When it comes to HVAC construction, project managers and company leadership have a lot to juggle, which means, sometimes, HVAC submittals don’t get the attention they deserve. While they may seem like a small step for an HVAC job, they are an essential point of communication between the contractor team and the design team at a given installation. This is especially important for new-construction residential and commercial projects, where there may be several contractors all doing work under the supervision of a design professional like an architect.
Failing to put together comprehensive submittals can hamstring not only your work, but that of the other contractors and subcontractors involved with the project. With this said, here’s all you need to know about these particular documents.
The Basics On Submittals
An HVAC submittal is a set of information that the contractor (you) provides to a supervising design professional in order to get your materials and equipment fabricated. When the professional approves your submittal, you can then proceed to procure and deliver everything specified on said submittal. Note that you have a variety of different formats you can use, like:
— Cut sheets
— Material samples
— Shop drawing
What you need to include in your submittals, as well as deadlines for submission, are generally included in your initial HVAC contract. The contractor will generally need to provide a submittal schedule. So, for example, if you needed a bunch of air filters for one phase, but heaters for another phase, your submittals would say how many, and when, these things are needed. The submittal schedule would give you deadlines when you can send submittals for each phase.
The reason why a submittal schedule is needed, rather than just sending everything in at once, is lead time. Contractors need to think of the lead time for every item they include on a submittal to make sure they can get it fabricated, delivered, and installed all while not causing any delays after approval.
So, what are some of the formal materials that will go in an HVAC submittal? Again, this is generally laid out in the contract.
However, some things you can expect are:
— Quantities of materials of equipment
— Dimensions of said items
— Performance data for any HVAC installation you are going to make
— Design criteria
If you plan on supplying material samples, you may need to include information like:
— Catalog numbers
— Intended use for the sample
— Workmanship standards
Of course, requests and needs may change from project to project. This is why many contracts give a clause for the design professional to request any other information they will need to review your submittal.
How Submittals Are Reviewed
The second major phase of a submittal is a design review. Your submittal schedule gives you a bit of control here as a contractor. It generally outlines how long the professional has to either approve things or request changes. Sometimes, the document gives a specific amount of days, while others simply call for “timely review.” Use your best judgment on what you think is ideal here.
The review of the schedule itself will allow the design professional to confirm that all the equipment and materials they needed listed are listed. They will also make sure your review window is long enough for them to do their jobs. If they do have concerns or need changes, the schedule will be returned to you, the contractor, with comments.
But what about the individual reviews of the submittals (not the submittal schedule).
Say that one of your submittals involves a specific piece of HVAC equipment, like an air conditioner. The design professional will work with their mechanical engineer to make sure that the design specs of the equipment you are looking to get matches the initial requirements. Is there enough horsepower? How many fans are there? This stage basically makes sure anything you install in the site meets everyone’s standards.
Equally important, especially for complex new construction projects, is making sure that the equipment you bring on will fit the structure and other elements going into that space. For example, are the beams space out enough to support the piece you were thinking of? This is largely done to save time. Using this example, it would be a lot easier to space out the steel beams to make space or request another air conditioner, rather than bring it out, discover that it doesn’t fit, then have to make a sudden modification.
Common Question: Will the approval of your submittal supersede any obligations of the initial contract documents?
By default, The answer is no. In order to be relieved of any responsibilities in your contract, three things need to happen:
1. The contractor needs to mention the amendment or variation in a separate written communication to the design professional.
2. The variation then needs to identify the variation in the submittal.
3. The design professional needs to provide written approval.
HVAC submittals may not be the first thing talked about with major projects. However, they play an essential role in a job going off without a hitch. The shop drawings allow workers to understand the nature of the job. Listings of necessary materials give an appropriate sense of scale as well as a basis to calculate lead times. As a result, any HVAC team not only needs to put a lot of time into their submittals, but also have a way for them to be easily referenced at any time.
This is best accomplished through project management software like eSUB. First, when actually creating submittals, these help ensure that the specs match the scope of the project. Second, when the project is going on, our software allows you to store data in the cloud so everyone can quickly reference the same documents, as opposed to having to go to the office or work off of a singular physical data drive.