written form and on computer disk as determined by the GSA Project Manager.


Drawing Size. All drawings of a single project must be a uniform standard size, as designated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The following are related sheet sizes:

Related Sheet Sizes

(A) 8.5" x 11" 220 mm x 280 mm
(B) 11" x 17" 280 mm x 430 mm
(C) 17" x 22" 430 mm x 560 mm
(D) 22" x 34" 560 mm x 860 mm
(E) 34" x 44" 860 mm x 1120 mm

Drawing Lettering. Lettering on drawings must be legible when drawings are reduced to half size and when they are microfilmed. This applies to concept and design development drawings as well as construction documents.

Drawing Scale. All drawings will be produced with metric drawing scales which are always expressed in nondimensional ratios. Scales should also be illustrated graphically on the drawings. Scale of drawings should be appropriate for high resolution and legibility to include half-size reduced copies.

There are nine preferred base scales: 1:1 (full size), 1:5, 1:10, 1:20, 1:50, 1:100, 1:200, 1:500, 1:1000. Three others have limited usage: 1:2 (half size), 1:25, 1:250. Floor plans should be drawn at 1:100 (close to 1/8-inch scale).

CAD Standards. The National CAD/CIFM Standards should be obtained via the internet. These guidelines should be followed for all CAD drawing formatting. Regional CAD standards are available through the Regional CAD Coordinator and are considered supplements to the national standards. (Refer to the base scale examples in the previous paragraph.)

Dimensioning. The millimeter is the only unit of measurement to appear on construction documents for building plans and details for all disciplines except civil engineering, which shall be stated in meters. However, building elevation references are stated in meters. Use of millimeters is consistent with how dimensions are specified in major codes, such as BOCA. No dimension requires the “mm” label. On the drawings the unit symbol is eliminated and only an explanatory note such as: “All dimensions are shown in millimeters” or “All dimensions are shown in meters,” is provided.Whole numbers always indicate millimeters; decimal numbers taken to three places always indicate meters. Centimeters will not be used for dimensioning.

If dual dimensioning is utilized on drawings, SI units shall be primary, with English units secondary and in parenthesis.

Seals. Each sheet of the construction documents must bear the seal and signature of the responsible design professional. (Specification and calculations cover page only.)

Cover Sheet. Provide code certification statement for compliance with specified codes and standards by each discipline with the professional seal and signature. The intent is to formally recognize the responsibility for compliance.

Security Requirements. All building plans, drawings and specifications prepared for construction or renovation, either in electronic or paper formats, must have imprinted on each page of the construction drawings or plans and on the label of electronic media, “PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT - FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” in a minimum of 14 point bold type.

The following paragraph will be noted on the cover page of the construction drawings set and on the cove page of the specifications:


The construction drawings, plans, and specifications are to be disseminated only to those requiring the information necessary for design, construction bidding, construction coordination, or other GSA procurement competition processes.

Format. Specifications should be produced according to the CSI division format. Each page should be numbered. Specifications should be bound and include a Table of Contents. The specifications shall include instructions to bidders and Division 1, edited to GSA requirements.

Project Specifications. The General Guide for Editing Specifications published by GSA can be obtained and used as a resource.

Editing of Specifications. It is the designer’s responsibility to edit all specifications to reflect the project design intent, GSA policy requirements and Federal law. Specifications must be carefully coordinated with drawings to ensure that everything shown on the drawings is specified. Specification language that is not applicable to the project shall be deleted.

Dimensioning in Specifications. Domestically produced hard metric products shall be specified when they meet GSA guidelines regarding cost and availability; see Chapter 1, General Requirements, Metric Standards in this document. In the event a product is not available domestically in hard metric sizes, a non-metric sized product may be specified, and its data will be soft converted to a metric equivalent.

Only in special cases can dual dimensions be used on GSA projects, subject to the approval of the GSA Contracting Officer.

Turnover Documents. Documentation on all building systems should be provided for the guidance of the building engineering staff. This should show the actual elements that have been installed, how they performed during testing, and how they operate as a system in the completed facility.

The building staff should be provided with the following:

  • Record of drawings and specifications.
  • Operating manuals with a schematic diagram, sequence of operation and system operating criteria for each system installed.
  • Maintenance manuals with complete information for all major components in the facility.

Design Narratives and Calculations

Format. Typed, bound narratives should be produced for each design discipline.

Content. Narratives serve to explain the design intent and to document decisions made during the design process. Like drawings and specifications, narratives are an important permanent record of the building design. Drawings and specifications are a record of WHAT systems, materials and components the building contains; narratives should record WHY they were chosen. The narrative of each submittal may be based on the previous submittal, but it must be revised and expanded at each stage to reflect the current state of the design.

Calculations. Manual and/or computer based calculations should accompany narratives where required to support technical analysis. Each set of calculations should start with a summary sheet, which shows all assumptions, references applicable codes and standards, and lists the conclusions. Calculations should include engineering sketches as an aid to understanding by reviewers. The calculations for each submittal should be cumulative, so that the final submittal contains all calculations for the project. Calculations submitted at early stages of the project must be revised later to reflect the final design. Calculations must refer to code, paragraph of code used, standards, text books used for specific portion of calculation. Refer to drawing number where the results of the calculations have been used. Example: number and sizes of re-bars used in reinforced concrete members.

Performance Criteria. As part of the development of concepts through construction documents there shall be a check of building performance criteria as noted in A.2.

Cost Estimates

Cost estimates must be provided at various stages of the design process and must comply with the GSA document Project Estimating Requirements.

In addition to the designer’s estimate, GSA will have independent estimates performed at approximately 30, 60, and 90 percent design completion to compare with the A/E estimate.

Last Reviewed: 2019-02-26