Submittal log and tracking of submittals and materials

This post is written from a General Contractor point of view. below we will list some key items to be considered when processing submittal logs.

  • All the materials you use on a project will need a formal submittal that needs to be approved by the Architect, Engineers and other consultants as applicable.
  • The making of your submittal log does not start when you start receiving submittals. If this is the case it means you are already late. You should start a submittal log before the project starts, first by going through all your drawings and specifications and determine what submittals are needed. The best way to do is first looking at all the drawings and make a preliminary list of all submittals you can think of, which would be required on this job, as per those drawings. On some projects, Architects or engineers like to make a list of submittals in there too, in addition to specs, so pay attention to the notes too. (You should go through these notes even if there was no special submital section there anyway). There is a better way however. Before even this, the WBS structure and schedule must be formed, which will also automatically have all work start dates. Then from this submittal dates can be extracted. So it is best to follow everything from the work schedule, which follows the WBS of the work. Everything should stick to it, and have a reference from it, even the cost accounts.
  • Once you believe you are finished with going through the drawings, then it is time for a detailed specification review for submittals. All applicable specification sections should have a submittal subsection. Read through all of the specifications, not just the submittal section. Doing so will save you time and effort later, and will prevent delays and cost impacts on your job. The job you do here will affect all your submittal tracking process later and it is very important. So be as thorough as you can and if it is possible, show your work to someone else for review. It is always possible to make mistakes on a task which involves so many items. Going through the specification sections will enable you to complete the submittal list. On many jobs, the submittal section is more detailed than what is needed in reality. So, check with Architect and Engineer if you have doubts about some sections. Most of the time, they may either waive certain things or make it easier for completing the requirements on that submittal as applicable, if it really makes sense for everyone and does not mean cutting any corners or undermining the interests of the Owner. Do not forget that in theory, and by your contract, you owe 100% of those items and requirements listed there to the Owner.
  • After you believe you made a complete submittal list, per all the drawings and specifications, now it is time to determine the lead times. Both for the materials themselves, and the duration for getting the submittal from the subcontractors. Of course you will allow the specified review period for the submittal as well, which is usually 2 weeks. And it is advisable to allow for another round of submittal review, in case the first submittal is not accepted. When you have all these durations, it is time to look at your job schedule and see when you will need that material. Now you can go ahead and mark all these dates counting backwards from the required installation date on your submittal log. This will enable you to track all submittals per your schedule.
  • It is strongly recommended that after you determine all the required submittal and material delivery dates, you make a simple table showing all these and get a signed commitment of those dates from each trade. Ideally, when the job was being bought out, the subcontractor signed the contract with a schedule attached. However to make things more clear and as an extra layer of protection for yourself, (as a GC), you should definitely try to get this committed dates signed by your subcontractor. Doing this will in many cases enable them to identify your mistakes or even missing items too. So it is good for everyone actually. It will also make things much smoother between you and your subcontractor through the course of the job because instead of scrambling later and trying to figure out what is needed when later, you are now taking care of everything ahead of time and all needs to be done after that is to follow what was agreed. The is a big part in project planning.
  • After you get all the committed dates and finalize your list with your subcontractors input, you should continuously follow up with those items to make sure that everyone is on schedule.
  • The things described here will cause problem later, if it is not done properly in the beginning. So treat this step as one of the most important steps of your job and do complete this step as soon as possible, before your job even starts.

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