What Is a Submittal in Construction?

In the context of the construction industry, submittals are crucial documents that encompass a diverse range of information and materials. These documents are the bridge that connects the meticulous plans drafted by architects and engineers to the actual on-site construction activities.

Submittals go beyond mere paperwork; they encapsulate the essence of a project, ensuring that every material, component, and detail aligns with the specified design, quality standards, and safety regulations. They can include a variety of elements, including shop drawings, material data, and samples. Each of these submittals is a critical piece of the construction puzzle.

Types of Submittals

There are a few different types of submittals in construction, including product data, shop drawings, and product samples and mockups. Below are the details of each type of construction submittal and how architects and engineers utilize them.

Product Data Submittals

Product data submittals provide detailed information about the materials or equipment that will be used in a construction project. This includes specifications, technical data, performance characteristics, installation instructions, and compliance with relevant standards. Architects and engineers review product data to ensure that the chosen materials and products meet the requirements for the project and quality standards.

Shop Drawings

Shop drawings are detailed and often customized drawings or diagrams created by contractors, manufacturers, or suppliers. These drawings illustrate how specific components or systems will be fabricated and installed. Architects and engineers review shop drawings to ensure that they align with the design plans and specifications, verifying that construction details are accurate and compliant with the project requirements.

Product Samples and Mockups

These provide tangible examples of materials or products that will be used in the construction project. Samples allow architects and engineers to evaluate the appearance, quality, and performance of these elements before they are incorporated into the actual construction. Mockups are often larger-scale replicas of a portion of the project, and they can be used to assess how the materials and systems will function in practice. They can also be especially valuable for complex or critical elements of the project.

These different types of submittals are essential for ensuring that the construction process aligns with the project’s design intent and safety requirements, while also allowing for adjustments or corrections when necessary.

Construction Submittal Process

The submittal process in construction can be summarized in the following step-by-step manner:

  1. Initiation. Submittals are typically initiated by a project manager or contractor, often to request information from subcontractors regarding specific items planned for fabrication or installation on the project.
  2. Requested Information. The project manager or contractor specifies the required information, which can include materials data, product data, product samples, shop drawings, and more.
  3. Submission. The responsible subcontractor submits the requested information, ensuring it aligns with project drawings and specifications.
  4. Review. The project and design teams carefully review the submitted documents to verify compliance with the project’s design intent and quality standards.
  5. Approval or Revision. If the submittal meets all requirements, it is approved, indicating that the work or fabrication can proceed. In cases where revisions are necessary, stakeholders may request changes.
  6. Distribution. Approved submittals are returned to the subcontractor, signaling approval for construction. Some submittals, like project schedules or waste management plans, may remain with the general contractor, while others are assigned to specific subcontractors.
  7. Document Flow. Submittals move among stakeholders, including fabricators, suppliers, installers, subcontractors, general contractors, and architects. Each participant reviews the documents for alignment with the contract, with the option to add revisions or reject and send submittals back to their origin.

This process ensures that the construction project follows design specifications and meets all standards for safety and quality. It also ensures that necessary adjustments can be made during various stages of the project.

Improving Submittals

To enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of submittal processes in construction, it’s important to embrace digital workflows. For example, transitioning from traditional, paper-based methods to specialized construction management software streamlines communication and document management. This digital shift ensures that all stakeholders can easily access and track the status of submittals, reducing the risk of documents getting lost or delayed.

Visibility is another key consideration. Opt for a platform that offers transparency by clearly indicating who has viewed a document and its current status in the review process. This transparency enhances accountability and accelerates decision-making.

Standardizing submittal formats and templates, coupled with automation features for reviews and approvals, further simplifies the process. By mandating digital submittals in contracts, you can eliminate the need for time-consuming paper conversions, ensuring that the submittal process is error-free and conducive to on-time project completion. These steps collectively contribute to improved project management, reduced risks, and enhanced productivity in construction projects.

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