Industry Insight Resources

Construction Submittals: What Are They & Why Are They Important?

Many steps are essential to construction projects in order to avoid setbacks and misuse of funds. An example is construction submittals, which help kick-start the fieldwork in a much more streamlined way, guaranteeing that all people involved are on the same page.

Along with that, construction management software is transforming the industry landscape and changing the way everyday tasks are handled. It does so by automating complex processes and creating a more efficient approach to project management. Learn more about how that can be done below.

What are construction submittals?

Construction submittals are critical documents that contractors and suppliers provide to the project owner or architect/engineer for approval before starting construction. These documents include details about materials, products, equipment, and methods that will be used in the project.

Submittals ensure that the proposed items meet the project’s specifications, standards, and requirements. They help the project team review and approve the proposed components before actual construction work begins, making sure everything aligns with the project’s design and quality standards.

This helps mitigate any unnecessary setbacks to the timeline or budget. The quality of submittals is important, as the level of detail and accuracy will directly impact the overall success of the project. That’s why learning how to properly create these construction documents is essential to every worker in the field.

How does the submittals process work?

The submittals process begins early, guiding the project’s execution, cost, quality, and success. It’s one of the first steps taken by a project manager or contractor after the execution of a construction contract and issuance of the “Notice to Proceed”.

Once the technical specifications are received, the architects and engineers use the information provided to verify the quantity of materials and products needed to complete the project. Then, they can approve, disapprove, or make comments on the documentation.

The construction submittals process also allows design architects to select colors, patterns, and types of material that were not decided before the completion of construction drawings.

However, it’s important to note that this is not an opportunity for the architect to select different materials than what was agreed upon. Rather, this serves to clarify the selection within the quality level indicated in the spec sheets and the quantities shown on plans.

After submittals are reviewed and approved by the product and design teams, they’re returned to the project manager. That signifies they’re approved for construction or fabrication.

Contractor taking a look on the iPad on a job site.

How to optimize the submittals process

Construction submittals are important because they drive the accuracy of project completion, the timeline, and line items on the budget. Therefore, managing the submittals process is one of the essential duties of the project manager or contractor.

However, the process has traditionally been considered long and arduous, given the amount of detailed data and specifications required for every facet of a project. That is because, in the past, it required tedious and time-intensive manual data entry into construction submittals samples or programs, such as Excel.

That not only consumes time but also creates room for human error and inaccuracies. Happily, nowadays, it’s possible to count on construction software like Premier to automate this process.

Our system automates this complex process by dramatically improving data accuracy, document management and sharing, team communication, and collaboration. It saves valuable time and money, contributing to project overall success.

Premier Construction Software

If you’re looking for software to help you and your team to create detailed and accurate construction submittals, Premier might just be the right fit for you. With our platform, you can:

  • Create and email submittal links to multiple parties;
  • Have live collaboration with any third party — no extra fee;
  • Add stamps, boxes, comments, and more to a construction-specific annotation toolbar;
  • Merge multiple files, sort and regroup them;
  • Track responses, due dates, version control, and full history;
  • View all submittals’ histories;
  • Customize workflow configuration;
  • Revise and resubmit documentation;
  • View and share historical responses;
  • Automate new requests for revisions;
  • Set due dates and track overdue items.

Enhance your submittal management with Premier Construction Software!

Efficiently handle construction submittals and streamline your project’s success with Premier’s advanced Financial Construction Software solution. Say goodbye to paperwork hassles and hello to a next-gen platform that empowers you to manage submittals seamlessly. Discover all that Premier has to offer by requesting a demo with our team.

Tips & Advice Company News Industry Insight Resources Ultimate Guide

The Importance of Employee Training for Construction Software

Software training is key during new software implementation. For workers, it helps them learn the software’s workflow, allows them to test drive the solution, ask specific questions and get more help when needed. For companies, it reduces the transition time, improves morale, and improves efficiency. For more on these benefits and some additional ones, see the list below.

Employee Benefits

1. Learn the software’s workflow

One of the reasons many companies upgrade their software is to gain efficiencies. If you use the same process or workflow in new software, you won’t gain anything. However, through training, you’ll learn how the new software handles data entry, processing, and reporting. Without training, you may spend more time trying to make it do something the way you want it to work, and this wastes time, and money, and reduces your ROI.

2. Concentrate on learning

If you’re trying to implement new software while keeping up with your other duties, it can get stressful fast. The strain of juggling your existing work can make it more difficult for you to learn how to use the new system. By setting aside training time, you can fully concentrate on learning new processes and workflows without the added stress of your other duties.

3. Test drive the software

Training gives you the time to work with real-world examples in the new system. During training, you’ll enter transactions, process data, and run reports, just as you would in your daily work. By “test driving” the software with real data you get a chance to not only see how the software works, but also learn by actively performing the work. Once you go live, you’ll have the data you worked with during training to remind you how each process is performed.

4. Ask specific questions

Every company has situations that are handled differently in that company, and training gives you a chance to ask questions about these situations and work out what needs to be done with an instructor. In addition, you’ll get a chance to learn from questions that others ask during the training, and you’ll receive direct feedback from the instructor.

5. Get added help when needed

Your training time is the time to ask for help. If you’re having difficulty performing a process or knowing what to do next, it’s time to ask for and get the added assistance you need so you can be fully confident using the software. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s during a class or one-on-one. Our team is here to make sure you get the training and information you need to make the most of our solution.

Company Benefits

1. Reduce transition time

Anytime you change or update a software solution, there’s going to be a learning curve and it’s going to take time to get the new system up and running. However, when employees aren’t trained properly, this transition time can be extended as they use trial and error to figure things out. But with training and assistance from the software team, this time can be reduced, as well as the number of headaches.

2. Get the most from software efficiencies

You probably didn’t buy new software because it was going to take just as much time to do things as your current solution. You’re probably looking for some efficiencies or cost savings to justify your purchase. In order to take advantage of the efficiencies and improved reporting promised, you’ll need to learn how the developers intend the software to work. Training will walk you through each process and show you exactly how you can save time using the new system.

3. Save time on trial and error

Some teams will work diligently using trial and error to figure things out. This takes a lot of time, as data is entered, deleted, and reentered in a different way. Workers may be trying to use an old system with new software, and that just isn’t going to cut it. Why waste time with trial and error when training can give you the answers you need, allow you to practice using the new system, and get you up and running faster?

4. Improve morale

Software transitions are stressful. Team members can get frustrated with delays and time spent fixing errors and reentering data. When everyone gets trained on how to use the system properly, there’s reduced stress and employee turnover. Workers develop a sense of teamwork as they work together to implement the new system. They help each other solve problems and work through the process more quickly.

5. Track training progress

Employers can quantify and track the training progress of their employees, so they know at a glance who has practiced what skills. This can help with cross-training and job shadowing. If an employee is going to be changing positions, make sure they have time to review their training and refresh their knowledge about the new process.

Buying new software and not providing training is like throwing a person in the water and telling them to swim. They’ll figure it out, but it’s going to take a while and they won’t be very good at it. Software training provides an opportunity for workers to learn new skills, practice them, and see how the new system works. Employers benefit from reduced transition time, improved team morale, and the ability to quantify and track each worker’s skills.

[su_divider divider_color=”#3EB54B” size=”2″]

Author Biography:

Dawn Killough is a construction writer with over 20 years of experience with construction payments, from the perspectives of subcontractors and general contractors. Dawn has held roles such as a staff accountant, green building advisor, project assistant, and contract administrator.  Her work for general contractors, design firms, and subcontractors has even led to the publication of blogs on several construction tech websites and her book, Green Building Design 101.

Ultimate Guide Industry Insight Resources Tips & Advice

How Severe is the Construction Industry’s Labor Shortage?

A lack of skilled workers is nothing new to the construction industry. Trade organizations, hiring managers, and small businesses have been complaining that the trades just aren’t attracting young adults anymore, and the current workforce is aging out.

But that labor shortage became even more apparent during the pandemic. With fewer people willing to risk going to work combined with a boom in residential construction, the labor shortage continued to grow. How severe is the issue, and how can it get better? These are the questions the industry should be asking.

While the construction industry faced labor shortages in the past (think back to the housing boom of the 2000s), the one it’s facing now is a serious challenge. Estimates show that to keep up with current demand, the US construction industry would have to add 650,000 skilled workers to its ranks. If projections are correct, the current trajectory will require 2.2 million new workers within the next three years just to meet current housing needs.

The Canadian outlook is actually worse. Numbers in Canada require hiring an additional 80,000 workers. Considering population numbers, this is a higher percentage than the issue seen in the US.

What’s causing it?


Plain and simple: folks are retiring. The average age of retirement for construction workers in the US is 61 years old. In Canada, the age of retirement across all industries is slightly higher at 64 years old. With over 20 percent of the industry’s workforce being over 55, they’re leaving in droves. 

The pandemic didn’t help. The Great Recession helped many employees find the door, spurring moves to other industries as well as trips to social security offices around the country. 

Lack of Young People

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the interest of young people in entering the construction trade is far too low. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 20 to 24-year-old segment made up just 7 percent of the survey respondents working in the construction industry. 

The root cause of this issue is the younger generation’s upbringing that focuses on college and degrees rather than skills or licenses. Instead of construction, this age group is seeking employment in the medical, business/management, and tech or IT fields. 

Market Competition

Even if there wasn’t a housing boom at hand, the industry would be in trouble. Unemployment rates are low, while vacant job numbers are very high, indicating that every industry is facing the same shortage. In this environment, job seekers have options.

Construction employees are leaving job sites for better working conditions in the service or warehouse industries. Those that are staying in construction, they’re able to bounce from employer to employer in search of better pay and better healthcare.

Increased Demand

The pandemic might’ve shut some individual job sites down, but it didn’t slow the construction industry much. Project volumes ballooned with a shift from typical commercial construction to a focus on residential home building. Folks were leaving cities in droves, building new houses, or renovating older ones in the country in order to escape the monotony of struggling cities.

Commercial construction’s direction changed as well. With so many folks staying home and ordering their goods online, fulfillment centers became a precious commodity. Warehouse construction is experiencing a boom in volume without a boom in skilled labor.

What Does This Mean for the Industry?

Ultimately, the labor shortage will have a profound effect on the construction industry. Business owners will need to offset increased costs, and keeping projects on track will seem an impossible task. 

Increased Prices

Construction companies big and small have had to increase the amount they pay their employees over the course of the pandemic. They’ve also had to improve employee benefits to sweeten the deal. The issue is that with already slim profit margins, these companies have had to offload these increased costs of doing business onto customers and project owners.

More Delays

One of the issues of hiring during a labor shortage is that it’s not always possible to find quality employees or vet their experience before hiring. Many projects have gone off the rails in recent history due to poor quality and low productivity. Couple those issues with up to 25 percent of project owners reporting delayed or incomplete deliveries, and delays abound.

Lack of Experienced Leadership

With so much of the experienced workforce hanging up their hardhats, there’s going to be a marked reduction in seasoned leadership. Employers will be forced to promote less experienced employees to foreman or project management positions than they had in the past. While there’s always a learning curve, this lack of experience may cause a ripple effect through the workforce, possibly causing lower productivity, more waste, and more inefficiencies until this group of managers matures.

What Can the Construction Industry Do About the Shortage?

Construction as a whole has been trying to solve the labor shortage issue for a very long time. However, there are a few moves that companies can make to lessen the impact a labor shortage has on the company’s growth.

Consider Improving Wages and Benefits

The modern job seeker has options, and it’s important that companies make their outfit the most attractive. Higher pay than the competition is certainly helpful, but so are better healthcare programs, fringe benefits like childcare reimbursement, tuition assistance, or more days off for time with family. 

These changes may increase younger job seekers’ attention, giving the construction industry a leg up on manufacturing or e-commerce. They can also help one company stand out against the rest. While this will ultimately cost the company more money, it may be one of the only ways to keep a staff full during a continental labor shortage.

Focus on Training

Rather than finding new skilled labor, construction companies can attempt to mold current employees into skilled ones. Investing in tuition or training programs will help employees learn the types of skills that a company can build on. Sending them to specialized schools or setting up programs where senior staff mentors them on their way towards licensure may also be options.

While there is always a risk in training someone only to lose them to another company, consider that it’s possible to invest in a person’s future and create a loyal employee. It also gives employees the feeling that the employer cares—something today’s generation of job seekers is looking for. This can help retain staff rather than let them slip away to competitors offering slightly more money.

Reduce Inefficiencies

Getting more boots on the ground is a challenge that will take long-term planning, so the construction industry needs to focus on finding solutions in the interim. One move that most construction companies could benefit from is reducing inefficiencies through technology.

For example, companies that switch from basic accounting software to construction-specific management software can lower some of their dependence on specific manpower. These software programs are customizable, allowing users to tailor workflows, create custom forms, provide wireless access to current drawings, and track progress through accurate, up-to-date job costing reports.

While technology might not replace skilled labor, it can help make management personnel more efficient. With access to cloud-based drawing storage, site leadership can ensure the crews are working from the most current drawings to prevent mistakes. These folks will also be able to send and receive RFIs and change orders and their approvals from the site, potentially reducing the need to leave for administrative tasks.

Promote Awareness

The construction industry still has a stigma, and it’s preventing younger job seekers from considering it as a potential career path. The idea of it being a low-paying, gruff boys’ club is keeping folks with degrees from joining the ranks of new electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and other trades.

The industry must consider promoting awareness that a career in construction can be a fulfilling and inclusive one. With the potential for promotions, a great living, and competitive benefits, getting the word out that construction could be a viable option for young folks shouldn’t be hard.

Part of promoting awareness may mean shifting the focus from marketing the business to marketing the careers. Senior management may need to partner with local youth organizations and social groups to encourage open dialogue about the industry. Adopting modern media streams like social media, YouTube, and podcasts can help reach younger audiences as well.

None of these tactics will have an immediate impact on the labor shortage, but they can help change the stigma that construction is a dead-end career choice. Young folks who are on the fence about what to do after high school or college may not be considering the industry, and some pointed effort can help. 

The Labor Shortage Isn’t Going Away — Companies Have to Act Now

Ultimately, every industry is feeling the pain of the labor shortage. Construction, however, is particularly affected since it needs skilled workers. It’s important that the industry—and the companies that comprise it—make the moves necessary to attract new employees, retain current ones, and make sure they’re operating as efficiently as possible over the next decade.

Get your business back in financial control amidst the labor shortages. Find out how Premier can empower your business for success.



Author Biography:

Tom Scalisi has over 15 years of experience working in the trades. Since moving to full-time freelance writing, he has developed a passion for helping construction companies grow. He enjoys teaching contractors how technology can streamline their businesses and educating them about their rights during payment disputes. 

Tips & Advice Industry Insight Resources

Automate & Standardize Construction Compliances

Contractors know the value of staying in compliance with their contracts and their customers – it can make or break the relationship. Keeping up with compliance requirements and ensuring that customers have all the information they need can leave those contractors without an organized process scrambling.

Developing a process, standardizing it, and using automation to carry out routine tasks improves efficiency and saves money. But you may wonder, how do you do this?

So, what is contract compliance?

Let’s start by getting clear on what contract compliance means in the construction industry. Contracts require certain documents and information from contractors so that project owners know that they are operating within the terms of the agreement.

There’s an almost endless list of items that could be requested in a project contract, and each contract is different. Contractors have to provide the requested information and documentation to ensure the owner that they are meeting the requirements, not only at the beginning of the project but throughout its life.

Here’s just a shortlist of information that may need to be communicated to a project owner to ensure compliance:

  • Licensing
  • Insurance
  • Bonding
  • Credit information
  • Background check
  • Union agreement
  • Lien requirements and notices
  • Safety and health information

Ensuring that these documents are received by the owner, meet the contract requirements, and remain up to date with all your clients can be difficult if you aren’t tracking them in an organized fashion.

Here are some suggestions to get started on standardizng and automating your contract compliance process.

1. Create a process

The first step to automating and standardizing your contract compliance process is to create one if you don’t have one already. If you already have a process, document it so everyone knows what it is.

The steps in a contract process may include:

  1. Contract intake and review
  2. List items that need to be sent for compliance
  3. Review list for any items you don’t already have
  4. Obtain/collect compliance documents
  5. Sign contract
  6. Return contract to client
  7. Review requirements regularly for ongoing compliance

Depending on the specific compliance requirements, more steps may be needed. Make the process as simple as possible but recognize that it needs to be flexible as well.

2. Define roles

Now that you have the process written down, you’ll need to define who is responsible for taking care of each part. Steps can be assigned to departments or specific employees, depending on the size of your company.

For each step in the process, define what needs to be done, who is going to do it, and when it will be completed. It’s important to set deadlines for the completion of tasks, as contracts are often time-driven, and you need to ensure that you’ll meet the deadlines listed.

Be sure to include a way to deal with new documents or new requirements that you haven’t come across before. As situations and conditions change, contract requirements will as well. Assign someone to research the new requirements, as well as assign the task to the appropriate department or employee.

Once the process has been written up and all the steps assigned, distribute the information to everyone involved in contract management. Everyone needs to know who will be performing each role and how long they have to perform it, so they can keep each other accountable.

3. Automate as much as possible

Once you’ve created a standardized process for contract compliance, automation is the next logical step. Instead of wasting time finding and collecting paper documents, use technology to expedite the process. Automation helps streamline processes, which will save your team time and improve efficiency. And the chance for human error is reduced when compliance tasks are automated.

Construction management software can help automate your compliance processes. Online document storage and notifications can help ensure that you stay in compliance with your customers.

4. Periodically review and audit the system

On a periodic basis, you should review the system and audit the results to ensure that you are maintaining compliance with your customers. Talk to the employees involved in the process and look for gaps or areas that continually get bogged down. You’ll also want to review the current status of compliance over all your contracts to ensure that the system is working effectively.

Once you’ve completed the review and audit, assess the overall system to see if it is working and if it’s effective. If there are changes that need to be made, implement them, and then review the process again after a while. Continual improvement will help ensure that the process remains effective.

5. Remain flexible

COVID has taught us that we have to remain flexible and ready to pivot at any time. Contract requirements can be changed in an instant, and new requirements are added all the time. Meet with your compliance team regularly to ensure that the current processes are meeting the needs of the contracts and make changes, as necessary.

Start the process today!

The first step to standardizing and automating your contract compliance process is to write it down. Then assess it to see if it’s effective. Assign roles and responsibilities so each step is covered. Then, find out how technology can improve your efficiency by automating as much of the process as possible. Software, like Premier Construction Software, can track expiration dates and prompt you to request new documents as needed, and provide online file storage so your whole team has access to compliance documents from anywhere. Reviewing and improving your compliance processes ensures that your company is always running at the peak of efficiency.

Author Biography:

Dawn Killough is a construction writer with over 20 years of experience with construction payments, from the perspectives of subcontractors and general contractors. Dawn has held roles such as a staff accountant, green building advisor, project assistant, and contract administrator.  Her work for general contractors, design firms, and subcontractors has even led to the publication of blogs on several construction tech websites and her book, Green Building Design 101.

Ultimate Guide Resources

Ultimate Guide to Change Orders in Construction

If you’ve been around construction for any amount of time, you know how fluid a project can be. A would-be straightforward scope can morph and adapt several times before the project receives its Certificate of Occupancy.

Because a construction contract can be so rigid, and a project so fluid, there needs to be a mechanism that owners, general contractors, architects, and subcontractors can use to alter the scope officially. That mechanism is the change order, and it helps a project stay on course when the course itself changes.

This guide will help you understand what a change order is and how it works. You’ll also learn how you should be handling change orders to ensure the project continues smoothly from start to finish.

Download a printable copy of the ultimate guide to change orders in Construction

What is a change order?

A change order is an official document used to submit and approve changes on a construction project. They can be a result of a mistake, budgetary concerns, a change of heart or design, or an unforeseen and uncontrollable issue.

When a construction project begins, the owner signs a prime contract with the General Contractor. The General Contractor then signs contracts with subcontractors. All of these contracts contain the scope of work to be done, as well as the price of the project. These contracts start everyone off on an even keel and with a goal in mind.

Along the way, things change. Materials change, ideas evolve, designs scale back or grow, or an emergency pops up. For any number of reasons, the scope of the contract may have to change. As the scope of the contract changes, so should compensation.

This is where the change order comes into play.

Miniature Contracts

While a change order is actually a contract amendment, it’s helpful to think of them as miniature contracts. They essentially change the scope, schedule, or compensation of the original contract, replacing it with new details, timelines, and values.

The party requesting the change order needs to include the same type of information as the original contract, plus some extras. It will include the changes requested, the reason, and the price change.  It can also include other important information like changes in the timeline or issues it may cause. If there’s supporting information like materials quotes or pictures, the requesting party should submit them as well.

Once approved, the change order becomes the new contract for that aspect of the project.

Different Types of Change Orders and Their Uses

There are a few main types of change orders, and they have different uses throughout a project. The main types are internal and external change orders.

Internal Change Orders

Depending on how your firm runs your projects, transferring unused money from one budget line to another could require a change order. For example, if you shifted $5,000 from the permit budget line to the drywall budget line, an executive may need to approve that shift.

In order to propose that change, you need to create an internal budget transfer change order.

You can handle any other changes made to the project that does not cause or create revenue by creating an internal change order, as well. 

External Change Orders

External change orders are for changes involving the customer. Most frequently, these are adjustments to the budget, scope, and timeline that the customer has to approve. External change orders almost always cause or create revenue. 

If a material change occurs, or the project changes direction, you’ll create an external change order that documents the customer’s approval. This external change order will allow you to move forward under the new change in scope. 

Why are change orders important?

Change orders are incredibly important for the success of a construction project. They allow for flexibility, collaboration, and a fair deal for everyone involved.

Change Orders for Owners

Change orders allow owners to make changes to the plan as it progresses. While these changes are often frustrating for contractors, they allow the owner to achieve the exact project they were imagining at take off.

When a project jumps from plans on a page or computer screen to a piece of land, the owner gets their first chance to actually envision the project. They can walk the decks, see how the plan lays out the walls, windows, and doors, and get an idea of what the finished project may look like. 

They may not always like it, or something new may enter their mind. Or, maybe their budget changes. By creating a change order, they can alter the plan, discuss it with the contractor, and set a new course for completion. As long as the contractor agrees and the timeline works, everyone wins.

Change Orders for Contractors

Whether you’re a General Contractor or a sub, change orders are absolutely essential on a project. Everyone knows things come up and projects change, and a change order can help.

For instance, let’s look at material availability on a roofing project. When you signed the original contract, you specified that you’d use ABC roofing shingles for the project. But, when it was time to order your materials, only XYZ shingles were available. 

It’s cases like these where change orders are absolutely essential.

If the XYZ shingles are more expensive than ABC, your job cost forecast could go out the window. You’ll be working just as hard for less money, and the costs will eat into your profit and your bottom line. A change order can request approval for the changes, saving your profit on the project.

If XYZ shingles are less expensive, and you purchase them anyway without a change order, you’ll be in breach of contract. If the owner or General Contractor finds out, they could withhold your payment or take you to court. A change order will alter the contract officially, clearing you from any wrongdoing compared to the original contract.

What should a change order include?

Regardless of which side of the contract you’re on, a change order is a request to alter its scope. It’s an extremely important document and, as such, needs to include a lot of important information.

While some contracts may specify that you use a particular change order form, other contracts leave it up to the requesting party to create their own. If you’re creating your own document, here are the basics it needs to include. 

Project and Contact Information

First and foremost, your change order needs to include the basic information about the contract. This includes the names and addresses of the parties involved.

Aside from your own business name and address, you need to include the other parties. You want the owner’s name and contact information, as well as the prime contractor’s name and contact information in your change order. You also need to specify the project’s name and address, as well as the contract number.

 Be sure to include the change order number on the project as well. You may only be expecting one change order, but things happen. Keeping track of change orders and the order you submitted them in can be important.


When it comes to submitting change orders, dates can go a long way to protecting both owners and contractors in the event of a dispute. They can be the paper trail you need to ensure things go smoothly, so don’t leave them out. While the signature date does signify approval, it may not be enough.

You need to include the date that you completed the change order on the document. It will help you establish that you knew there was an issue or change on a specific date and were taking the appropriate steps towards a solution. 

You also need to include the date that you’re submitting the change order on, should it be different from the day you completed it. This can often be your signature date.

Also, if you discussed the change order previous to completing the document, you should include that date and the name of the person you spoke with in the supporting details. This date establishes a timeline for the project change, which can become important in a dispute. Most contracts require notice of changes within a specified timeframe, so including the date of the discussion in your change order is always a good idea.

The Changes

The changes are really the heart of the change order, so you obviously need to include them. Changes can occur for many reasons and can take many shapes. If they change the cost, timeline, or scope of work, you need to include it.

As an owner, this is your opportunity to be very specific about the project change. If you’re changing the flooring in a commercial building’s lobby, you should specify how you’re altering the agreement. If it’s a different material, a different layout, or a different pattern, be sure to include it in the change order so there is no room for errors and misinterpretation. 

Remember, contractors sign contracts based on plans. Change orders can come on the fly, with nothing but an idea to describe them. Be descriptive and detailed.

Contractors should also be very specific so there’s no room for confusion when payday arrives. If you’re switching materials, give exact units and product numbers. If you’re adjusting man-hours, again, be descriptive about it. 

Most importantly, if the general contractor (or owner, in some cases) requests a change from you, be sure to describe it in detail.

The Reasons

For a contractor, it’s important to explain the reason for the change order request. If you’re using the “miniature contract” mentality, a change order submission is like a bid. It needs to be compelling so it receives approval.

If there’s a change in material price or availability, be sure to state so. If the inspector was on the site and requested changes, make sure you mention that. If the General Contractor made a judgment call, be sure to include it. If a labor strike or force majeure scenario caused the changes, absolutely be sure it’s in the change order.

The Cost

If there’s a price change, which there usually is, include it in your change order. While this guide will not go into the act of pricing your change order, it will touch on the importance of its inclusion. 

Regardless of whether you’re an owner or a contractor, you need to include the difference in cost that the change order will cause. If the scope changes to include less work, the price will decrease. Include it so everyone is on the same page. If the materials are increasing the price, put it in the change order.

It’s best to include these increases in dollar amounts instead of percentages. Taking the guesswork out of the change order process will help speed up the approval.

Also, your price change needs to follow the format of the original contract so it’s easy to compare the two. Both owners and contractors will have an easier time understanding the changes and the costs involved when they can compare it to the old contract. 

Supporting Documentation

If you have any documents that support the need for the change order, be sure to include them with it. As a contractor, they can strengthen your case, and as an owner, they can clear up any confusion.

Supporting documents can include requests from inspection reports, pictures, price quotes, and any other number of other ways to prove the change’s necessity. If you have something that supports your request, make a copy and include it in the change order packet.


For a change order to be official, both parties need to sign it. Be sure to include room for two signatures (yours and the other parties) on the page with the materials, scope, and price change, if at all possible. There should be a signature line, a line for print, and also a line for the date.

Be sure to include a line directly above the signatures that states something along the lines of “This change order is approved to proceed.” This indicates that the signatures serve as approvals for the work to move forward under these new parameters.

How can I keep track of change orders?

Whether you’re an owner, general contractor, project manager, subcontractor, or clerical staff, keeping track of change orders can get confusing. You need to stay on top of what’s coming in, what’s received approval, the dates of submission, and the impact they’ll have on the project’s financials.

Hard Copy Systems Are Confusing

While it’s possible to create a hardcopy system for tracking your change orders, it can quickly become overwhelming for you or your clerical staff. Papers can go missing, people can be a challenge to get a hold of for signatures, and sorting through a large project’s worth of change orders can get confusing.

Adopting a Construction Software Project 

Adopting a construction software program that helps you and your staff automate the change order process can help avoid some costly errors. These programs can take a pile of loose papers and turn them into a spreadsheet that’s easy to read, track, and adjust as the project continues. They can track outstanding change orders and the dates they were submitted or received. These programs can generate internal change orders as well, allowing you to shift budgets and receive approvals instantly.

Instant Approvals and Automatic Updates

Possibly most important of all, adopting the right software will allow you to automate and streamline your approvals. Typically, change orders are first sent to project managers for approvals before sent to architects followed by the customer. Instead of going through the hassle of tracking down physical signatures on a hard copy, you can send a batch of proposals via email to be signed electronically. There are software that even allows for flexible workflows such as restricting who requires approval signatures by $ thresholds or a % of the budget. Once the customer reviews the proposals and signs them electronically, the software will automatically update the rest of the system. 

Streamlined change order approvals and signatures, and real-time system updates can make your project management team’s job much easier.

Change Order Reports

Keeping track of where money is going, and why it’s going there, can help you maintain transparency and profitability in your change order process. By locking the estimate, the software will require staff to create change orders anytime they shift a budget or transfer funds. It can help keep everyone honest and the project above board.

A change order report can also point out inefficiencies. If line items and funds are shifting back and forth constantly, you might be able to determine your weaknesses on the project. With the ability to filter and run by change order type and reason. The report might help set a better course on the next project with new personnel or practices. 

Month to Month Variance Reports

Keeping track of your change orders, approved or otherwise, is essential for effective management and forecasting as the project moves forward. With the right construction software, you can generate a variance report automatically, showing you what changed, how it changed, and was the change affected. 

A variance report is also an effective way to compare your project’s actual costs to its estimated costs. You’ll be able to keep a better track of the project’s bottom line and make adjustments to maintain profitability.

managing change orders in premier

Final Thoughts

For a project to reach a successful completion, some flexibility and cooperation along the way are almost always necessary. While legally binding contracts are rarely flexible, the change order process aims to keep things fluid, ensuring a desirable outcome for all parties involved.

While the process of completing a change order can be a bit confusing, or even nerve-wracking if it’s your first time, it’s a relatively straightforward principle: Here’s the change, here’s why, and here’s how much it’s going to change the price. 

By understanding how they work, why they’re so important, and how to keep them organized, you’ll be able to leverage the change order process in pursuit of a better project outcome for everyone on the contract.


About Premier Construction Software
Premier Construction Software is a true cloud, all-in-one accounting, job cost, project, document and drawing management solution designed to meet the needs of GCs, Developers, Design Build, and Homebuilders. Trusted by thousands of companies, Premier partners with forward thinking, progressive construction companies to provide a fully integrated solution for office and field staff operating on Mac, PC and any mobile device. Premier operates in North America as well as Australia, providing a true cloud solution that meets the needs of both markets today.


Author Biography:

Tom Scalisi has over 15 years of experience working in the trades. Since moving to full-time freelance writing, he has developed a passion for helping construction companies grow. He enjoys teaching contractors how technology can streamline their businesses and educating them about their rights during payment disputes.