Ultimate Guide

Ultimate Guide to Submittals

Just as every trade feels they’re the most important and essential part of constructing a building, every phase of the project planning process feels like the most critical. When it comes to submittals, however, they truly are near the top of the importance ladder.

The submittal process is an opportunity for everyone on a project to get on the same page, which rarely happens throughout the life of a project. By establishing an efficient submittal management process, a project can go off with fewer hitches, better communication, and better collaboration.

What is a submittal?

A submittal is a document sent from the subcontractors in the field to the design personnel on a project. Their function is to verify that everyone is on the same page in regard to nearly every material, finish, and fixture on a project.

When an architect, engineer, or designer creates a set of plans, they specify (to the best of their ability) every material on the project. When the subcontractors finally receive and review the plans, they do their best to decipher exactly which materials the plans call for. To ensure that they’re on point, they send a submittal package to the design professional. This package includes all of the materials they believe match the specs the best.

The design professional or firm then reviews all of the submittals, ensuring that every material is consistent with the drawings. They’ll verify everything from steel beams to paint and carpet colors.

A Submittal Example

Let’s say an architect creates a set of plans to build an office building. He’ll specify every aspect of the project, from the steel beams to the carpets.

The subcontractor responsible for ordering the doors, flooring, and other finishing materials for our office building will need to create several submittals to ensure they’re using the right products. In the case of the doors, they’ll contact a supplier for a product information sheet for doors that match the ones specified on the plans. The subcontractor will submit this information sheet to the general contractor, who will then submit it to the designer for approval.

When the subcontractor sends several submittals for approval, they’ll usually bundle them up and submit them at once. This is a submittal package.

Types of Submittals

With the thousands of potential submittals possible on a construction project, it makes sense that there would be at least a handful of different types. It’s essential to understand each and how they work.

Shop Drawings

Obviously, you can’t just order every material on a construction project off of a shelf in a warehouse somewhere. Often, a fabricator needs to create a fixture, structural component, or other items from scratch in their shop.

To ensure that the fabricator’s proposed product will meet the design pro’s specifications, they’ll send a submittal with their shop drawings. These submittals often include details such as dimensions, materials, and qualities.

Material Data

Many times, an engineer or architect will be very specific about the materials they’ve included with their drawing. In public projects, the engineer may specify two or three products in the name of healthy competition. Even in these hyper-specific scenarios, there can still be a bit of gray area.

To help keep the gray area from throwing the project off schedule, over budget, or out of spec, a contractor will send a submittal with the materials they believe they are to use. As you can imagine, a submittal for every material can become overwhelming, but it’s important to ensure a safe and successful project.

Product Samples

When it comes to finishes and aesthetics, sometimes the only way to ensure the finished product meets the designer’s vision is with samples. Contractors can use sample submittals for anything from paint colors, carpets, floor tiles, moldings, hardware, or other details throughout the project.

What to Include in a Submittal

A submittal package can be full of supporting documents, images, specs, drawings, and other important information. Knowing what to include or expect in a submittal can streamline the process.

In general, submittals should include:

  • The subcontractor’s business name and contact info.
  • The contact name and info of the design professional or contractor who needs to review the submittal.
  • Any drawing reference numbers for the engineer to follow.
  • Product information directly from the manufacturer that outlines the specifications, model numbers, dimensions, capacities, and other important information.
  • Extremely detailed shop drawings. They should include the specifications of all the materials used in the construction of prefabricated items, particularly when it comes to structural components.
  • Color, texture, and finish selections available for a product, material, or surface specified in the plans.
  • Samples, pictures of mock-ups, or any other supporting information that will help the designer make a decision.

While submittal packages, spec sheets, and shop drawings can be overwhelming, the actual submittals don’t have to be complicated. They should include all of the information that will help the designer make a decision and respond quickly.

The Submittal Creation and Review Process

In a perfect world, a submittal would go from the subcontractor to the designer, and then from the designer back to the subcontractor with an approval. However, submittals can make many, many more stops along the way.

When a subcontractor creates a submittal, they have to start with the product manufacturer or fabrication shop. With the help of this supplier, they’re able to put their submittal or submittal package together.

The submittal then goes to the general contractor for review and approval. Potentially, the general contractor could deny the submittal if it’s clearly missing the mark from what the drawing specified. If the general contractor approves, they will then send the submittal up the chain to the architect for approval.

The architect will then review and approve or deny the submittal based on their point of view. The next stop for the submittal could be an engineer or design consultant, or potentially the owner. Once everyone on the chain signs off on the submittal, the material, finish, or product is okay for use on the project.

Commons Problems with Submittals

While the overarching goal of a submittal is to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project can go off smoothly, they aren’t perfect. There are some common issues with the submittal process, and understanding them can help you avoid them or minimize their effect on the project.

Paper Dimensions vs. Actual Dimensions

For all of the effort that architects, engineers, and designers put in trying to put the perfect roadmap together, construction projects often vary at least slightly from the plans. While the industry as a whole does allow for changes and variations with change orders or RFIs, certain phases of a project need the actual dimensions in the field.

Signing off on a submittal for a custom-fabricated material without knowing if it will actually work in the field is a problem. Plans and drawings are great for getting the project rolling, but there are times when a sub needs to be at the site to create an accurate submittal.

Delays in the Chain

One of the biggest issues with the submittal process is delays in the chain. A subcontractor can create and supply a submittal on time and with the best intentions, but a few days here and there on various decision-makers’ desks can throw off a timeline. Because there are so many stops along the way, it can be difficult to tell where the submittal package is at any given time.

Poor Organization and Tracking

Just about every part and component involved in the construction of a building requires a submittal to ensure it meets with the designer’s or architect’s specifications. With so many submittals on any single project, keeping track of them all can be a full-time job.

Delays due to poor organization can rock the timeline even more severely than a submittal sitting on a decision maker’s desk for too long. When submittals fall victim to poor management, contractors and designers have to make snap decisions that might not pan out as planned. Worse yet, the project could be at a standstill over a submittal lost in the shuffle.

Streamlining the Submittal Process

The submittal process isn’t fun for anyone involved. As a subcontractor, putting together a complete submittal takes a lot of time and work, and mistakes along the way can be a real issue. As a project manager or prime contractor, managing all of the submittals from every specialty contractor can be a headache. Misplacing just one of those submittals can throw off the entire project.

Even just ensuring that you have all the submittals from all the subs that need to submit them is tough.

Streamlining the submittal process can make a significant impact on the project’s workflow. The best way to simplify the process is to rely on a software program to help you submit, forward, and track submittals automatically.

Preparing Submittals with Premier Construction Software

Preparing a huge binder full of photocopies and product data sheets is time-consuming. Instead of printing, photocopying, and punching holes in all of your submittal documents, create your submittals with Premier Construction Software.

Premier Construction Software allows you to upload all of the important documents and pictures that your submittal will require. This can save a lot of time, paper, and frustration over the course of developing a submittal package. Once you create all of your submittals, Premier will keep track of them on its cloud-based document management system. Using this will allow anyone with permission to access these documents.

The ease of creating a submittal and the cloud-based access will allow several parties to work on a submittal package together, speeding up the process and promoting teamwork.

Create and track construction submittals with Premier Construction Software

Sending Submittals with Premier Construction Software

Even more archaic than building a physical submittal package is actually mailing or delivering one.

Sending submittals has never been easier than it is with Premier Construction Software. Once prepared, you can send a submittal, or several, to multiple contacts instantly through email. Each contact will have access to the drawings, datasheets, and whatever other documents or images you attached to the submittal.

You’ll now know who has the submittal and when they received it, taking the guesswork out of tracking your submittal package across several desks or offices.

Approvals and Denials

Getting or giving a response for a submittal doesn’t have to drag down the project with construction software like Premier Construction Software. Submittals can receive responses in real-time, allowing the project to move forward quicker than standard paper-based submittal packages.

Decision-makers are able to annotate, approve or deny a submittal electronically, giving feedback or conditions as they apply to the submittal.

Tracking Submittals with Premier Construction Software

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of submittals is tracking and organizing them to ensure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Traditionally, tracking these documents required administrative staff to manually input each submittal into a long spreadsheet. It’s a long and tedious process. It’s also the perfect breeding ground for human error. Premier Construction Software can help with that, as well.

Instead of creating and maintaining your own submittal log, Premier does it automatically. When you send or receive a submittal with Premier Construction Software, that submittal becomes accessible through the cloud-based document database. You’ll be able to track each submittal and its status easily from anywhere with internet access. Premier provides a complete history of each submittal as well, so you can stay up-to-date with any changes or updates.

By utilizing the document management system in Premier, you’ll be able to search for any submittal (or other important documents) on the project for any information you might need.

Submittal management is key to the success of your project.

Whether you’re a subcontractor, general contractor, or design professional, proper submittal management should be a priority for your project. Submittals with the proper information, timely responses, and open communication allow a more collaborative approach to a project. They also ensure the project goes as smoothly as possible.

For more information on how you can manage your submittals with Premier Construction Software, you can schedule a personalized product demonstration here.

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

6 Ways to Streamline Your Construction Submittals Review Process

The submittals process creates the foundation and defines the workflow for any construction project; therefore, effectively managing the process is fundamental to finishing projects on time, within budget and to specification. Before a project can begin, submittals must be created by the general contractor for every component of the project and sent to the architects and engineers for review and approval. If any submittal is denied or rejected, revisions need to be made and it must be resubmitted to the appropriate parties for another round of review and approvals. Once every submittal is approved, fabrication and construction can begin.

The submittals review and approval process has several key goals. First, it ensures the safety of the structure, as well as the people involved in the construction and future occupants. Second, it serves as the contractor’s proof of compliance with the construction documents and adherence to design concept and quality of materials used. Third, it outlines the approval workflow and illustrates how portions of the project will be carried out to improve efficiency and mitigate delays. 

Depending on the size of the project, the submittals process can involve thousands of detailed documents, all of which need to be distributed, reviewed and approved by members of the project team. Additionally, all the project documents must be saved and stored somewhere. In the past, all of this needed to be managed manually in programs like Excel, which created a lot of room for human error and often resulted in costly mistakes or compromising the project altogether. 

Moreover, when using the manual system, physical copies of every submittal—including comments, notes, revisions, and approvals—have to be printed, distributed to multiple parties, and stored for reference and record-keeping. Printing multiple rounds of revisions not only costs a fortune but manually maintaining thousands of pages of construction documents is laborious and also requires physical office space for storage.

Fortunately, today there is construction management software that can help you streamline the submittals review process by improving upon three key pillars: administrative work, visibility, and tracking. Below are six ways you can leverage technology to your advantage:

1. Eliminating paper trails

Because submittals outline all of the project details, they are critical documents, but traditionally cumbersome. Leveraging a cloud-based solution means general contractors don’t need to physically manage and store stacks of documents, and project members can access the documents they need with just a few clicks instead of waiting around or sifting through pages of revisions to make sure they’re working from the most up-to-date version. Going paperless not only speeds up the review process, but it also saves money on printing costs.   

2. Accessibility on any device

One of the greatest benefits to a cloud-based solution means any team member can access up-to-date project information whenever, and wherever they need it. Whether it’s on the job site, from home, or while traveling, accessibility is fundamental to project oversight and management and allows for informed, rapid decision-making when needed.

Create and track construction submittals with Premier Construction Software

3. Keeping project documents safe & secure

Construction submittals are very detailed documents that require input and feedback from multiple parties. While external stakeholders will need access to some project information, it’s also important to keep sensitive project information private, secure and limited to necessary parties. Utilizing a comprehensive software allows you save pertinent documents in a centralized location, while also allowing you to choose who gets to see what. 

4. Centralizing markups

Every submittal requires that multiple people review and approve it, which also entails a number of revisions and markups. Without having submittals in centralized location, team members may have to toggle between multiple platforms, wasting valuable time. Using construction management software allows project members to add stamps, boxes, comments—all of which can easily be viewed by page on the same screen. 

5. Updating workflow information in real-time

Manually managing submittals and sending them back-and-forth between multiple parties is a tiresome process. Using a management software that creates a direct link between parties and shows revisions and markups in real-time shortens the review process considerably. This also saves money and resources that would otherwise be spent manually printing and routing revised drafts and corrected versions to multiple team members. 

6. Custom reporting

Ensuring submittals are routed and approved on time is critical to keeping a project on schedule. Management software allows you to create custom dashboards with detailed reporting options so you can set and assign due dates, track responses and overdue items, view full version history and more. This means the project leaders can always keep a pulse on what’s happening, and easily create status reports to share with the rest of the team or external stakeholders.

These are just some of the many ways technology can be used to streamline the complexities of the submittals review process. To learn additional ways our all-in-one, cloud-based solution can help keep your projects moving along with greater accuracy and higher efficiency, click here to schedule a personalized product tour. 


Author Biography:

Kathryn Dressler is a content strategist with more than 10 years of experience across the spectrum of marketing services, including blogging, social media, public relations, copywriting and editorial services.

Tips & Advice

How to Successfully Manage Construction Submittals

In last week’s blog, we defined what construction submittals are and discussed why they’re important. This week, we’re going to talk about the submittals process and why it’s important to leverage technology to more successfully manage the workflow. 

Recap: What Are Construction Submittals?

Construction submittals come in various forms—for example, shop drawings, material data, color charts, product cut sheets, samples, etc.—and are critical documents that lay the foundation for any construction project. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, submittals could end up being thousands of pages long. 

The Submittals Process

Submittals tend to follow a four-part process to ensure the accountability of all participants in the project, to mitigate inefficiencies and to reduce the likelihood of errors.

Pre-construction Phase:

Sometimes referred to as the pre-submittal meeting, conference, or submittals meeting, this phase brings together the general contractor, architect and engineer to clarify and define what the submittals process will be. This includes everything from setting deadlines for delivery and review to determining how the documents will be routed. The main goal of this meeting is to make sure all the project participants understand the approval workflow and to establish the lines of communication.


Schedule Development:

Preparing submittals is the responsibility of the contractor, but the architects and engineers lay the foundation by identifying the types of submittals and required technical specifications. Once the contractor has the plans, they prepare a schedule that lists all the items each submittal needs, along with a timeline. The schedule needs to be coordinated with the building schedule to ensure there’s enough time for the architect to review and request changes, if necessary, without delaying construction. 


Submittal Preparation:

Once the schedule is set, the general contractor will prepare the submittals (or outsource this step to a subcontractor). The project will determine what type of submittal documents are required. In this step, the preparer should call out and explain any deviation from the construction documents. If a subcontractor prepares the submittals, they will go back to the general contractor for review and approval.

Submittal Review:

After the general contractor has given their stamp of approval, the submittal is sent to the architect. The design team must ensure the materials selected are in compliance with the requirements stipulated in the construction documents, and that the use and performance needs of the design are fulfilled.


The designer who worked on the project may make comments or request changes. Once they give approval, the submittal is sent to the supervising architect or engineer. Every person must review and check the submittal to ensure its compliance with construction documents before giving their sign off.  


All project documents must be reviewed in the order indicated by the approval workflow, which gets outlined during the pre-construction phase. Once all the submittal documents have the necessary approvals, they are returned to the general contractor.

Leverage Technology to Streamline Complex Processes 

Submittals feature in Premier Construction Software

With today’s construction projects being more complex than ever, submittals may be extremely long, detailed documents that require dedicated project teams to assess the myriad of requirements. Because submittals are like the building blocks of a project, it’s crucial to ensure they’re managed appropriately—not only to ensure project success, but to mitigate risk and liability. 


As you can imagine, overseeing the submittals process and tracking required approvals without using construction management software can be a nightmare and is ripe for error and inaccuracies. To help you more successfully navigate the process and create a fluid workflow, we’re excited to announce the rollout of our new submittals feature. 

Create and track construction submittals with Premier Construction Software

Launching in October, our new feature will offer the following benefits: 

  • Create & Email Submittal Link to Multiple Parties
  • Live Collaboration with Any Third Party – No Extra Fee
  • Construction Specific Annotation Tool Bar – Add Stamps, Boxes, Comments etc.
  • Accessible on Any Device
  • Merge Multiple Files Together, Sort & Regroup
  • Track Responses, Due Dates, Version Control & Full History
  • Easily View All Submittals History
  • Customize Workflow Configuration
  • Ability to Revise & Resubmit
  • View & Share Historical Responses
  • Automate New Requests for Revisions
  • Set Due Dates & Track Overdue Items
  • Easily View Comments by Page on the Same Screen
  • Auto-Stores in Document Management


For more information, or to schedule a personalized product tour, click here.


Author Biography:

Kathryn Dressler is a content strategist with more than 10 years of experience across the spectrum of marketing services, including blogging, social media, public relations, copywriting and editorial services.

Industry Insight Resources

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

Construction management software is transforming the industry landscape and changing the way everyday tasks are handled by automating complex processes and creating a more efficient approach to project management. In this blog, we’ll discuss how our software can help you more effectively manage the submittals process, one of the most fundamental components to a successful project. 

What are construction submittals? 

Construction submittals are critical documents that can come in various forms and consist of multiple elements—for example, shop drawings, material data, color charts, product cut sheets, samples, and finished product components. Depending on the project, construction submittals can involve thousands of different items.


Before any construction actually begins, all of the equipment, materials, and specific details of the project are outlined in submittals and given to the architect and engineer for review and approval. Submittals allow the design professionals to review project details on a granular level, and to provide approval before any items are fabricated or delivered. This helps mitigate any unnecessary setbacks to the timeline or budget. The quality of submittals is extremely important as the level of detail and accuracy will directly impact the overall success of the project.

How does the submittals process work?

The submittals process begins early in the project phases and guides project execution, cost, quality and success. 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” is to submit technical specifications to the architect and engineer for approval as required by the contract documents. 


Once received, the architects and engineers use the information provided in the submittals to verify the quantity of materials and products needed to complete a project. The submittals process also gives design architects the opportunity to select colors, patterns and types of material that were not decided upon prior to the completion of construction drawings. It’s important to note, however, this is not an opportunity for the architect to select different materials than what was agreed upon—rather, it’s 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 which signifies they’re approved for construction or fabrication. 

How can we help? Premier Construction Software Submittals Feature with the annotational tool bar

Submittals are extremely 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 most important duties of the project manager or contractor; however, the submittals process has traditionally been considered long and arduous given the amount of detailed data and specifications required for every facet of a project. 


In the past, the submittals process required tedious and time-intensive manual data entry into programs like Excel, creating room for human error and inaccuracies. Construction management software automates this complex process and dramatically improves data accuracy, document management and sharing, team communication and collaboration, and more—all of which ends up saving you valuable time and money and contributing to project success. 

Create and track construction submittals with Premier Construction Software

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be launching a new submittals feature in October in order to help you with the following: 

  • Create & Email Submittal Link to Multiple Parties
  • Live Collaboration with Any Third Party – No Extra Fee
  • Construction Specific Annotation Tool Bar – Add Stamps, Boxes, Comments etc.
  • Accessible on Any Device
  • Merge Multiple Files Together, Sort & Regroup
  • Track Responses, Due Dates, Version Control & Full History
  • Easily View All Submittals History
  • Customize Workflow Configuration
  • Ability to Revise & Resubmit
  • View & Share Historical Responses
  • Automate New Requests for Revisions
  • Set Due Dates & Track Overdue Items
  • Easily View Comments by Page on the Same Screen
  • Auto-Stores in Document Management


For more information about our new submittals feature, or to schedule a personalized product tour, click here.


Author Biography:

Kathryn Dressler is a content strategist with more than 10 years of experience across the spectrum of marketing services, including blogging, social media, public relations, copywriting and editorial services.