Submittals are like the starting blocks on a construction project. If you have a solid start the rest of the project will be easier to win. If you have a slow start or stumble on the submittals than you’ll spend the rest of the project catching up.
Managing the submittal process is fairly straight forward but to do so you need an understanding of some basic concepts, work flows and to help you along the way, technology. But what exactly is a submittal on a construction project?
A submittal on a construction project is any document or material submitted to the consultants for review to ensure that it is in conformance with the project plans and specifications.
Construction Submittal Concepts
Cut Sheet – A set of data or information on a product or material that is pre-manufactured. For example you get cut sheets of washroom accessories, light fixtures, caulking and drywall components.
Shop Drawing – something that is custom built or altered to suit site conditions. Shop drawings will include plans, elevations, sections etc of each component to be installed. Shop drawings are typically provided for structural steel, rebar, misc metals, tile layouts etc. The intention of shop drawings is to provide site specific installation instructions.
Samples – samples are basically what they say they are. Samples are small pieces or full size pieces of products which represent the final product to be installed. Some products such as tile may require that a range of samples be submitted. This way you the architect will get a better understanding of the range of acceptable inflection in a product.
Mockups – where multiple materials come together the consultant or owner may request a mockup. Mockups are great way to control quality as a lot of the interfaces can be figured out in advance. Basically a mockup is a large section of a specific material or set of construciton materials installed to look like the final product.
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Construction Submittal Workflow
Your contract type will change what your submittal workflow will look like, however, in general they will always look the same.
Step 1 – Subcontractor Receives Submittal from Supplier or Engineers Submittals Themselves.
Step 2 – Subcontractor Submits Submittal to General Contractor.
Step 3 – General Contractor Reviews Submittal – if it conforms to the specification continue on to step 4 – if not the general contractor marks up the submittal with comments and sends it back to the subcontractor as revise and resubmit.
Step 4 – General Contractor sends Submittal to the Consultants (Prime Consultant if under a typical contract type).
Step 5 – Each of the applicable consultants reviews the submittals and marks it with one of the following status:
- Reviewed – no comments
- Reviewed as Noted – minor comments not requiring a resubmission
- Revise and Resubmit – major comments or revisions, resubmission is required
Step 6 – Consultants return submittal once it’s all been reviewed to the general contractor.
Step 7 – General contractor sends back to the subcontractor.
Step 8 – if the submittal requires resubmission the subcontractor revises and resubmits back to the general contractor (start again at step 3) if not the subcontractor files and orders materials based on the submittal.
As we mentioned at the start of this section the workflow for construction submittals will change based on your contract type. As a recommendation meet with your consultants at the start of the project and establish the routing for each submittal so everyone is on the same page.
We won’t go into great detail over what to look for in your submittal reviews but there is a lot of great information over at this article on what consultants should look for in construction submittal reviews.
Streamlining the Construction Submittal Process With Technology
There are plenty of different online solutions to help you improve the construction submittal process. Rather than write out the pros and cons of each (check out our technology in construction article for more information) we’re going to focus on ways this can help.
Digital Distribution – rather than emailing submittals back and forth to one another and revisions potentially getting lost a central depository can help to keep track of all the files. Some software platforms will even email out notifications and allow you to assign submittals to individuals so they know when they need to review a document.
Tracking – as mentioned above – submittals can get lost. Easily. Using technology helps to avoid that and put ownership on individuals. Online or digital platforms can let you print reports which indicate which are outstanding and at different review stages.
Collaboration – one of the slowest processes for reviewing submittals is the fact that only one party can review at a time. By the time a submittal has made it through all of the various parties it could be one to two weeks later. Some platforms allow each party to review and markup the documents online.
Getting the construction submittal process right on a project can mean the success or failure of a project. Hopefully with some of the above tips and advice you can get it right on your next project.