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Product Submittals - Approval means Installation

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April 28, 2005
Author: Matthew Stevens
Organization: Stevens Construction Institute Inc


A free market society benefits from innovation. Products that perform better or cost less (or both) give projects benefits during construction and many years after. Communicating these types of products is one function of the submital process. There are several other reasons such as dimension coordination and color selection.

Clearly, a majority of building and road projects require product submittals. Making this a quicker process than your competitors leads to a competitive edge. Allowing others to slow it down leads to schedule impacts which cannot be recovered without cost.

Most project management software allows the creation of a submittal log with relative ease. In it, submittals and submittal packages can be added as needed. The project manager must be familiar with the owner's contract as it relates to submittals. They must be reviewed against the plans and specifications and any corrections should be recorded and reported appropriately. A submittal schedule must be submitted to the architect based upon the requirements in the specifications for submittal of shop drawings, product information and samples. The submittal log is set-up during the start-up phase of construction and contains every part of what is to be included in the project.

A log is set up by division including the various pieces of work for which shop drawings, catalog cuts, product data, or physical samples will be submitted. The log will specify the date to be submitted and the requested turnaround time. This will become a historical record of submission, review, approval, and distribution to the subcontractor.

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This is an important function where the project manager can be aggressive in setting up a schedule that pushes for faster submission and approval of shop drawings. The submittal log also acts as a reminder for the project manager to "push" the process along and avoid delays on the project.

Important submittal dates should be included in the project schedule. Report weekly to the designers and client what is pending in their office, what is late, and what they can expect in the coming week.

Submittal Review

The general contractor is generally responsible for making sure the submittal conforms to the contract documents. It is also his responsibility to identify areas where there are deviations from the contract documents and coordinate with any work that is summarily affected by wrong information. Obviously, the designers will be the final approval in the entire process.

If a subcontractor offers an "equal" or "substitution," the project manager must be familiar with the use of these terms and what the owners' contract says in regard to their acceptance. Usually, the word "substitution" is meant to mean a change in the work called for in the specification.

The designers will send back the submittal either "approved" or "approved as noted" or "rejected" or "revise and submit." In either case, this must be logged into your system

Copyright Stevens Construction Institute, Inc. 2005

Matt Stevens is a management consultant who works only with construction contractors. He can be reached at [email protected] His firm, Stevens Construction Institute assists contractors in working smarter, is located at stevensci.com

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