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What are Construction Submittals?

by Evan Hill   |   December 2, 2021

Construction submittals are drawings, documents, mock-ups, or samples created by the contractor and presented to the owner or architect. They help demonstrate that proposed plans and materials match the details in the construction contract.

Submittals for construction projects are essential because they clearly define the project and goals for all stakeholders. Well-crafted submittals can help prevent or reduce change orders later in the project—and that’s always a good thing.

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What Information is Included on Submittals?

The required elements in a submittal may vary depending on the project and its parameters, but key elements include:

  • Shop drawings
    Shop drawings are very detailed and include precise project dimensions and details on materials used for a project. Shop drawings are sometimes grouped with blueprints, diagrams, other drawings, and schedules. Once received, architects and engineering stakeholders review shop drawings to ensure they align with the construction contract.
  • Product Specifications & Technical Data
    A detailed list of product and materials specifications is included in the submittals. This outlines the types of products and materials used for the project, including steel and wood beams, masonry, drywall, paint, flooring materials, and more. Specification data should include minute details such as information on product formulation and any warranties that apply.
  • Product Samples & Mock-ups
    These provide examples to help stakeholders visualize the final results and are mainly offered for aesthetic components such as floor tiles, countertops, and fixtures. Having access to product samples enables owners and architects to evaluate their quality and cohesion with the rest of the project. Sometimes a mock-up, or a small portion of the larger project, will be assembled as a visual demonstration to help check for potential issues.

It’s important to point out that on a large project with numerous subcontractors, there may be hundreds or even thousands of individual submittals to task out and track statuses for.

The Construction Submittal Process:
Example Workflow

Ultimately, the project’s general contractor is responsible for the managing submittals. The expected process is generally detailed within the construction contract and agreement forms. Once agreements are settled, stakeholders must decide which aspects of the project will require submittals

Some submittals, such as the project schedule or the waste management plan, will remain with the general contractor; while others are assigned to individual subcontractors from the various trades involved on the project. See an example of a submittal workflow within e-Builder Enterprise.

e-Builder Submittals

Each submittal moves from its point of origin—usually a fabricator or supplier—to the installer, subcontractor, general contractor, and finally to the architect. Every participant must review the documents to verify that they align with the contract. If not, they have the option to add revisions or reject the submittal and send it back to its origin.

How Can You Improve Your Submittal Process?

When construction teams rely on paper trails, email or spreadsheets for the submittal process, it’s easy for documents to get stuck along the way creating project delays. And when projects are delayed, schedules are disrupted and budgets ultimately suffer as deadlines are missed.

However, an advanced digital construction management system such as e-Builder Enterprise can help simplify the submittal process—keeping all communication inside one platform, and making the document’s location visible to everyone so there’s no question about who’s seen it and where it’s currently at in the review process. 

A digital platform can also reduce overhead costs by streamlining what was previously a huge manual effort thereby cutting down the opportunities for human error. A recent example is a rail transit agency that finished up a $1.9 billion section of a new line and at the end of the project, they received two containers filled with paper drawings and documents. The agency then had to employ a group of 20-25 people whose sole job was to take those drawings and digitize them over the next two years. Moral of the story, their contracts did not require design teams to submit digital documents, landing them in paper purgatory.

Modernizing the submittal workflows can also aid in lowering construction project risks that result from missing or inaccurate information. With so many individual contributors and variables, it only takes one document misstep to result in costly errors and project delays.

Ultimately, by embracing digital project management and transitioning your submittals to an automated solution, you can expect a process that’s efficiently routed and delivers enhanced productivity at every opportunity. 

Ready to learn more about how e-Builder helps you with construction project submittals? Click here to schedule a demo today.

Key Topics Covered: Submittals

About the Author

Evan Hill
Product Marketing Manager

Product marketing leader with an intimate history of working in the SaaS space. Passionate about GTM strategy, sales enablement, and content creation. Host of Trimble’s Connecting Construction Podcast.

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