The Ultimate Guide for Construction Submittals

No matter the size of a construction project, it’s essential for construction submittals to be officially submitted by a general contractor to any architects and engineers who are working on the design of the project at hand. A construction submittal can include a wide variety of information that extends to everything from product samples to technical data. Submittals must be made to ensure that the general contractor’s view of the constructed documents or building permit plans is correct.

The engineer and architect play a crucial role in the initiation of a construction project. Upon receiving the necessary submittals, they undertake the responsibility of reviewing and making decisions regarding approval or rejection. This pivotal step in the process requires meticulous attention to detail as it sets the foundation for the subsequent stages of the project.

For a construction project to commence officially, the design team must grant approval to all submitted documents. This collective approval signifies that the proposed equipment and materials meet the specified criteria and can proceed to the fabrication and delivery phases. It acts as a quality control measure, ensuring that the components vital to the project’s success align with the intended design and standards.

Various types of construction submittals are subject to this approval process. These include product cut sheets, which provide detailed specifications of proposed products. Additionally, shop drawings, color charts, material data, and product samples are all integral components of the submission package. Each of these submittal types serves a unique purpose in conveying essential information to the design team, contributing to the comprehensive evaluation and approval process.

Keep in mind that construction submittals are first created by any subcontractors that have been hired for the construction project at hand. Once these submittals have been made, they will be sent to the general contractor for review. If you are about to start a construction project, the creation of construction submittals is essential towards making sure that the project timeline is adhered to.

What is Included in a Construction Submittal and Why?

Before you’re able to begin construction, a large number of construction submittals will need to be sent to the design team for the project. Everything from the types of materials to the colors of paint that are being used in the project must be reviewed by the design team to ensure that everything is in order. The reason that construction submittals are important is because they are able to show every single detail of the project in separate submittals, which allows the design team to look over each project component to determine if changes need to be made.

Construction submittals approval is a crucial prelude to the official delivery of materials and equipment to the construction site. Neglecting this step could lead to budget overruns or project timeline delays, potentially resulting in the use of inappropriate materials such as the wrong paint or roofing type. The review of submittals by the general contractor and design team is a vital measure to ensure the alignment of proposed components with project specifications.

Included within the realm of construction submittals are various items essential for comprehensive evaluation and approval:

Product cut sheets provide detailed information, including model numbers, manufacturer identities, and complete specifications. These sheets serve as a comprehensive reference for the proposed products.

Shop drawings offer visual representations displaying the dimensions of prefabricated products like windows, millwork, trusses, cast concrete, and appliances. These drawings contribute to a clearer understanding of the proposed components.

Samples, showcasing examples of core building components, provide tangible representations of the materials intended for use in the construction project. These samples aid in visualizing and assessing the quality of the proposed materials.

Color and finish selections encompass the final choices for the color and finish of each material used in the construction. This includes paint selections, ensuring that the aesthetic aspects align with the project’s overall design.

Color charts provide quick and easily digestible information about the colors to be used throughout different rooms of the building. These charts aid in visualizing the color palette for the entire project.

Product components refer to smaller elements that constitute the equipment and products necessary for the construction process. A detailed understanding of these components is essential for assessing the overall functionality and quality of the proposed materials.

Material data comprises extensive information about every material slated for use in the construction process, potentially involving hundreds of different materials. This data ensures that each material meets the required standards and specifications for the project.

Construction Submittals Review Process

The review process for construction submittals is typically a lengthy one. Among the most arduous aspects of this process involves the creation of the submittals, which must be done by the subcontractors who have been hired for the project at hand. These submittals will include detailed specifications and data of each component of the project. Up until the past five years or so, these submittal documents were created through manual entries via Excel spreadsheets, which allowed for many costly mistakes and errors to be made. Such manual processes were also very time consuming. Currently, it’s possible to automate this process with project management software, which also reduces the amount of errors that are made when creating the submittal documents.

Once these documents are collected, the general contractor will review them before passing the documents to the design team and architect. The general contractor reviews the submittals for the purpose of ensuring that all of the right specifications and products are listed. On the other hand, the design team and architect review the submittals to make sure that they comply with previously created building plans. The length of time it takes for this process to be completed depends on the size of the project. While some reviews can be completed in as little as two weeks, it’s also possible that the review process won’t be completed for 10-12 weeks if the project is larger in scope.

The submittal workflow can vary depending on the number of individuals who are involved in the process. In most cases, the workflow will involve three separate people. The subcontractor will send the submittals to the general contractor for review, after which these documents will be sent to the architect and design team for final review and verification. If all submittals are approved, they will be sent back to the general contractor for distribution to the subcontractors.

It’s at this time that the subcontractors will be able to finally get to work. In some workflows, it’s possible for an engineer to review the submittals before they are sent to the architect. Construction management could be involved in the review process as well. If you’re able to limit this process to only a few separate individuals, it could be completed sooner than you anticipate.

Likely the most important aspect of the submittal review process is the submittal log that’s created. This log is designed to help project managers and general contractors organize the thousands of separate documents that must be gathered when creating submittals. A submittal log is able to keep track of every document that’s used with the project. Once the architect and design team approve a submittal, this approval can be recorded in the submittal log. Comprehensive submittal logs should include:

  • Specification section name or number: This designates where the overall requirement came from
  • Submittal type: Lists the kind of information that’s being requested, which could include anything from product samples to shop drawings
  • Title or description: The name of the submittal and a brief description of the exact request
  • Priority: Designates the overall priority for approval of each submittal
  • Responsible contractor: This identifies the subcontractor who is responsible for providing the information
  • Submittal manager: The individual who is responsible for sending in the submittal for review
  • Submittal reviewer: The individual who will review and approve the information
  • Required date: When the submittal must be sent in
  • Required approval date: When the submittal should be approved by

How to Manage Your Construction Submittal

Managing the submittal review process effectively can significantly shorten the overall duration, despite its potential for lengthiness. Within this management approach, three key pillars play a crucial role in expediting the approval timeline:

The first pillar involves streamlining administrative work. This entails leveraging automated workflows to reduce manual errors and enhance overall organizational efficiency. By automating routine administrative tasks, the review process becomes more streamlined and less prone to human errors, contributing to a smoother and more efficient workflow.

The second pillar is advanced tracking. Implementing a robust tracking system enables stakeholders to monitor the progress of submittal items in real time. This capability provides transparency throughout the process, allowing any team member to access up-to-date information on the status of submittals at any given moment. Advanced tracking serves as a vital tool for keeping the entire team informed and aware of the ongoing developments.

The third pillar emphasizes providing total visibility. In this context, total visibility means that every member of the team has instant access to relevant information and documents related to the submittals. This open access ensures that all team members are well-informed about the status of submittals, fostering collaboration and coordination. Total visibility contributes to a more cohesive and collaborative work environment, enabling effective communication and decision-making throughout the review process.

Technologies Role During the Review Process

The incorporation of technology plays a pivotal role in expediting the submittal review process, offering solutions to enhance efficiency and reduce the overall time required for completion. Leveraging technology allows for the effective management and streamlining of this process through several key strategies:

Firstly, the use of specialized software enables the automation of submittal log creation. This automation ensures accuracy and timeliness in maintaining comprehensive logs, minimizing manual efforts and potential errors associated with traditional methods.

Another crucial aspect involves securing submittal information using technology. By implementing secure digital platforms, the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive submittal data are preserved, mitigating risks associated with unauthorized access or data breaches.

The application of filters directly to submittals is an additional technological feature that facilitates easier access to specific information. This customization enables users to efficiently navigate through the vast amount of data associated with submittals, enhancing overall accessibility and retrieval of relevant details.

Implementing an advanced tracking system is achievable through technology-enabled email notifications. This feature ensures that stakeholders are promptly informed of any developments in the submittal review process, allowing for real-time tracking and contributing to a more transparent and accountable workflow.

Furthermore, technology enables the concurrent involvement of several reviewers. This collaborative approach, facilitated by digital platforms, enhances the efficiency of the review process by allowing multiple team members to assess submittals simultaneously.

Lastly, clear statuses for each submittal can be established through technology. This feature enables timely updates as submittals are either approved or rejected, providing a dynamic and easily trackable record of the review progress. By incorporating these technological advancements, the submittal review process becomes not only more efficient but also more transparent and adaptable to the evolving needs of the project.

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