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What is a Construction Submittal? Submittals for Dummies - How do Submittals work in Construction?

Updated: Sep 11, 2021

submittals for dummies

Construction submittals are documents submitted by the contractor to the owner’s side for his approval for use in a project.

Lexology explains that “Submittals consist of information provided by the contractor to the design professional for approval of equipment, materials, etc. before they are fabricated and delivered to the project.”

NOTE: What are commonly referred to as "Construction Submittals" are different from Construction Schedule Submittals or "Schedule Submittals".

These are something different and are when the contractor/subcontractor submits their schedule for review specifically.

There are whole different practices and guidelines for these, to learn more about these then click here!

Unlike as-built drawings, which are meant to be submitted after construction is complete to show the final form of the project (and are also very important), submittals are furnished beforehand to guide how the project is planned to be carried out.

If you want to achieve your goals in (or through) construction, it’s very important to have a good understanding of submittal and why they are so important to the running of your projects:

A Brief History of Submittals

Though construction submittals is a relatively new term, coined in the last century, the basic idea behind them is nothing new.

Any large construction project requires pre-construction planning, as well as checking and compiling project specifications with the main stakeholders beforehand.

Today, project submittals include much more detailed elements completed in design programs, so this adds an additional layer of complexity in having to understand these software and draw out any embedded issues that might affect the project - and any area for increasing efficiency and coming in under time and budget.

What Documents Are Included in Construction Submittals and Why Do They Matter?

Before construction begins, every piece of equipment, material types, and even details such as the exact color of paint need to be reviewed and approved via submittals.

Depending on the individual project, construction submittals can involve thousands of different items.

These might include:

Product cut sheets that identify the manufacturer, specifications and model number

Shop drawings that layout the dimensions of prefabricated products such as trusses, cast concrete, windows, appliances, millwork and more

Color and finish selections

Color charts

Finished product components

Material data


… and more

These documents are essential to successful construction, because they show the project at a very granular level, helping design professionals to approve the equipment, material, and more.

Approval needs to happen before items are fabricated and delivered because afterward, it will be too late to prevent unnecessary setbacks in timeline and budget.

The quality of the submittals also matters. The more detailed construction submittals provide the better for avoiding inaccurate budgeting and schedules.

But as construction submittals often involve thousands of different materials relating to each project spec, an accurate and organized input is critical. If a high level of detail is not included, or errors are made when creating the submittals log, the whole project may be compromised.

The Schedule Submittal Review Process

Construction professionals agree that the submittals review process has traditionally been long and arduous.

First, all submittal items must be aggregated from subcontractors, ensuring you have detailed data and specifications for each facet of the project. In the past, this meant a time-intensive manual entry process, ripe for inaccuracies and mistakes. However, new technology solutions on the market can help automate this process. After submittal items are collected, the architect and design team must review everything for compliance, while the general contractor reviews them all to ensure they have the right products and specifications.

A typical submittal workflow looks like this:

Obviously, the organization is key to running this process smoothly. Without it, the thousands of documents involved and the many layers that comprise a construction project can quickly become overwhelming. To be sure you’ve completely covered your bases when sending off construction submittals, you should follow a routine, replicable number of steps so that you do the same thing every time. Lorman offers a comprehensive look at the tasks required before submitting shop drawings and samples.

Because submittals can consist of so many different and types of documents, it’s critical you have a system for keeping them all in one place. If you’re wondering about a system that’s robust enough to track so many different pieces of collateral all in one place, it may just be time to integrate the right software into the process to help.

How to Improve Construction Submittals

Now that you understand what is a construction submittal and the process, how exactly do you improve the essential, yet at times frustrating construction workflow? It starts by improving three key pillars:

Streamline Administrative Work: Reduces manual errors and delays and improve organization with automated workflows

Provide Complete Visibility: The entire team has access to the needed documents and information right at their fingertips

Advanced Tracking: Anyone can see where submittal items are in the process, at any time, and know where they need to take action next.

Organize and Streamline Your Submittals Process with Software

Previously, the manual and fragmented system to create, track, and approve submittals have been inefficient and a manual process.

Now, with the introduction of many technologies to help in this process, you may save days of manual “intelligence” labor and administration to get these done.

And now the submittal is done and the project approved, it’s time for schedule submittals - a whole new review process!

To learn how to do that in just a few clicks with AI Software, Click Here!

Thanks a lot for reading and take care


The Project Cracker Team



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