A Guide to Construction Submittals

A Guide to Construction Submittals

February 19, 2023
A Guide to Construction Submittals

A construction submittal is a document containing information about a construction project. Contractors create submittals and send them to the architect or engineer in charge of the project. They provide information about equipment, processes, materials, tools, or products — all of which contractors or subcontractors use to complete work on the project.

The purpose is to ensure that contractors use processes and supplies that fit with the engineering requirements for the project. The architect, engineer, or another design professional involved in the project typically signs off on the submittal before the contractor can use the proposed items or processes for their work.

Meanwhile, contractors can use requests for information (RFIs) to ask architects for more information about their designs to help them select the correct methods and materials for their job. The design and construction sides of the project can use these two document types to leave a paper trail when they communicate with one another.

Here is a closer look at the different types of construction submittals and details of the requirements and formatting of the documents.

The Importance of Construction Submittals

Construction submittals are important for several reasons. First, they ensure quality standards are met — contractors must the correct materials, products, tools, processes, or prefabricated parts for the project. Second of all, the documents also ensure time is not wasted by redoing or repairing an element that was not up to specifications.

This is helpful during all steps of the project for all employees. For architects and other members of the design team, in particular, submittals bring up choices that they might not have considered during the initial design phase.

Submittals can also affect cost estimates. Once approved, the contractor can be sure of the cost for that particular element of the project. However, if the submittal shows that changes are necessary, they can adjust the price in their construction takeoff estimation software and plan for the increased expense.

Submittals can also be useful in ensuring compliance with building ordinances, which could specify safety requirements, such as the location of gas or electric lines, the size of exhaust vents, and other details.

Types of Construction Submittals

Because there are so many different elements involved in construction projects, there are many different types of submittals. However, some are very common.

Regardless of the subject, the submittal document itself will have similar elements.

Important Elements of a Construction Submittal

There are different types of submittals, but the documents have a similar format to make them easier to compile and read.

One document can contain information about multiple elements. For example, a product data submittal could be organized in rows, with each row listing information about a different product the contractor plans to use.

The Construction Submittal Process

The submittal process requires specific steps to ensure all the necessary information gets included in each document. This process happens throughout the overall project timeline so that contractors do not have to delay work plans to wait for approval from designers. It includes the following steps:

It is possible to streamline the process for contractors by using data from estimating software to create submittal forms automatically without requiring contractors to spend time manually entering the information.

The Submittal Review Process

After the documents get passed to the design team, they will review the information to confirm that it fits with the overall plans and meets any necessary compliance requirements.

Here is how that process plays out.

The timeline for review should take into account the possibility of some need for resubmissions or corrections. With some projects requiring hundreds of different submittals, there are bound to be a few changes.

How To Improve Construction Submittals

Submittals can affect the timeline for a project and create extra work for contractors and subcontractors when they collect the necessary information and supporting documentation for their work.

Here are some options for streamlining the process.

Cloud-based software can also help contractors track each submittal to ensure quick responses.

Submittal Template

The exact layout of a submittal template can vary. However, it will likely have the following information:

Submittal ID#:


Submittal Type:


Date Submitted:


Submittal Name:

Supporting Evidence:



Attachments (drawings, product specifications, color grids):



Review Status:


Reviewer Comments:


With a well-planned system using cloud-based software that provides easy access to the necessary information, you can streamline your submittal process.

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