“He with the most documents wins” is a famous maxim in the construction industry. Documentation of when different teams sent certain documents and files or informed of the work changes can be vital when resolving disputes. Having the most accurate filing and documentation is necessary if you want to win, and one of the most crucial documents in construction is a transmittal form.
In managing construction projects, transmittals play a critical role for it provides specific information of what was sent, when it was sent, and who it was sent to. They generally help document the flow of information between stakeholders in a project, which decreases the risks of miscommunication.
A transmittal, also known as a “letter of transmittal,” is a document that is sent along with the other construction documents, files, or samples, generally to show when and to whom they were sent. Transmittals are commonly used on commercial construction projects. It is considered one of the most effective communication forms between the project construction managers to keep all vested stakeholders updated on the happenings on site. These stakeholders can include the project owner, designers, architects, engineers, inspectors, or government agency staff.
What is the Difference Between Transmittals and Submittals?
Generally, the primary purpose of transmittal is to formally documents the sending of documents, files, and collateral materials. I the documents are physical copies of materials that can be distributed by hand, the sender can request the receiving party to sign the transmittal as proof of delivery. In the case where transmittals are sent electronically or through the mail, a separate proof of receipt or delivery will be needed.
Generally, submittals consist of product details and samples submitted to the designers for approval before purchasing any materials and project installation. Submittals usually includes product data sheets, SDS, brochures, color charts, and product samples.
The design team or the designers are expected to review and analyze these documents to confirm their adherence to the project specifications. After the documents are reviewed, they are returned to the contractor for purchasing and installation of materials. The purpose behind this is to ensure that the materials used on the project are aligned with the designer’s plans.
On the other hand, a transmittal may accompany a submittal for documentation of what has been sent and as a way to request a review of a submittal. As a matter of fact, this specific document can be called a “Submittal Transmittal.”
Details Provided in Construction Transmittal Forms
- Date it was sent
- Sender’s information (name, company, and address)
- Recipient’s information (name, company, and address)
- Project name, contact number, and address
- Purpose or reason why the documents or items are being sent
- Actions to be taken by the recipient and when those actions are due
- List of documents, files, or collaterals to be sent.
How Transmittals Are Used in Construction
Transmittals are used to keep a comprehensive record of information sent from one party to another. When it comes to construction projects, it is critical to know when information, such as a plan devised by the designer, was distributed and who received it.
In the case of email correspondence, transmittals are not as prevalent as they once were. Many project information and documents are sent out informally through email, and the record of the sent email is already sufficient. However, essential construction documents such as submittals, contracts, notices, collaterals, and plans, should have a letter of transmittal included to catalog when or where the documents were sent.
1. Sending Transmittals
With transmittals typically sent along with other files, materials, or documents, it can be sent in any format that accompanies the attachments. The content or information from a transmittal letter could also be included in the email’s body when documents are attached to make it more convenient to search for the record.
You can use various software packages to create letters of transmittals, send them to necessary parties, and track where your letters are in real-time. One of the frontrunner project management software in the market allows attachments of documents with build-up storage, so you will never lose your letters of transmittals in the clutter- you will always find it in one place.
If you are currently not using software but want to learn the basics of transmittals for your project, you may opt to create a Transmittal Form Template for starters. This can be made using the most ready-to-use programs you already have, such as Word and Excel, and build from there.
There are no standards or laws mandated in making a transmittal document. The most important aspect is that it would contain the necessary information that you and the party who would receive it need record-keeping for future reference.
4. A Potential Evidence for Disputes
There a wide range of documents, files, and collaterals that change hands during a construction operation. Keeping a detailed and updated tracking system of when they were distributed and supposed to receive them is imperative. The successes of potential lawsuits and claims in the future often hinge on this information, so having concrete proof that the vital documents were sent can help win your case.
Conflict about who knew what and when can be trigger contract disputes and payment delays in any project. Having an accurate paper trail makes it easier to prove information when needed. Emails and digital records often get lost or accidentally deleted, so it’s better to have different copies of your records.
Best Practices for Managing Construction Submittals
Contractors and other project stakeholders need to coordinate the submittal process as part of the project management for the construction cycle. Submittals that cover project materials are required early in the project must get the highest priority. Still, contractors also have to factor in the lead time for items that need fabrication. The lead time allows the construction team to preorder items that will not be used until late in the construction operations.
Here are specific problems that usually recur with construction submittals that you and your team can prevent in the next project, moving forward:
- Erroneous and incomplete specifications in submittals by the engineers and architects in contract documents.
- Submittals that were sent to engineers and architects without being reviewed first by the general contractor.
- The architect’s submittal receipts directly from the general contractor’s subcontractors.
- General contractor’s submittals are not on the specification lists.
- An incomplete and missing submittal from the contractors.
- Short review time for submittals due to delays.
- Late submittals are relative to the project lifecycle.
- Incomplete and erroneous shop drawings.
- Material and product substitutions.
- Work installed before review and processing of submittals.
Designers can minimize these problems by following some of the best practices in submittals:
- Write well-thought-out and detailed submittal specifications.
- Return all submittals that the general contractor did not review before sending them to the architects and engineers.
- Refuse to review any submittals directly sent to the architects and engineers and forward them first to general contractors.
- Refuse to review any unspecified submittals and send them again to the general contractor for revisions.
- Require the general contractor to include the submittal schedule as part of the contract.
- Include in the specifications how long the architect or engineer has to review the submittals, regardless of whether it is relative to the schedule.
- Review unreviewed, erroneous, and incomplete submittals.
- Project substitution needs to be proportionate, or else they are rejected.
- Lastly, if work has already been installed without a submittal, carefully review the installed work for contract compliance. If it showed to be non-compliant, then demand the general contractor to revise the work after following the proper submittal process.
Transmittals, such as submittals and RFIs, are crucial construction tools for helping project managers to keep schedule throughout the project cycle. The critical documents adhere to specific response workflows unique to contractors and other project stakeholders and require tracking. If something is overlooked, it could be costly and eliminate profits or cause a potential lawsuit in the long run.
So, why would a contractor continue doing things the old fashioned way when employing a construction scheduling software solution such as Pro Crew Schedule that can automate workflows and tasks to reduce risk through improved document control. This software program can monitor and track responses to RFIs and submittals and know any exceptional cases. It will also help you and your company save time, money, and desk piked with paperwork quickly lost in the file cabinets. Imagine never losing a single file or document again because it’s kept in a secure and hosted virtual filing cabinet and accessible from any mobile device.
Learn more about the features that Pro Crew Schedule offers to help your company document control and more.