What Are Construction Submittals and Why Are They So Important?


Planning for construction projects isn’t enough. It’s essential to verify that the right products were included in the installation. These construction submittals primarily involve architects and engineers who oversee that process.

Construction submittals are an integral part of construction project management. We’ll define the term and explain its importance. We’ll outline the various types of construction submittals and the process to help for your next project.

What Is a Construction Submittal?

A construction submittal is provided by subcontractors to the general contractor. It’s usually a written document that’s then given to the design team who reviews and approves the equipment, materials and so forth that the subcontractor intends to use. Only after approval by the architect or engineer will the materials be fabricated and delivered to the construction site.

These construction submittals are anything from shop drawings to material samples. This allows the architect and engineer to ensure that the contractor is requesting the correct materials and the right amount of materials. It also helps ensure that they’ll be installed in the proper fashion and in compliance with the design and contract documents.

Having a back-and-forth between the contractors on the construction site and the design team in the office needs to be seamless. The communication must be clear and the documents shared easily. That’s why most general contractors use construction project management software when managing their projects and controlling construction submittals.

ProjectManager is award-winning construction project management software that allows you to share files and add comments in real time. Our online software has unlimited file storage and is an online hub for all your construction project documentation. Construction submittals can be uploaded into the software in the field and shared with the design team in the office. They can then send approval or any notes to ensure that the work being done is correct. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager has unlimited file storage and file sharing for construction submittals. Learn more

Why Are Construction Submittals Important?

Construction submittals are critical to delivering a construction project as it was designed and contracted. Before any material or equipment can be applied to the construction site, it must be sent to the architect and engineer. They’ll then make sure that the work is the correct type, quantity, etc.

This is the most efficient way of working. If the wrong material, color, etc., is used then that work will be wasted. It’ll have to be razed and redone, which negatively affects the construction project schedule and budget. No general contractor wants that because it comes out of their profits.

This also ensures the quality of the construction and makes certain that the final delivered project meets with the construction project owner’s expectations. The product data submittals, shop drawings and product samples are all critical. Let’s take a moment to define each of these types of construction submittals.

Types of Construction Submittals

As mentioned above, there are several types of construction submittals. This is done for clarity and creates a more orderly construction contract. It also adds efficiency to the process between the contractor’s project management and the design professionals.

It further defines the project in the design stage by making it easier to define the essential and nonessential submittals. While during construction, the contractor has a better understanding of the submittal’s purpose. Following are three of the most common types of construction submittals.

Product Data Submittals

This details the information supplied by the manufacturer of the product. It includes such things as the name, model and quantity, description of its characteristics, size and other physical aspects, what the product’s finish should look like and if there’s anything specific to note for the job site.

Shop Drawings

These are drawings that are made by the contractor, supplier, manufacturer, subcontractor, consultants or fabricator and are critical for installation, show greater delta than other construction documents and help coordinate the work between various fabricated pieces, such as ductwork, plumbing, etc.

Product Samples

Here a sample of the product is submitted, whether the full product or a partial and is used to discern which of several products are most appropriate for the specific piece of work. Sometimes a mockup is used. These product samples are stored on the job site for comparison.

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The Construction Submittal Approval Process

The approval process for construction submittals is part of a larger process for submittals that are made up of six steps. There are various people involved in this process, from the project owner, architect and engineer to the contractor, suppliers, manufacturers and testing agency. While the path of approval for construction submittals isn’t uniform, these are the basic phases.

  1. Review: Before submitting, review the contract so you know the project’s requirements and specifications.
  2. Prepare: Once reviewed, the submittal needs to have all the necessary information, whether it’s shop drawings, product samples, etc.
  3. Submit: Now, give the intended party the construction submittal, following whatever procedure has been set up, such as delivery method, deadline, etc.
  4. Approve: Now, you wait for approval. There might be a request for additional information and revision could be required.
  5. Resubmit: This step only happens if the construction submittal hasn’t been approved and feedback has been provided for revision. Implement those instructions, resubmit and get approval.
  6. Procure: Once the construction submittal has been approved, you begin the procurement process. Get the necessary resources procured and delivered to the construction site. The construction crew can now begin to use the materials.
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What Is a Construction Submittal Log?

A construction submittal log is made by the general contractor to ensure the plans and specifications for the project are followed. This is usually submitted to the design team for approval. The construction submittal log is made at the beginning of the project and tracks materials by the design team before installation.

There can be several products listed on the construction submittal log for the contractor to have some choice in what’s picked for installation. This allows the designer of the construction project to ensure whatever the contractor picks have been approved and fits the project specifications.

The construction submittal log is also used to manage the many materials that are used in a construction project. This includes not materials, certifications, testing requirements and warranties associated with the submittals. It also helps with the delivery of what’s needed to be submitted and when.

Information to include in a construction submittal log includes the name of the submittal, where the requirement came from and what type it is, such as a shop drawing or product data. Also, who provides the material, when the contractor needs it and its status, approved, waiting or not approved, etc.

Request for Proposal (RFP) Template

This free request for proposal template is a document that allows you to list down all the information that you’d like to be included in the construction bids that you’ll receive from construction contractors, which will help you avoid misunderstandings when making a construction agreement.

Request for Proposal Template

We offer a variety of free construction project management templates for Excel you can use to manage all aspects of your project.

Construction Project Management Templates

Construction templates are a great way to streamline the project management process and add efficiency. ProjectManager has dozens of free project management templates for Excel and Word available for immediate download. They cover every aspect of the project life cycle and suit several industries. Here are a few that are specifically geared toward construction project management.

Construction Estimate Template

Construction submittals are resources that can impact your project budget. Having a more accurate forecast for these costs is essential for delivering a successful project. Use our free construction estimate template for Excel and identify the project’s direct, indirect, labor and material costs.

Bill of Quantities Template

Closely related to construction submittals is the bill of quantities, which lists the materials and labor that are required to complete the project. Get a handle on that and the related costs by using our free bill of quantities template for Excel. It helps with estimating, scheduling and determining the project’s scope.

Construction Proposal Template

Before construction submittals, there has to be a construction project. To win the bid for work, use our free construction proposal template for Word to thoroughly convince the project owner that you’re the right general contractor for the job. Here you find everything to prove that point, from outlining the scope of work to costs, payment, scheduling and more.

Manage Construction Submittals With ProjectManager

Construction templates are no substitute for project management software, which can do what a static spreadsheet can’t do. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that can help you manage and track your construction submittals in real time. Not only does our software have unlimited file storage and real-time collaboration to facilitate the construction submittal process, but some features further assist with managing that work.

Multiple Construction Project Management Views

When construction submittals must travel between contractors on the construction site and architects and engineers in the office, you need software that speaks both of those languages. Our software has multiple project views that share real-time data so that contractors using task lists are sharing the same updated information as architects and engineers using Gantt charts or kanban boards. There are even calendars that stakeholders can use to track milestones and make sure the project is progressing as planned.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart with task info
Track Labor Costs With Timesheets & Workload Charts

Getting the right materials to your crew is only part of a successful project. You have to track their work to ensure that they’re not going over budget or overallocated with tasks. Our secure timesheets offer a safe payroll process and give managers transparency into the percentage complete each team member’s tasks are to keep them on budget. Toggle to the color-coded workload chart to see who’s over-tasked and balance the workload by reallocating tasks from the chart. That helps avoid burnout and makes the crew more productive.

ProjectManager's timesheet with assignment popup

Those are only a few of the features of our software. There are also real-time dashboards and customizable reports to track progress and performance and customizable reports for more details, which can also be easily shared to keep stakeholders updated. There are also task management, resource management and risk management features to further control your project and deliver it on time and budget.

Related Construction Content

If you’re looking for more information on construction project management before you decide on construction project management software, you’ve come to the right place. Our site is an online hub with weekly blog posts, tutorial videos, guides and, of course, free templates. Here’s a small sampling of construction-related content.

ProjectManager is online construction project management software that empowers teams to plan, manage and track their projects in real time. Connect teams no matter where they are working, in the field, in the office or anywhere in between. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.