Construction submittals are samples of designs, drawings, diagrams, schedules, and data that can be used to track progress and materials being used for a project. Many people seem to think that construction submittals are only used during the pre-construction phase, but honestly, they are necessary from then all the way through to the end of the project.
There is no set schedule of when construction submittals need to be, well, submitted, but they are normally done either weekly, monthly, or when new documents are needed. Documents should always be sent with the construction submittals, because it makes it easier for the person reviewing them to know what is going on. Of course, people can also attach soil samples, warranty samples, product data, manufacturer brochures, and other technical data to these submittals.
During the pre-construction phase, most of the construction submittals will include the following:
- Preliminary cost-loaded schedule
- Quality control assessment plan
- Environmental protection plan
- Accident prevention plan
Of course, as mentioned above, there could be numerous other types of information sent in with the construction submittals, depending on the type of the project and what is stated within the contract.
All this documentation is designed to ensure that there are no installation, scheduling, safety, and material issues. The construction submittals also provide intricate details that are often left out in the original documentation.
Each construction submittal review allows workers to review and consider whether the information being provided checks and balances what needs to be done. This is important because it ensures that the result is going to achieve the goals of what was needed by the owner.
There is no set rule as to what needs a submittal form review for each construction specialty, and since every project is different, architects and engineers normally define what they want and need for each one. Most of the time, the construction submittals will include the information listed above, but it is not uncommon for the architects and engineers to expect more submittals for certain projects.
There are a few things that will not require construction submittal review and those include certificates, design data, inspection reports, test reports, and manufacturer instructions. This is good news for those who normally find themselves buried under stacks of submittal reviews when they arrive at work each day.
Construction submittals need to be reviewed and accepted by clients, and every contractor hopes that their clients do that quickly so that the work does not need to stop unnecessarily. In fact, this should be mentioned during contract negotiations, so that everyone knows the importance of these forms and what could happen if they are not responded to in a timely manner.
The basic way to keep track of the numerous construction submittals that are required for each construction project is to use a submittal register. Most people use Excel spreadsheets for this, but due to the advancements in technology, it is not uncommon for some people to utilize software systems instead.
Construction submittals should always be placed on the project schedule, as they show what work is pending and whether the submittal has been approved or not.
There are always going to be problems on construction job sites and that even includes issues with construction submittals. These issues will challenge the team of workers and necessary actions will need to be taken to keep everything on track and on schedule. The worst issues that can cause future litigation include:
- Incomplete or no formal submittal schedule from the contractors
- Contractors are distributing construction submittals that have not been reviewed
- Submittals that are being sent with product substitutions
- Work has been completed before the construction submittal was reviewed
- There is a shortened review time of the submittals by the architect
- Teams are receiving the submittals later than they should
Many of these issues can be avoided by properly preparing the contracts with specific construction submittal requirements, as mentioned above. Once everything is in writing, the review of the drawings and the construction submittals should be completed like it is stated within the contract. There should also never be a review of a submittal that is not within the contract, as it could be a potential liability in the future.
Construction submittals can be brutal, but if they are done properly and only when necessary, they can be quite helpful in the success of the project that is being completed. Of course, since construction is never that simple, every construction worker knows that there will be a hitch in the plans somewhere. However, hopefully, the construction submittals will solve the issue before it gets too out of control and stops the work completely until the issue can be resolved.