Glossary of Terms for the DSA Project Review Process

The following terms are used by DSA in their daily operations. Terms are arranged in the order that they might be used on a building project.

See the DSA Publications or Forms pages for cited documents.

Glossary of Terms Used in Plan Review

Application Form:

Form DSA 1: Application for Approval of Plans and Specifications (PDF- 646 KB). This form is required to start the plan review process. Please see the Introduction to DSA Project Submittal and Review section of the DSA website for descriptions of how to submit an application form, what to expect during the plan review process, checklists for a complete submittal, etc.

Approval Letter:

Letter that DSA issues upon completion of the plan review process to inform the school district that code requirements pertaining to the design and review of documents have been completed. The Education Code requires that this letter be issued prior to entering into any construction contract and/or prior to the start of any construction.

Approved Drawings and Specifications:

Drawings and specifications bearing a DSA identification stamp with initials and date filled-in by the DSA plan reviewer. Note that only the signature page of the specification manual is stamped, initialed, and dated. Pages may only be added, deleted, or modified by DSA approved addenda or change order.

Back Check:

Face-to-face meeting held, at DSA Regional Office, after all corrections have been made to drawings and specifications. This meeting is scheduled between the DSA plan reviewer and the project architect. The DSA plan reviewers verify that all corrections have been made (minor changes are often required and may be made to the drawings during the back check meeting). The DSA plan reviewers add their initials to the identification stamp on each drawing and the signature page of the specification manual(s).

Check Set:

A set of drawings and specifications that have been reviewed by DSA and marked-up to indicate where corrections or clarifications are required. Upon completion of plan review, three marked up "Check Sets" are returned to the architect for correction: one for structural, one for accessibility, and one for fire/life safety. After all corrections are made, the architect brings corrected drawings and all three check sets in to the DSA regional office for "back check."

Delegation of Responsibility:

The individual in general responsible charge of a project may delegate responsibility for a portion of the project to another architect or engineer. The most common portions of a project delegated to consultants are structural, mechanical, and electrical work. Other portions of a project may be delegated; however, the scope of each portion would have to be carefully defined.

Note that the individual in general responsible charge of the project retains responsibility for the entire project. The responsibilities of the individual in general responsible charge, and of the individuals to whom responsibility has been delegated, are defined in Section 4-316 and 4-341 of Title 24, Part 1.

Note that when design responsibility for a portion of the work has been delegated, the construction observation responsibility for that portion of work must also be delegated to the same individual.

Common delegations shall be shown on form DSA 1. Other delegations, not listed on the DSA-1, shall be reported on the form DSA 1-DEL (PDF- 95 KB)  and submitted with the Application form. A separate form must be completed for each individual to whom a portion of the work is to be delegated.

Documents Required List:

A list of all documents required to be submitted to DSA for a project. The list is created during plan review and updated during construction. Upon completion of the project, the Documents Required List includes all documents necessary for DSA to certify the construction. See Form DSA 3.


A clearly defined building or similar distinct unit (examples: sitework, relocatable buildings, grandstands). Increments must be defined so that the scope of work included in the increment will be complete and code compliant even if other increments are not constructed. In general, portions of buildings such as "foundations" or "walls" may not be defined as separate increments.

Incremental Submittal Process:

Many projects are completely designed and drafted prior to submission to DSA for plan review. DSA may accept a package of plans and specifications for a portion (or "increment") of the entire scope of the project so that plan review can start on that increment. This process is referred to as the "Incremental Submittal Process" and is acceptable as described in DSA IR A-11.

Record Set:

A complete set of approved drawings and specifications retained by DSA in an electronic format. See DSA Policy 06-01.

Separate Assignment of "General Responsible Charge" for Parts of a Project:

Most projects are designed and constructed under the "general responsible charge" of one person. When projects include structures that are designed and coordinated by a different individual, Title 24, Part 1, Section 4-316(a) allows for the assignment of general responsible charge to another individual. For example, an architect may design one building for a school while a separate architect designs another building. As long as it is clearly defined which architect is responsible for which aspects of the project (including sitework), the code allows both buildings to be submitted as part of the same project.

Stamped Out:

Historically, an "identification stamp" was placed on each drawing, and the signature sheet of the specification manual, by DSA to indicate that drawings and specifications had been reviewed and found to comply with the Building Code. Today, an image of the DSA identification stamp is generally included on the drawings by the designer prior to submission to DSA. After DSA checks the drawings and specifications, the plan reviewer adds his or her initials and date to the identification stamp. Documents that have been initialed and dated by the DSA plan reviewer are referred to as "Stamped Out." Note that a construction contract cannot be let until an "Approval Letter" is obtained from DSA (see below).

T & I List:

A list of the structural materials tests and special inspections required for a project. Note that this list is a brief summary; the precise definition of the specific requirements must be included in the specifications or on the drawings. See form DSA 103.

Glossary of Terms Used During Construction

See the DSA Publications or Forms pages for cited documents.

Changes in Delegation of Responsibility:

When persons delegated responsibility for construction observation must be replaced after the plans and specifications have been approved by DSA, another appropriately licensed individual may assume the responsibility in accordance with Title 24, Part 1, Section 4-316(c)2 and 4-316(d).

Form DSA-108 Change in Delegation of Responsibility should be used to notify DSA of a change to the architect or engineer delegated responsibility for a portion of the project.

Multiple-Prime Projects:

When more than one construction contract is let by the school district for the same project, the project is called a "multi-prime project." Multi-prime projects present additional challenges for many of the project stakeholders because the activities of separate contractors must be carefully coordinated. It is important that the architect or engineer in general responsible charge carefully define the scope of the project to be included in each construction contract.

Phased Construction:

In accordance with Title 24, Part 1, Section 4-330, construction of a project may proceed in "phases." However, once construction work starts on a project the approval of DSA will become void if the construction stops for more than one year. DSA may reinstate the approval on the request of the school board per Section 4-332(b).

Glossary of Terms Used During Project Closeout

See the DSA Publications or Forms pages for cited documents.

90-Day Letter:

The letter that DSA sends out to the project architect or engineer to request any missing documents. After construction is complete, DSA reviews its files to determine whether all documents have been received. If any documents are missing, the project architect has 90 days to track down the documents and submit them. If documents are not received within 90 days the project will be closed without DSA certification.

Closed Without Certification:

When DSA cannot verify that construction has been completed in accordance with code requirements, the project will be closed without certification. This may happen because of reported deviations in the construction, or because documentation required to verify that construction was properly completed was not received by DSA.

Final Verified Report:

A report certifying under penalty of perjury that all construction was completed in accordance with DSA approved documents. Final verified reports are required from all architects, engineers, contractors, testing laboratories, and inspectors on the project.

Letter of Certification:

Letter that DSA issues to the school district upon satisfactory completion of construction and receipt of all required documents. This letter is evidence that construction conforms to applicable requirements of the California Building Code.

Portion Scope Construction Certification:

DSA may certify portions of the scope of a project that are completed if those portions include all aspects of construction necessary to make the affected structures code compliant (including accessibility and fire safety code requirements).

Project Closeout:

The process, upon completion of construction, of reviewing documentation submitted to DSA to verify that all work was performed and inspected in accordance with Code requirements. If documentation indicates that the construction met the requirements, then DSA issues a letter of certification of construction to the school district.