How to Create the Perfect HVAC Submittal for Trade Contractors

The quality of a submittal can hamper HVAC contractors’ work. While creating a comprehensive submittal can be intensive work, it is essential for good communication between the contractor team and other teams at the job site. It also serves to detail the equipment and materials required for the project. Let’s talk about the considerations and best practices for creating the perfect HVAC submittal.

What is a submittal?

An HVAC submittal is a series of documents and samples that you, as a contractor, are required to provide to the supervising design team, architects, or engineers before starting work. Construction contracts require submittals from general contractors and subcontractors alike. Once the supervisor approves the submittal, then you can purchase and deliver the required supplies and materials.

Submittals work as a communication and quality control tool. They ensure that all stakeholders have a deep understanding and clear expectations of the project. Subcontractors spend a lot of time putting together all the necessary details. Your submittal may include schedules, product information, drawings, product samples, warranties, and operations and maintenance (O&M) data.

In any construction project, the design team creates a “Spec Book”—the project manual—usually a  document of hundreds of pages. The project manual includes the detailed requirements for the entire project, including the submittal requirements.

What to include in your perfect HVAC submittal (and a checklist)

So, what should be included in your submittal? Here is an overview and example checklist:

  1. Floor plan: The floor plan shows the layout of the building in detail, including submitted or previously approved building plans, wall and roof insulation R-values, and the U-factor of doors and windows. It indicates where the appliances will be installed, and where the exhaust ducts are located. It also includes the duct sealing requirements, the distribution via ductwork, and more.
  2. Sections or details: This covers the details for each of the items described in the floor plan. For example, the size and type of pipes (hydronic or gas), information about the kitchen hood construction, ducts, hydronic systems, and the air transfer to corridors.
  3. Equipment information: This covers all equipment specifications, including schedules and provisioning. It shows the equipment schedules and compliance with NFPA.
  4. Calculations: Here, all the calculations for the project are shown, room by room
  5. Ventilation criteria: This section includes documents, photos, and proof that the mechanical ventilation rates meet minimum code standards. If there are any exceptions, they should be detailed here.
  6. Minimum clearances: A list of all clearances, intakes, and exhausts with descriptions are in this section.
  7. Drawings, schematics, technical papers: All photos, drawings, tables, and printouts that support the submittal are organized in this section.
  8. Product samples and materials: If material samples are needed, catalog numbers would be listed here, as well as an explanation of what the sample is for.
  9. The checklist above can help you keep track of most things you need to list for your perfect HVAC submittal. Don’t forget to include all documentation, including samples, drawings, schematics, and materials you may need. The rule for a great submittal is the more detailed, the better.
  10. Your ideal submittal checklist may need to have other requirements listed. This will vary with the code of your state.

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Tips for creating the perfect submittal

When creating your submittal, the first step is to check your initial contract. There you will usually find the requirements and deadlines for submission. For example, the GC will provide the submittal schedule. If you need metal ducts for one stage and heaters for the next, the deadlines to submit the requests will be in the submittal schedule.

An eye for detail is important. Your submittal must be accurate in all details: requirements, specifications, and schedules. This ensures you avoid getting the wrong materials and equipment.

When in doubt about the timeline or requirements, look at the contract. Ultimately, the guidelines will be determined by the construction contract.

Perfect HVAC Submittal

How does the submittal process work?

Submittal reviews can be extremely long and difficult. They typically have three stages:

  1. Item aggregation: The subcontractor or specialty contractor gathers all submittal items, including detailed data and specifications for each stage of the project. Typically, this involves manual entry processes like spreadsheets. A construction project management software helps to automate this process. 
  2. Architectural and design review: Once the submittals are collected, the architect and design team review everything for compliance with code. 
  3. The general contractor review: This involves checking they have the right products and specifications.

To ensure a seamless submittal process, you should have a good submittal log. The submittal log is a document that tracks all documents of the project. The submittal log should include the following:

  • Where the requirement comes from
  • The submittal name and description
  • The submittal type
  • What is the priority?
  • Details of responsibilities: contractor, manager, and reviewer
  • Required date for sending the submittal and to approve it


Crafting a perfect HVAC submittal can be time-consuming and a bit of a hassle. Instead of spending staff hours gathering and reviewing documents, consider using construction management software. eSUB software can ensure the specs match the scope of the project, storing the data in the cloud for easy access instead of searching through physical documents. eSUB is the only construction management software designed specifically for subcontractors.

Learn more about how eSUB makes creating and sending submittals a breeze. Schedule a demo today.