NIH Grants Policy Statement
Revised October 2017. This document applies to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements for budget periods beginning on or after October 1, 2017.

10.4 Design Documentation Requirements

Unless otherwise specified in the NoA, following award acceptance for construction or modernization grants or award of funds for a major A&R project, the recipient may begin the design phase of the award, which includes the review, and approval of the design documents with the IC program or other designated NIH staff. Funds for construction, modernization, or major A&R will not be released until the final architectural drawings, specifications, construction schedule, and updated cost estimates are reviewed and approved by the NIH IC unless otherwise indicated in the NoA. The release of funds is accomplished by a revised NoA. The purpose of the NIH design review is to ensure that applicable design standards, including, as applicable, the minimum requirements contained in 42 CFR 52b.12 (see Minimum Requirements for Construction, Modernization, and Major A&R below), have been incorporated into the working drawings and specifications to ensure that program requirements are met, and that the facility will suitably accommodate the activities for which it is planned to be used.

Advertisement for bids may be initiated only after approval of the final construction documents by the NIH awarding IC. The procurement methods to be employed, including any plans that involve a construction management contract with a GMP clause, must be reviewed and approved by the NIH awarding IC.

10.4.1 Minimum Design Requirements for Construction, Modernization and Major A&R

The minimum design requirements for NIH grant-supported construction or modernization are set forth in 42 CFR 52b.12. The NIH Design Requirements Manual incorporates the regulatory standards for construction or modernization grants and those for major A&R projects. The NIH Design Requirements Manual is available at

Specific requirements for construction grants are contained in Appendix A, "References, Design and Safety Guidelines, Health and Safety Regulations, Codes and Standards," of the NIH Design Requirements Manual. The recipient will be subject to the standards in effect at the time of design or construction (modernization or A&R), as appropriate. Working drawings and specifications submitted for NIH approval (see Design Documentation Requirements above) must conform to the minimum standards in the NIH Design Requirements Manual. The NIH Design Requirements Manual also include policies, design standards, and technical criteria for use in planning, designing, and constructing or altering/renovating buildings owned or leased for use by NIH. Recipients are not subject to the NIH site specific requirements contained in the NIH Design Requirements Manual but should meet the intended design objectives in such cases.

Recipients also must ensure that each project meets the requirements of the applicable State and local codes and ordinances. Where State or local codes are proposed as a basis for facility design in lieu of the NIH design requirements, a prior determination must be made by the NIH awarding IC that the specific State or local code is equivalent to, or exceeds, NIH requirements. If State and local codes or requirements exceed the design requirements set forth in NIH regulations, the NIH Design Requirements Manual or program guidelines, the more stringent requirements will apply.

In planning and designing construction or modernization projects, recipients must consider that the facility is generally subject to an extended usage requirement, e.g., 10 or 20 years, after the date of occupancy and it should be constructed accordingly.

NIH will monitor compliance with design requirements during the project's design and construction phase. Recipients (or applicants) with questions concerning the applicability of requirements contained in the NIH Design Requirements Manual should consult with the NIH PO.