What is a Submittal in Construction?

March 19, 2024

The submittal process is a cornerstone of construction project management. It ensures that contractors receive the right materials, products, tools, processes, and prefabricated parts to build a building that matches up with the design intent of the architect. It also prevents time delays caused by rework or incorrectly implemented work due to a lack of proper reviews and approvals.

Submittals are documents or physical product samples provided by a contractor to a project architect, engineer, or owner for review. They typically include product specifications, diagrams, and precise measurements that paint an accurate picture of the end result of a specific part of a building. They can also include mock-ups or product samples to help the parties involved in the review understand if a proposed method or material will meet both functional requirements and aesthetic preferences.

In some cases, contractors will provide actual product samples to help a project owner or architect visualize the end results of a specific part of a building. These are usually offered for aesthetic components like floor tiles or countertops to help the stakeholders make an informed decision about what is best for their project. In other cases, contractors may use shop drawings to illustrate the various aspects of a project and provide the necessary details for the engineers and architects to review.

For projects involving structural components, the review and approvals of alternate designs through submittals are critical to ensuring both the safety of workers and future building occupants. The tragic example of the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse that killed 114 people is just one of many avoidable tragedies caused by miscommunication and an insufficient review and approvals process for structural components.

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