Construction submittals 101: all you need to know

Construction submittals, essential for project success, involve vital documents from blueprints to material samples. This guide demystifies the process, offering insights into creating impeccable submissions and ensuring seamless communication for streamlined project management.

Construction submittals 101: all you need to know

Before construction can begin, construction submittals need to be drafted and sent in for approval. Managing and overseeing project submittals is one of the most important parts of a project manager’s job, as it can determine whether a project succeeds or fails. Ultimately, a submittal determines how accurately the project will be completed and whether the items requested for order align with a given budget.

What are submittals in construction?

Submittals are any written or physical pieces of information that detail specific items planned for use or installation in a project. It’s usually provided by a subcontractor and given to a general contractor, who then shows it to the project’s design team to approve the required materials and equipment.

Construction submittals can be presented as blueprints, shop drawings, product manuals, product samples, or material data. Regardless of its format, it’s a crucial set of documents for architects and engineers since it allows them to verify that the correct quantities of materials will be used for building and ensure that the contract and design documents align with one another.

Project and design teams ensure stakeholders’ wants are reflected in the submittal’s specifications and project drawings.

After a submittal is sent in, it can either be approved, rejected, or accepted with required revisions. The submittal is then returned to the subcontractor once passed through all parties, indicating that the work has been given the green light to begin construction.

Why are construction submittals important?

Submittals account for many aspects of a construction project and describe its minute details, allowing designers to see and approve specific equipment and materials proposed. The more detailed submittals in construction are, the more accurate budgeting and scheduling will be, increasing the likelihood that the project will succeed.

Vague or unclear technicalities can result in errors and cost overruns. Project managers can also be held liable if they don’t show that their construction firm has gone through the process of properly requesting, drafting, sending in, and approving submittals since it demonstrates non-compliance. Incorrect illustrations and specifications can take up additional resources to fix after construction has begun, creating additional expenses.

Approving materials and equipment before they’re delivered is also critical to prevent excess waste. Doing so at the beginning keeps projects running smoothly to mitigate the risk of setbacks in timeline and budgeting.

It’s important to ensure accurate and organized submittals, as they often include thousands of specifications.

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What submittals in construction include

Construction submittals include information on material types, pieces of equipment, and other details (such as paint colors and light fixtures). Especially for larger projects, they often involve dealing with thousands of items. The actual information enclosed can depend on the format.

Shop drawings, for example, are illustrations that focus on the quantities, dimensions, and design characteristics of windows, cabinets, and trusses. They show how building components will look during the process of construction.

Product cut sheets are information sheets that combine a visual model and written words to document materials and equipment, indicating technical elements such as model numbers, manufacturers, sizes, capacities, and more.

Product samples show what materials will look and feel like and can include concrete and bricks. Having examples can help project teams make aesthetic decisions since it allows them to envision how a building’s visual elements will come together.

Material data provides warranty information, quantities, models, and dimensions and are most common when working on government projects since it’s essential to demonstrating compliance.

Other pertinent information for submittals in construction includes finishes, color choices, and design charts.

How to manage construction submittals

Submittals should follow rules to ensure they’re consistent and establish clear expectations for all parties. These rules can include:

  • That all items are accounted for, no matter how seemingly insignificant
  • How to communicate between who’s creating, sending in, and reviewing submittals
  • The method of sending them in (via email, direct message, etc.)
  • The process of how to review submittals
  • Deadlines for submission and review

Here’s some key information to consider and attach when sending in submittals:

  • Title and description – The name of the submittal and a blurb summarizing the request
  • Submittal type – The format and the kind of information included
  • Contractor source – Who will be responsible for providing the information needed?
  • Submittal manager – Who will submit the information?
  • Submittal reviewer – Who will review the submittal and approve it?
  • Deadlines – The exact date on which the submittal is due for approval and return

Since so many items are involved in submittals, keeping a comprehensive log to track every document is essential. It’s also useful to keep as an approval record, checking off when each document has been reviewed and accepted by the design team. With numerous design and architectural aspects to manage, the organization is key to preventing the construction submittals and communication process from becoming disjointed.

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Manage your submittals better with Bridgit

The review process for submittals is often long and difficult since every item must be approved before any work can be done. Time-consuming, disorganized, and inefficient methods like using Excel spreadsheets create room for inaccuracies, which require rework and can result in further delay.

Regarding submittals, construction project management software is the best option to automate the process and increase accuracy.

Modernize your project management process and add to your existing tech stack with Bridgit Bench, an all-in-one workforce management solution that helps optimize resources.

Our platform’s organizational dashboard allows users to track project progress and manage resources like human capital. You get immediate access to a forecasting dashboard that helps you stay ahead of project demand, plus you can view daily resource allocations at any time to make more informed decisions.

Improve your construction firm’s operations and choose Bridgit today!

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Michel Richer

Michel Richer is the Manager of Content and Product Marketing at Bridgit. He started in the construction industry early on with a local restoration company. Michel is driven to propel the construction industry forward by helping to eliminate outdated, ineffective processes.

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