Substantial Completion is a term used for when a project or a specific phase of a project is essentially completed allowing for it’s use or the next phase to begin. This term is generally used & tied into payment schedules.
For example, in a bathroom renovation one could be completely finished with the exception of some special order door & drawer pulls and maybe some touch-up painting. In essence the bathroom is sufficiently completed and can be considered operational and fit for it’s intended use. Based on the terms of the contract a retainage fee maybe held back to assure it is completed & everything works satisfactorily.