Transmittals and Submittals in Construction: What is the difference?

Transmittals and Submittals in Construction: What is the difference?

Transmittals and submittals are common types of documents in construction. However, these documents aren’t interchangeable. There are differences in the documents and their processes that prevent them from being used interchangeably. The next few paragraphs will help you understand the differences between transmittals and submittals and how you can better improve your construction document process.

What is a Transmittal?

In construction, there are differences in transmittal vs. submittals. Transmittals are a form of communication; however, it usually stands on its own. A transmittal doesn’t accompany any item or document. Transmittals can be updated documents or other documents that are necessary for construction. Transmittals are to help update the documents in the organization but don’t require any response.

What is a Submittal?

A submittal has some similarities to transmittals. However, where submittals differ is important for construction. A submittal is a form of communication; however, it requires a response. Usually, submittals are documents that accompany important items. These items are principle materials, plans, requests for information, and other similar documents. Many submittal programs will track submittals and responses to the submittals since it’s crucial.

How Transmittals and Submittals are Used in Construction?

Depending on the industry and parties involved, it’s not uncommon for submittals to be considered the first step in the building process. Since subcontractors and others will submit the materials and such that they plan to use in the construction process, they have to do this first. However, transmittals are usually used as a record of the documentation, required materials, or other for the project. Transmittals can be revised, but they don’t typically have a revision process, and they usually flow down from the general contractor to the subcontractor versus from the subcontractor to the general contractor.

So a general contractor might take the BIM files or drawings and send them to subcontractors, these records will sometimes list the required materials, sometimes they don’t. They are transmittals. The general contractor transmitted them to the subcontractor. After a subcontractor receives and reviews the documents, they will prepare their submittals. The submittals will contain all necessary information about materials to be used. The subcontractors can send this to the general contractor, and the submittal review process happens.

Transmittals and submittals are used for different processes in construction, and commonly used by various stakeholders. However, both are necessary, and it’s crucial to have access to the different types of forms required to streamline your process.

Transmittals and Submittals
Photo by DAPA Images on Canva

Using Technology for Your Transmittals and Submittals

There are over 2400 different applications and software solutions for construction, and there are a number of them that can help subcontractors organize and produce their transmittals and submittals. Having an app for only transmittals and submittals isn’t the best idea because it isolates information from your overall project management.

When evaluating potential technology to use in transmittal and submittal management, it’s important that it can enter transmittal and submittal information and log it for future reference. Because there can be a lot of transmittals or submittals in a project, the log is imperative. The log should be searchable with the project, transmittal or submittal number, and a status to be able to track the information better. Since submittals need to be tracked, knowing where they are in the process is super important. A transmittal and submittal system or module that doesn’t offer statuses to check where it isn’t is not a useful system.

A transmittal and submittal log needs to be able to be sent from the system. If you can’t email or send the submittal out from the system to the necessary stakeholders, a transmittal and submittal management system isn’t very useful.


Transmittals and submittals serve different purposes in construction, but they both have to be recorded and maintained in an easy to access system. Understanding the differences between the two, the processes they require, and the best way of managing them helps everyone in construction.

Don’t Leave Your Subcontracting Project Management to Chance

To set themselves up for long-term success, business leaders must focus on implementing systems that will help them get there. Investing in contractor documentation software might seem like an expensive option, but the ROI over the long run will pay off in less stress through better organization, scalability, and clear oversight into your projects.

eSUB is the only field-first contractor documentation software built for commercial subcontractors. We’ve made our software simple to use, enabling you to increase your bottom line and get to doing the stuff that matters. Contact us for a free demo.