What is a Submittal? Everything You Need to Know

What is a Submittal? Everything You Need to Know

No one likes having to create submittals and those outside of the industry might wonder what is a submittal? Most information around submittals is about processes and how to improve processes around submittals. However, these articles don’t answer the core question, what is a submittal and why is it used in construction.

What is a Submittal?

Submittals are documents, samples, and other information that must be delivered to the architects, engineers, consultants, and more on a project before work even starts on a project. These are absolutely crucial for any project because projects run on specs and plans. Using the drawings provided, subcontractors have to say what material and more they’re going to use. The project manager or construction manager adds these to the Project Manual. The Project Manual can be thousands of pages, but it includes important information like drawings, products selected, quality assurance and testing information, documentation, and more.

Common Types of Submittals

There are many types of documents and more that make up submittals. There are different standards that the engineers or architects might want the subcontractors to follow. And the information needed will differ based on the type of submittal and the standards used. However, these are the more common submittals and information needed.


Samples are examples of the products that will be used in construction. The contractors choose what they want to use in construction and the construction manager takes examples for analysis. These could be specific samples of soil, paint, or more. The samples offer the engineers and designers a chance to make final aesthetic choices for the whole project.

Sometimes it will actually be a mock-up. A recent and famous example of a mock-up would be the 30ft border wall mock-ups erected in  San Diego. While these were created to showcase what specific contractors would do if, given the contract, the principle is the same. Mock-ups are physical examples of what might be constructed.

Product Data

Product data is technical information about the materials usually provided by the manufacturer. This can include dimensions, materials, characteristics for use and performance, warranty, and more. But it can also be product manuals, blueprints, and other documentation. In all, product data is broad. These are more informational since it helps the construction manager, engineers, and architects determine if the products proposed will work with the overall design of the building. A lot of this is based on whether the materials will hold up to the set building standards.

Shop Drawings

Shop drawings, blueprints, diagrams, drawings, schedules, and others are classified as shop drawings. These shop drawings illustrate the work that will be performed by that subcontractor and showcase the work that will go into that. The standards will differ based on the project and who is managing it. However, what is needed should be included in the contract.

What is a submittal?: Construction Submittal Process

To ensure all project participants’ accountability and help the project stay on track, submittals can be a useful tool. Here are the submittal example steps for preparation and execution.


The pre-construction phase of a project is just as important to the submittal process as any other phase. In general, the pre-construction conference gives everyone a chance to ask questions and discuss the project by bringing everyone together. The submittal process can and should be clarified at this meeting because it ensures that everyone understands the standards. As a whole, it makes delays and mistakes less likely and provides everyone with valuable information.


It’s important to set a submittal schedule. The schedule will help keep the project on track because the architect or engineer has only so many hours in the day to ensure that the materials used will be stable for the project. And since not every submittal needs to be completed before construction starts, this helps space out their time. They don’t want to do submittals purely on a first come first serve basis. And if the engineer or architect doesn’t approve of the materials, it gives them time to either resubmit with different materials, or it gives them time to purchase the materials.

Submittals Prep

With the schedule set, subcontractors should begin their submittal process. Before they start the process, they need to gather the necessary documentation, and sometimes even samples. For some things, it will be very simple, like getting color approval. While other areas, they might have a different approval process. Regardless, everyone must submit all required documentation outlined at the pre-construction meeting.


The review process will be done on the architect or engineer’s side. They will look at the materials list and all supporting documentation to determine the effect of the material on the project. This is to prevent issues down the line and to protect the structural integrity of the building, and prevent rework. Once the submittal is approved or disapproved, then the subcontractor can resubmit with new materials, or they can get to work.

The right tools can be a big help

Subcontractors are turning to construction management software to simplify document management, improve change order process, and upgrade the collaboration between the field and office—thereby improving productivity and saving costs. 

eSUB’s cloud-based project management solution was designed specifically for construction subcontractors, giving them a real-time view and account of their documents and processes, and enabling them to manage it all within an easy-to-use platform. Our mobile app allows you to gather information, fill out a report, digitally sign it, and immediately share it right from the field to improve the submittal process.

See a quick testimonial video where contractors describe how eSUB Cloud helps their businesses.

If you would like to improve your submittal process and maximize the benefits of an innovative construction management software, schedule a demo to learn how eSUB can help. 

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