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Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 01:53 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

From the other threads we see concern for lack of future spec writers, and how we might train them. Schools rarely if ever address even the concept of specs, much less writing and compiling them.

So in full acknowledgement, and with all due respect for Mr. Rosen and Mr. Regener's marvelous 5th edition, is there a need for a very basic orientation type, spec writing primer, for students, young professionals and those just becoming interested in specs? [concept; use; relationships; location of information, language, legalities, etc.] Realize CSI has much of this in its documents, but would a concise booklet be of greater value?
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 03:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

.... or how about one titled "Project Manager's Guide to Specifications?"
Russell W. Wood, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: woodr5678

Post Number: 26
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - 03:04 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Dear Anonymous: Help is on the way!
David Axt, AIA, CCS, CSI
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 412
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - 04:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

How about "Idiot's Guide to Specifications" or "Specifications for Dummies"?

I have been seriously considering writing a small booklet for our consultants that not only explains what to do but WHY to do it. The booklet would also explain why it is to the consultant's advantage to write better specs.
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - 05:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The most convincing reason for consultants to improve their specifications is the statistic from our risk management consultants that, while consultant work makes up less than 35 percent of our fees, it generates 70 percent of claims and disputes.
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - 07:37 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I just got hammered today because a project the PM forgot to tell me about needs a Project Manual last Friday. This was followed on with a question about why I wasn't doing more to find some help (they wanted to hire a PR flack to help me part time--guess how much help that would be).

I have gotten pretty efficient on our smaller projects, but still can't seem to get people to see that (1) effort to generate specs for a project does not scale very well with project size or fee, (2) what's on the Drawings does matter to me (if I can't understand what they are referring to so that I can generate a spec, how does the Contractor interpret it), and (3) even our repetitive bread-and-butter projects have a surprising amount of 1-off stuff that has to be ferreted out and then spec'd (althought few people have given any thought to it).

Consultants are right up there. Some will reprint a boilerplate specification without bothering to review it since all the really important stuff is scheduled ont the drawings and then wonder why no one will pay any attention to the specification.

What I suspect happens in offices that don't understand specifications and produce a 'spec book' because it's expected is that the office reads it even less than the Contractor does. The guys checking the Submittals know what they want even if it isn't spec'd (or drawn) that way. Some of the time, the designer (architect or engineer) has changed his/her mind by the time the thing is being built anyway.
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 10:14 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Not that I want to digress from the intent of this thread, but ditto to the most recent anonymous's. I have people in this office come to me all the time to get specs done for them. Without fail, my first comment to them is "Get me a set of drawings so I can review them, make notes about products/materials in the project, and then I can write a spec." Of course, that only gets materials and sections organized, and additional information is needed to be found specifically about those materials to be incorporated ... red oak? white birch? anodized? PVDF? etc. Realizing that the specs and drawings normally get finished by the same deadline, rarely do I ever get drawings that have all materials defined. And for those materials that aren't on the reviewed set, only occassionally will I get any updates on those possible missing materials.

Specifications around here just don't seem to get appreciated until it is time for a claim, and then the spec saves the day.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 315
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 10:39 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have regularly and consistantly worked with project managers and principals to discuss how specs are prepared, and the schedules that are needed to make it happen. After about three years of this, it has had some positive effect. Nevertheless, I have to keep track to some extent of what jobs are in the office and what the deadlines are likely to be. I realize that for larger offices, this may be impossible due to the number of jobs. Making senior management aware of these issues can help. One must constantly be an advocate for one's contributions, and for the resources needed for success.
Julie Root
Senior Member
Username: julie_root

Post Number: 6
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 11:32 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I am a Project Architect that usually has the duty of managing the writing specs for my own job. In an effort to get the team to think about the specs sooner than later I assign Divisions to each team member, usually divisions that correspond with the drawing work they are assigned. When we are reviewing their drawing work I review the spec divisions and make a list of questions they have for the designers. I try to start this as soon into a project as possibile. We found that it has been helpful and educational to get the team involved. It takes A LOT of communication, but what in this business does not.

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