Construction Submittals Form Guide

Submittals are a key component of any major construction project. Product and materials data, shop drawings, and samples ensure that everyone is on the same page before beginning a build.

However, sometimes submittals become snagged in the logging and approval process, holding a project up.

Common Issues With Submittals

The submittals process involves multiple parties and documents. Additionally, it isn’t uncommon for a project to require hundreds or even thousands of submittal forms.

Understandably, all of those moving parts create many opportunities for things to get stuck. These include:

Lack of Approval Clarity

Your submittal was ‘reviewed’, but was it approved? The difference between these two statuses is extremely important when it comes to risk and liability. Projects can and do get held up when submittal reviewers don’t clearly communicate that a submittal is approved and work can begin.

Partial Approval of Packages

When large submittal packages are only partially approved, tracking which parts are approved and which aren’t can be a nightmare. This only gets more difficult once some parts of a package get revised and resubmitted.

Submittal…or Substitution?

Material and supply chain shortages have pushed many contractors to use submittals as stand-ins for substitution requests. In this case, the issue of ‘reviewed vs. approved’ comes up again: is the substitution approved or not?

In order to reduce these issues, contractors, architects, engineers, and other stakeholders must agree on a crystal-clear submittals process during pre-construction. This process should include detailed submittals, a submittal schedule, and a well-organized submittal tracking system.

How Detailed Should a Submittal Be?

Short answer: fairly detailed.

Depending on the size of a project, writing submittals can feel more like writing a book. If you find yourself wondering whether you’re overthinking things, it can help to use a construction submittals template.

A construction submittals template helps break down the necessary details. It will include spaces for things like:

  • Project ID & name.
  • Originator.
  • Item & transmittal numbers.
  • Item descriptions.
  • Spec section number.
  • Quantities.
  • Priority.
  • Submittal manager.
  • Reviewer signature.
  • Distribution information.
  • Procurement information.

Ultimately, every piece of equipment and material must be approved through the construction submittal process before building begins. This also goes for details like product cut sheets, technical information, and production specs.

Punchlist form template

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Streamlining the Submittals Process

Between rejected submittals, resubmissions, and the multiple parties involved, the construction submittals process is often messy. It can be difficult to track where submittals are and what’s holding them up.

With a little cooperation and intention, however, it is possible to streamline this process. For example, pre-construction is an excellent time to:

  1. Establish a process. Meet with the architect, owner, and engineer to agree on a submittals process. Use this agreed-upon process throughout the project.
  2. Draft a submittal schedule. As the contractor, it’s up to you to provide a reasonable timetable for project phases before work begins. Create a submittal schedule to keep things on track and give the architect and engineer time to check the project and materials at each stage.
  3. Prepare submittals. Gather the documents, drawings, samples, and other information needed to send your submittals. You may need the input of subcontractors at this stage. 

Failing to establish a process is a common mistake. Without an agreed-upon process, submittals can get lost in transmission and suffer from serious delays.

There are a few things you can insist on to ensure your construction submittal process is as streamlined as possible:

Ensure Visibility

A smooth submittals process is all about visibility. All parties should easily be able to see submittals, approvals, rejections, and where each form is in its journey. Ideally, changes in submittal status are instantly communicated to the relevant stakeholders so the project never gets held up due to paperwork.

Maintain Security

While visibility is important, it’s also essential to balance it with security. Construction documentation often includes sensitive information about a project and/or its stakeholders. As you create a process that allows stakeholders to see the information they need, also be sure that it is secure against outside threats.

Stay Organized

Keeping track of the different types of submittals, who they’ve been sent to, and their various attachments is a nightmare without a great organizing system in place. If someone can’t find the drawing, sample, or product data they need, the process falls apart. Your organization system should be clean and error-free, so that anyone can easily search for exactly what they need.


If you want to reduce work and human error, automation is the way to go. These days, you can automate everything from construction submittal log creation to tracking and notifications. Construction submittal software automatically scans specs, generates digital submittals, and moves them through a workflow of approvals.

Construction Submittal Software Makes Forms Easy

Too often, contractors rely on spreadsheets or email (or worse, paper) to submit and track their submittals. The trouble with these methods quickly becomes obvious. Forms may sit unnoticed for days before someone realizes they’ve been submitted, and may even be intercepted by outsiders.

Additionally, if human error leads to the wrong field dimensions or quantity entered on a line item, that submittal process may have to start all over again.

Construction submittal software takes these issues completely out of the equation. By scanning project documents and automatically generating, securing, sending, and tracking submittals, platforms like DADO make contractors’ lives – and jobs – much easier.

What’s more, with mobile-enabled document software everyone on a project has access to submittals and their status right on their phone. Even if they’re away from their desk, each stakeholder can receive notifications, check submittal status, and work off the most up-to-date documentation.

Submittals are an important factor in project success. They ensure accuracy, timeline adherence, and the line item budget. Use construction software like DADO to reduce submittal headaches and make sure you get the details right, every time.

Streamline your processes with smart submittals

Ditch the spreadsheets – and the headaches – with smart submittals forms. See how DADO can help.