Submittals in construction: Most important step before entering the construction industry

Last Updated on September 19, 2022 by Admin

It’s more crucial than ever to keep on your game in this new era of connected construction. If you are even slightly late or over budget, you risk falling behind rivals or being permanently out of step with emerging technological advancements. The management of construction submittals, which affect the accuracy of project completion, the success of the intended timeline, and budget line items, is one of the most crucial components of any contractor’s job before construction begins.


Handling construction submittals is one of the key responsibilities of a contractor. It’s critical to comprehend what this term means and why it matters to your work, projects, and life if you want your construction company to stand out from the competition. Any construction project needs submittals because they keep everyone informed and on the same page. This manual will explain the submittals procedure and provide examples to help contractors understand what to anticipate.

What is a construction submittal?

A submission is a written or physical document that a responsible contractor (including subcontractors and contractors) provides to the general contractor. Before the equipment, materials, etc., are fabricated and delivered to the project, this information is sent to the design team for approval. The submittals process begins in the early stages of the project and aids in determining how the project will be carried out.


Plans and specifications are the foundation of any project; hence they are essential. Subcontractors must specify what materials and more they will utilize based on the submitted drawings. The project manager or construction manager adds these to the Project Manual. Project managers use the submittals to make sure contractors use the right amounts in a project in accordance with the project and design documents.

There are many ways to offer submittals, including shop drawings, cut sheets for equipment, and material samples. To ensure that the project will be completed in accordance with the design papers and contract terms, submittals are primarily needed for the architect and engineer. Construction project submissions are crucial because they give all stakeholders a clear understanding of the project’s objectives. Creating well-thought-out submittals can assist avoid or minimize change orders later on in the project, which is always a good thing.

What is included in submittals?

A built asset may be subject to submittals during the preconstruction, construction, and maintenance phases. Subcontractors and suppliers often give the primary contractor information for submittals, which the main contractor subsequently presents to the intended receiver (whether that be the designer, architect, engineer or some other person tasked with granting approvals). This procedure’s goal is to guarantee that the project receives the products (and quantities of items) that have been appropriately defined.


The organization is the key to successfully managing a construction project. A submittal log is required since the submittal procedure involves a lot of papers. The submittal log is a document that attests to the design team’s approval of each item included. Every piece of machinery, type of material, and even minute details like the precise color of paint must all be examined and approved via submittals before the building can start. Construction submittals might include thousands of distinct components, depending on the specific project.

A good submittal includes the following items:

  • Specifications of where a particular requirement came from
  • Title with a short description of the request
  • Type of submittal
  • Level of priority
  • Contractor responsible
  • Approving party
  • Shop drawings that lay out the dimensions of prefabricated products such as trusses, cast concrete, windows, appliances, millwork, and more
  • Color and finish selections
  • Color charts
  • Finished product components
  • Material data
  • Samples

What are common types of submittals?

Construction submittals come in a variety of forms. Shop drawings, material data, and product samples are the most typical, as was previously stated. The type of submittal you use will depend on the information it contains and the nature of your project.

Shop drawings

These are the most typical kinds of submissions. According to our definition, shop drawings are schedules or drawings created by the contractor to depict a specific aspect of the work. Shop drawings differ from those created during the design process in depicting how building components would appear while being constructed. Shop drawings don’t count as contract papers; thus, they don’t necessitate changing the original design drawings to match the shop drawings. Dimensions, quantities, and design details are included in the shop drawings.

Product samples

These are examples of the supplies the builders will employ during building. They consist of bricks, concrete, and other types of soil. Giving samples enables the project team to evaluate its aesthetic decisions. The construction of tiny walls or other building components as mockups by a contractor to demonstrate how windows, doors, and cladding will fit together is another model. When discussing the viability of a design proposal, these mockups are crucial. Product samples simplify evaluating a contractor’s creativity and provide a starting point for assessing the finished works. The samples are kept on-site and utilized for comparison once the project designers accept material sample submissions to ensure the materials brought in to match the samples.

Material data

This refers to material-specific facts, including sizes, models, quantities, finishes, warranty information, and so forth. When examining the compliance requirements, this information is crucial. The majority of material data submissions are made for government projects.


Construction Submittal Process

Depending on how the task is structured and the key stakeholders, there are various paths that the process for approving submittals can take. Depending on how many parties need to approve the materials, goods, and specifications, the submission process can be either extraordinarily straightforward or relatively difficult. Here are some phases that the submission process often takes:


A project’s pre-construction stage is equally as crucial to the submittal procedure as any other stage. The pre-construction conference brings everyone together to discuss the project and offers everyone an opportunity to ask questions. Because it guarantees that everyone is familiar with the criteria, the submittal procedure can and needs to be discussed during this conference. Overall, it reduces the likelihood of delays and errors while giving everyone helpful information.


Setting a submitting timetable is crucial. Because there are only so many hours in the day for the architect or engineer to ensure that the materials used for the project will be stable, the timeline will aid in keeping the project on track. Additionally, since not all submittals must be finished before construction begins, this lets them spread out their time. They don’t want to accept submissions based just on who arrives first. And if the architect or engineer doesn’t like the materials, it gives them time to either submit with new materials or go out and buy the items.

Submittals Preparation

Subcontractors should start their submittal procedure as soon as the schedule is established. They need to obtain the required paperwork and, in some cases, even sample materials before they can begin the process. It will be fairly easy for some things, like receiving color approval. While in other places, the approval procedure could be different. Regardless, everyone is expected to turn in the paperwork that was discussed at the pre-construction meeting.


The review procedure will be carried out on the side of the architect or engineer. To ascertain the impact of the item on the project, they will review the materials list and all pertinent supporting paperwork. This will avoid problems in the future, protect the building’s structural integrity, and eliminate the need for rework. Once the submittal has been authorized or rejected, the subcontractor can either resubmit with new materials or start working.

How to write a submittal?

A check and balance method is used throughout the construction submittal process to ensure everyone is on the same page. Its goal is to guarantee that the pertinent stakeholders are informed accurately about the information contained in the contract documents. At each level, submissions can be approved, rejected, or approved with modifications.

The design teams prepare the technical requirements of the tools and materials required for the project at various points before breaking ground. When preparing submittals, the architect, engineer, and contractor must get together and set certain ground principles. These consist of:

  • Elements that need submissions
  • Submission delivery deadlines
  • Techniques for submitting a submission
  • The evaluation procedure and evaluation deadlines
  • Communications pathways

Establishing appropriate protocols ensures everyone is aware of their responsibilities and knows what to expect, keeping everyone on track.

To prevent potential delays when composing the submittal, you should adequately verify it twice. Follow the schedule to keep the project on course. Since the submittals involve multiple papers, sending everything as a single package is recommended. To keep track of the items you must include in your submittal, you need a submittal log. An effective submission should include the following:

  • Title: This should be the name of the submission. It must to include a succinct explanation of the submittal request.
  • Submittal type: This describes the nature of the information being sought.
  • The contractor accountable: Identity who is responsible for delivering information in your submittal.
  • The submittal manager: He / She should be identified. This person is responsible for submitting the item and giving the information their approval.
  • Submission reviewer: The submittal must also identify the person scrutinizing the data.
  • Required dates: Specific dates should be provided, such as the submittal deadline and the reviewer approval deadline.


Tips to improve submittals

What can you do to streamline and enhance the submittal process now that you are aware of it? Sometimes it looks like the submittal process’ workflow is frustrating. Even so, you can make it better by cutting down on submittal errors, making the required data and documentation accessible, and utilizing enhanced tracking. Here are some pointers you can use to make your submissions better.

Using automated submittal logs

The specification criteria for construction projects may include thousands of elements that must be included into the submittal record. The likelihood of errors rises when submittal logs are manually entered. By employing automated submittal logs to generate records in spreadsheet format that can be downloaded and contain all the information required for the register, errors can be avoided. This significantly cuts down on errors and saves time.

Information access

The submitting information should be kept secure and secret. Producing data, reviewing submissions, and receiving approvals involve numerous persons. Even if it is crucial to incorporate many of outside parties, private information should be kept secret. As a result, you should use technology that enables access to and control over submissions from both members and non-members. There is no need to include external participants in the project because they can assess submissions via email. Therefore, it is important to maintain the privacy of information like private sheets and notes.

Add filters to submittals

Due to the volume of data that must be filtered, it is simple for some information to elude detection in submittals. But you may filter your list and limit it to the things you really need thanks to technology. Due dates, reviewers, types of submittals, specifications, and the priority of the submittal are just a few examples of the various categories you might use for filters.

Use email notifications

The submission process takes a while from the application to the approval stage. There are many stakeholders involved. Thus, you should not squander additional time building a proper tracking system for your project team. You might take advantage of project management software programs that email approval alerts. Receiving early notifications of such alerts enhances accountability and transparency and encourages quicker action.

Centralize your submittal markups

Documents submitted for review are renamed, reordered, and marked up by the project requirements as they pass through various parties. However, if the project team lacks the necessary tools, they may have to jump through hoops and eventually resort to manual processes. Users can annotate submissions using centralized markup systems without downloading, revising, and re-uploading them to the system.

Allow for multiple reviewers at a time

Submissions rarely require clearance from a single source. Waiting for independent consent from each party before moving forward would be ineffective, given the number of parties involved. A submittal’s efficiency is increased, and the possibility of delays is decreased by allowing several reviewers to assess it. Multiple reviewers can be added as co-reviewers using project management software by various parties. By doing this, the project team’s accountability and transparency are improved. It is simpler for the team to recognize errors and decide whether to take corrective action.

Keep the team updated

The project team must know the submittal items and the members that submit and review submittals. To ensure all the information provided is accurate, they must be informed anytime a submittal is produced, reviewed, or published. These additional parties include suppliers, subcontractors, designers, and additional client representatives.

Create custom submittal reports.

For projects to stay on schedule, prompt approval of submittals is essential. Project managers regularly request submittal reports to ensure that projects are on schedule. These reports must have a polished appearance. Implementing project management tools can assist you in producing thorough, personalized reports that can be quickly distributed to interested parties.

What is the submittal approval process?

Various routes might be taken for submittal clearances. Here are several workflows a submitter might adhere to streamline the approval procedure:

  • The subcontractor submits work to the general contractor, who then reviews it and sends it to the architect for evaluation. The architect then sends it back to the general contractor, who then gives it to the subcontractor, who starts working.
  • The subcontractor submits work to the general contractor, who reviews it and sends it to the engineer, who then reviews it and sends it back to the architect, who then reviews it and sends it back to the general contractor, who then gives it to the subcontractor, who then starts working.
  • The subcontractor submits to the general contractor, the general contractor reviews and sends to the construction manager, the construction manager reviews and sends to the engineer, the engineer reviews and sends to the architect, the architect sends changes back to the construction manager, the construction manager reviews again and sends to the general contractor. The general contractor then provides to the subcontractor, who then starts working.
  • The subcontractor submits to the general contractor, the general contractor reviews and sends to the construction manager, the construction manager reviews and sends to the engineer, the engineer reviews and sends to the architect; the architect sends changes back to the construction manager, the construction manager reviews again, the construction manager sends to the owner or client, the owner or client reviews and sends back to the client. The general contractor provides to the subcontractor who then starts working.

What are the benefits of submittals?

Construction submittals are essential because they enable the evaluation of a project’s finer aspects. It makes it possible for the project team to approve purchases of tools and supplies quickly. Submittals must be completed before the delivery of materials or equipment. If contractors don’t present their work on time, it could be difficult to make up for the unneeded delays on schedule and within budget.

Additionally, submissions are essential because they set the project’s timeframe and budget. A thorough submission increases the likelihood of a project’s success. Construction submittals require the correct and well-organized submission of many different papers. Errors during the submittal procedure could compromise the entire project.

The completion of a project in accordance with the design requirements makes it safe for habitation and for use as intended. A project could suffer greatly if the submittal process is not followed.

Final Thought

The hazards associated with building projects that arise from incomplete or incorrect information can be reduced with the help of modernizing submittal workflows. With so many different factors and unique participants, it only takes one document error to cause expensive mistakes and project delays.

You can expect a process that is effectively routed and consistently offers increased productivity if you adopt digital project management and move your submittals to an automated solution.

To maintain accountability and keep everyone on the building site informed, submittals are used to demonstrate agreement. Each partner must sign off confirming that they have read, understood, and agreed to the start of a particular task.

Various options streamline the process and save time and resources, unlike the manual systems they had previously employed for preparing and tracking submittals. Everyone involved takes the task seriously and keeps the project going when everyone on the project team is aware of the procedure.

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