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How to Do Construction Submittals

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Construction submittals are documents submitted by the contractor to the architect for his approval for use in a project. They include: product cut sheets identifying manufacturer, model number and manufacturer's specifications; shop drawings identifying detailed dimensions and installation requirements; color and finish selections identified by manufacturers' color charts and finished product components. Construction submittals can eliminate misunderstandings and mistakes in project specification and assist in project coordination.

Identify a standard letter of transmittal or cover letter to accompany construction submittals. Architects who are members of the American Institute of Architects often request G810-2001, called a "Transmittal Letter."

Determine how transmittal records will be kept. AIA Document G712-1972, "Shop Drawing and Sample Record," is the industry standard. The contractor and architect should maintain duplicates of this form, so that both parties can monitor progress.

Make a list all project components that will require construction submittals. The architect usually provides a list in the project specifications. If shop drawing submissions are required, identify them as a separate line item. They will require additional time for preparation.

Schedule the submissions and their required approval dates. Allow time for necessary corrections so that the submission process does not delay the project.

Maintain a record of the architect's approval signatures to resolve possible misunderstandings. An approval signature leaves no room for question.


Consider the use of digital submission. This will eliminate postage and printing and speed the process.


Materials or products installed in a project without the architect's approval can be subject to removal and replacement at the contractor's cost. Know the requirements of your contract.


Gregory Jenkins earned his B.S. in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati in 1971. Technical writing has been an integral part of his 30-year construction career. His interests have recently expanded to include architectural history, and preservation, and he is the author of a weekly blog featuring landmarks in Chicago and the the newly published book "Chicago Figural Sculpture, A Chronological History."

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