Shop Drawings & Submittals 101

Construction Shop Drawing Review Process

Management of construction submittals is the primary job of any contractor before any project begins. This management helps determine the accuracy of the project’s completion, the line actualization of the proposed timeline, and the budget’s line items.

Understanding this term is crucial not only to save your neck in legal issues but also for your construction company’s rapid growth. This day is met with lots of competition; you make a single mistake, and you can end up struggling to get back up.

What Is Construction Submittal?

Understanding the terminology is equally as important as comprehending the technical and analytical aspects of the job.

A submittal is a document that the contractor submits to the architect to gain approval to implement in a project (according to bizfluent). Submittals are also defined as documents that consist of information, tendered to the contractor’s design professional for equipment approval. The project cannot go further without the approval of the submittal. 

The submittal process begins at the initial phase of the project to direct how the project turns out. This is quite different from other processes, such as as-builts and closeout. 

Components Included in A Submittal

The submittals are the avenue through which details such as material types and equipment, including paint color, are reviewed before construction. The construction submittals can be littered with lots of items depending on the project type. Some of the items include: 

  • Color charts
  • Material data
  • Product cut sheets that serve to identify manufacturer, model number and specs
  • Samples
  • Color and finish selections
  • Shop drawings, etc.

The submittals are vital because they give the project a simplified view where necessary adjustments can be made at a basic level. There first need to be approval before the items are made and supplied because after then, excesses cannot be curtailed. 

There is also a strong need for quality submittals. A successful project is determined by how accurate the submittal is. A very detailed one gives clarity to budget estimates and also project schedules.

The Submittal Review Process

It is a known fact in the construction world that the review process of submittals is very tiresome and tedious. Firstly, there has to be detailed data and accurate specifications for every part of the project.

This process can now be done electronically by project construction software. This gives a high-grade accuracy and submittal items quality.

The contractor and everyone working under his umbrella is responsible for designing every project detail and certain design elements. This is because engineers and architects are very limited in how they can go about each project’s designs. Therefore, there is room for most persons with greater expertise to handle certain parts of a project, but there are consequences. 

This is why it is important to have submittals and the processes for their approval and review.

According to the AIA, shop drawings are defined as diagrams or drawings and other specially prepared data that shows some parts of a work. Shop drawings and other documents are a method to communicate what has been designed by the subcontractors. They are also called submittals.

When a task is given, and the contractor wants to communicate how he intends to carry it out formally, he uses shop drawings. This process is a formalized method to communicate this plan. It also allows for a good design review and absolute compliance with the original intent.

It is also important to know what shop drawings aren’t. For a couple of years now, there has been no change in the items that make up contract documents: agreement, general conditions, drawings and specifications. The two items that are absent from the list include shop drawings and submittals.

According to the American Institute of Architects, submittals are regarded as contract documents.

Reduction of Risk

One impedance to projects is misunderstandings, and to avoid them, the role of submittals must be understood by contractors. Lawsuits can also be kept far from the contractor if there is a proper understanding of responsibilities in submittals. 

It is wisdom to be acquainted with one’s obligation. The documents of each contract give shop drawings to the contractor, and afterward, the professional designer. The contractor’s role is to review the submittals, even that of the subcontractors, in other to verify that it is in accordance with the documents. This should be done before it is submitted to the professional designer.

You are making a statement when you send the submittal to the professional designer to review. It means you have reviewed the submittal, approved it, verified the materials, e.g., field measurements, and compared the submittal information requirements.

On this issue of submittal contents, several contractors have been found guilty for worker hazards.

There is a limit to what architects can be held accountable for. Things like: equipment performance, installation instructions, quantities and dimension, fit that description. The AIA holds that architect review doesn’t involve the approval of safety measures or means of construction, procedures and sequences.

The contractor is meant to bring any deviations from what was originally in the contract document to the architect’s notice. When there is a deviation of the shop drawings from the documented contract, there must be a written approval from the architect. The contractor also remains at risk if the architect doesn’t give a full reason and report for the deviation.

No work should be carried out when there is no properly written approval. Until the engineer and architect approve a work governed by the submittal, no contractors can work. The contractor remains at risk outside proper approval. 

Be clear if the alterations in the work scope are shop drawings based. There are many examples of times when the court found the contractors responsible for additional labor costs concerning shop drawings.

Henke Constitution Co.46 and Other Cases 

In Henke Constitution Co.46, a certain contractor pressed for restoration for the expense of extra material and labor owning to the refusal of the government-owner to act upon some shop drawings. This general contractor stated that the failure to disapprove or approve the shop drawings brought damage. The installation stated that the work was shown in the shop drawings and showed unnecessary work not called for by him. 

The court was against the plaintiff, stating the plaintiff’s false assumption that the shop drawings were needed for the job.

In other instances, if there is a requirement for shop drawings, the approval might be a major factor affecting the job’s scope.

In another company’s case, the contractor stated that there was conceal work within its contract scope. The company won this case because of the conclusion that the areas in question were within the contract partially. Also, “details of the shop drawings” was referenced as the scope of work.

One thing to also note is to Act in good faith. It includes doing all you can do to follow through with the contract, specifically about those on reasonable timeliness. Recently in Missouri, there was a conclusion by the Supreme court that the reason for the contract’s delay was a late review of shop drawings by the state.

To have a successfully completed project, there has to be a proper follow-up and management of the submittal process. The shop drawings are not part of the contract documents. However, it is the guideline that ensures productivity from the designer, delivery to the owner, and strict adherence to the contractor’s rules. 

When the contractual obligations are fully observed, and proper attention is paid to the detail for submitting the review, correct project delivery and job is done.

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