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Loretta Sheridan
Senior Member
Username: leshrdn

Post Number: 114
Registered: 11-2021
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2023 - 09:03 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Do you work with people who are married to Drawing notes that have been handed down, time immemorial, from generation to generation?

Okay, I exaggerate slightly.

But I see Drawing notes that pretty much repeat the specs. Overly detailed on installation, and often repeats applicable code. Also full of "Contractor shall..." and pretty verbose. It is like if they throw enough stuff on drawings. it will stick. And there is a GREAT reluctance to remove even a jot or a tittle.

Would love advice, battle tales, suggestions, words of wisdom, etc.

(My apologies if this was a recent-ish topic; because of our current security stuff, I can no longer search the discussion on this site.)
Steven Bruneel, Retired Architect
Senior Member
Username: redseca2

Post Number: 726
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2023 - 05:17 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

To my dreaded misfortune, I have worked on projects in permitting jurisdictions where the authorities having jurisdiction refuse to look at the specifications. One in particular because "we digitize all submittals and it is too expensive to do spec books"; And no, they will not accept our PDF files of specs.

So, if it isn't on a full size drawing sheet, it dosen't exist to them.
Loretta Sheridan
Senior Member
Username: leshrdn

Post Number: 115
Registered: 11-2021
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 - 08:06 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Are they still stuck in the twentieth century where hard copies had to be scanned to digitize?

Even if the permitting authorities don't read the specs, however, the specs are there for the construction of the project, and the contractor needs to read them.

Even if the contractor doesn't read them, they are there to for a reason. And that reason is why the drawings notes shouldn't be so... extensive.

You know who doesn't read what? Architects don't often read their own sheet notes. They have been on there since time immemorial, the drafting /modeling is usually done by someone fairly junior who doesn't read the notes, and even if they did, they likely don't understand them. And most of the time, I see another note slapped on a sheet rather than changing, editing, or deleting and existing sheet note. And all this means there is a HIGH probability of there being a conflict between the Drawings and the Specifications.

Now, AIA A201 indicates that if the contractor finds a conflict, it should be brought to the attention of the Architect. But I have seen Owner contracts (one was from a state's office of engineering) that give that precedence thing.

But even if the conflict does get brought to the attention of the Architect, the issue rarely gets filtered down to the notes on the NEXT drawing set, which copies the notes from the LAST Drawing set...
Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 787
Registered: 12-2002

Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 - 11:26 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Loretta: I have been on a binge of evangelizing to our architect clients about their drawing notes. They are all a mess. My rants are not met with wild enthusiasm. I even re-write the notes for them.

The topics I go after are:

1. Remove items covered in specs and and general conditions. This cuts the notes in half. Many notes are conflicting with specs or with each other.
2. Write Drawing Notes in Upper and Lower Case. We're not hand-lettering block letters on drawings anymore! U&LC is more legible. Architects are breathtakingly resistant to this idea - they are not knowledgeable in typography.
3. Organize Drawing Notes by topic: Dimension issues under one heading; Default instructions under one heading; Trade or discipline work under individual headings - if the note cannot be removed, etc.
SpecGuy Specifications Consultants
Dave Metzger
Senior Member
Username: davemetzger

Post Number: 824
Registered: 07-2001
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 - 12:17 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

My take is that voluminous drawing notes are an outgrowth of small offices doing small projects, that did not have specifications and so used “drawing notes” and overly-specific notes for wall sections and details. An example of “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. There's a lot of inertia to overcome in trying to get clients to change them.

I’ve also seen drawing notes added to as a result of “lessons learned” on previous projects. That can happen with specifications also. About 20 or so years ago, my firm was hired to update the Division One sections of a public agency. Their masters were based on MasterSpec, modified for the unique requirements of the agency, but they had one custom section titled "Special Requirements" that was not in MasterSpec (or even a MasterFormat title). I mentioned to the agency's project manager that there did not seem to be any logic to this section's structure or sequence of articles, that it read as if every time the agency got burned on a project, they'd add another article in reaction. He smirked and said, that's exactly what that section was for.
Loretta Sheridan
Senior Member
Username: leshrdn

Post Number: 116
Registered: 11-2021
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 - 12:27 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Phil - I completely agree with you on the U&LC, but that is low on my priority list. There are other hills I would rather die on.

I do like the idea of organizing drawings notes by topic!

My priorities are:
1. Getting rid of the superfluous notes (ones covered in the specs and the general conditions, and in some of the applicable codes.)
2. Getting rid of notes that delve into means and methods.
2. Consistency in the remaining notes.

I periodically scour the internet for project manuals and drawing sets. And I found some drawing sets from a very prominent architecture firm that had a recurring note to refer to the "specs manual." Sigh....
Greta Eckhardt
Senior Member
Username: gretaeckhardt

Post Number: 128
Registered: 08-2013

Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 - 12:42 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I agree with all that has been said, but my biggest hope is that drawing notes will use the exactly same terminology that is used in the specifications.

This would require that the specifiers have access to fairly complete drawings to review, and that the designers and drafters read the draft specifications. In that case, they might become aware that there is no need for lengthy drawing notes as long as they label the drawings using terms exactly according to the terminology in the specifications. A conversation between the architect and specifier might generate some project-specific terms such as CURTAIN WALL TYPE A, etc. that could be used on both drawings and specifications.
Loretta Sheridan
Senior Member
Username: leshrdn

Post Number: 117
Registered: 11-2021
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 - 02:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I really try to communicate the "specification language" to the design team, especially the people actually updating the drawings. Call me paranoid, but I often suspect that my comments in Bluebeam Studio Markup sessions are placed so low on the priority scale as to effectively be ignored. I share my general notes in project meetings, but I don't think there is much communication about it.

Essentially, I think that AITs don't include my markups and their PMs don't tell them to.

On the plus side...

I am making headway on getting the "architects in training" to ASK ME QUESTIONS. That is great, as they are the ones that incorporate the markups into the BIM model.

Someone here once shared an old "project manual" from the mid-1800s. That has been EXTREMELY useful for me to prove why "we have always done it this way" is not an good excuse.

Still, it'd be great if project manuals were as brief as that one was. But then, I would be out of a job.
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 1605
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 - 02:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

On rare occasions I've had the pleasure of working with Architects who understand and appreciate keynoting. Some of them actually eliminated most of their Drawing Notes and only added content that we agreed to take out of the specs, such as stud spacing in addition to the keynotes and keyterms. Amazing how much more readable the Drawings are without a bunch of gibberish. Every Project was lauded by the Contractors, we documented reduction in RFI's, and most of the Projects stayed on-time and on-budget. Curious how good communication can make everyone easier to work with.

One of my peeves is including Drawing Notes that refer to non-existent content such as "See Sheet A801 for Exterior Envelope Scope" on an interiors project.

I gave up on getting Architects to stop using terms and language that we know to be improper. Heck, I'm seeing a lot of that now from people writing specs who should know better.
Nathan Woods, RA, CSI, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: nwoods

Post Number: 922
Registered: 08-2005

Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2023 - 03:51 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

At my firm, as Technical Director, this was one of our ongoing “opportunities”. We used a Revit plugin called Keynote Manager that allows me to standardize notes based on our specifications and proper product terminology (gypsum board vs sheet rock), as well as create a consistent tense for verbs and so forth. They are generally organized in current Master Format numbering, with the 50 series being used for project specific keynotes. It works quite well, and allows for a lot of consistency in drawings when you know for example, exactly what keynote #1004 is with having to look it up.

I also controlled general notes, and those we had baked into the Revit template, and they were deductive in nature. Very useful in dealing with various agencies like LA County or OSHPD or DSA.
David Watson
New member
Username: david_watson

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2023
Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2023 - 05:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Hi Nathan (et al). It seems at NBS Chorus, we've done what everyone seems to be hinting at -- a plug-in to Revit that automatically synchronizes the spec numbers and titles with Revit. The information is added into Revit Properties, and the plug-in even monitors changes so they're always synchronized. No need for code numbers!

Contact me directly if you want a demonstration.
Brett Wilbur
Senior Member
Username: brett_wilbur

Post Number: 8
Registered: 09-2022
Posted on Tuesday, January 02, 2024 - 12:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

@Nathan: Happy New Year! If you have time, I'd like to email/chat with you about Keynote Manager+. Would you be interested in answering a couple questions about the software? SmithGroup is also looking at this issue, but I don't want to hijack this thread here. If not, that's okay too!

If so, can you email me at brett.wilbur@smithgroup.com?

Or I can open another thread if anyone else would like to discuss, either way.

Thank You!
Loretta Sheridan
Senior Member
Username: leshrdn

Post Number: 118
Registered: 11-2021
Posted on Wednesday, January 03, 2024 - 07:18 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Brett -- I would be grateful to you to open another thread, or "hijack" this one. I would be interested in more discussion about Keynote Manager.

We use it, but I don't think we use it effectively. I would love to see what other people have to say about it, or questions.

ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 1606
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Wednesday, January 03, 2024 - 09:20 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Great start to the discussion. Sharing this information is the best way to promote keynoting with our teams.
Some cautionary notes:
1. Keep in mind that not everything is modeled so decisions need to be made during modeling as to how to include content that requires mention in the Documents. What levels of detail do your teams provide, and when?
2. Early packages often ask for narratives/PPDs, outline specs, or preliminary specs long before content is modeled so we may be creating content and labels that need to be used by the modelers. The earlier we get involved, preferably starting in SD with UniFormat based assemblies that the Revit assemblies are based on, the easier it is to insert MasterFormat based keynotes. This is a great QA tool that can help the modelers properly model and label their content.
3. The further the team progresses before involving the Specifier, the harder it is to get them to use correct keynotes as they will not tend to want to go back and fix what they have already done.
4. Team leadership needs to establish who owns the keynote list. If you can own the content and require modelers to reach out every time they need to add a keynote, you now have a communications mechanism between modelers and Specifier. No more surprises. Note that modelers have to be trained to understand that they cannot just add notes, they have to use the vetted keynote list.
Nathan Woods, RA, CSI, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: nwoods

Post Number: 923
Registered: 08-2005

Posted on Wednesday, January 03, 2024 - 10:37 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I’m happy to reach out and answer questions about our process at Taylor Design, but just as a heads up, yesterday was my first day at my new job at Cuningham, so I’m a bit distracted at the moment.

I will say two things about Keynote Manager:
1. You start a project “attached” to the company database, then at a certain stage, generally before adding a bunch of custom.notes, you detach from the main database and now the keynotes “live” in the project model.

2. At the appropriate time, it’s easy to export all the keynotes into a list that can be shared with the specifier. Some guys like to scrutinize the drawings to prep the specs, some do not. Sharing the Keynotes as one list really helps streamline the spec production process, certainly up to the first draft stage.
Brett Wilbur
Senior Member
Username: brett_wilbur

Post Number: 9
Registered: 09-2022
Posted on Wednesday, January 03, 2024 - 11:42 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I will open a new thread. Thank you!
Seamus McGrady (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 03, 2024 - 11:29 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Just a quick note to help all you "specifiers" working on or researching a process to integrate your specs and keynotes. The only application currently coordinating these two (without an end of life) is VisiSpecs. Not so integrated if you are tied to another spec tool so coordinate carefully or RFIs and Addendums are likely. Reach out and we can help you and your BIM team learn more. I don't mean this to be sales pitch, but since you are responsible for the specs it would be advantageous to have coordination and alerts between your specs and keynotes and this sounds like a new area for some.
Brett Wilbur
Senior Member
Username: brett_wilbur

Post Number: 10
Registered: 09-2022
Posted on Wednesday, January 03, 2024 - 12:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Never mind. I've decided to contact Keynote Manager directly.
RH (Hank) Sweers II RA SCIP
Senior Member
Username: rhsweers2

Post Number: 34
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2024 - 01:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I judge a Project Architect's knowledge of the spec with their "general notes" and it's usually not very good!

I once went through a number of drawing sets and developed a "recommended general notes" listing (still to be edited per project) that did not repeat spec info (except maybe for not scaling the drawings!) but I more or less organized it per CSI Masterformat divisions - and did try to get my spec CYA notes (like for control joint spacing and painting everything not otherwise finished) in it. The list really wasn't that long! Had it for both interior only project, and also for shell / exterior work. I offer that as a "value-added service" and sometimes they use it! It's really strange when I start up a new project with a new firm and see "my notes" already included.

I also worked once on keynotes through Keynote Manager for Revit - but tried NOT to reference section numbers within the notes. It was a losing battle though, since a Principal at that firm wanted the spec numbers on the drawings since HE didn't know in what division to look for the info!

As a consultant now (and not as a firm owner) I can recommend a lot, but if they don't listen, I don't worry as much - not my zoo! But I do hope things get better someday!
Myron K. Hudson
Username: mkhudson

Post Number: 3
Registered: 03-2024
Posted on Thursday, March 07, 2024 - 07:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Our drawing notes serve a few purposes. 1) To satisfy certain AHJs or Agencies who insist on seeing them. 2) To communicate the scope and nature of the work, and the materials and their applications, to multiple parties starting at schematic design. The second item becomes less necessary once specs are developed, which leaves us with those AHJs and Agencies... 3) Notes specific to plans or diagrams and which address detail. Probably a different animal than what is being discussed.
Loretta Sheridan
Senior Member
Username: leshrdn

Post Number: 127
Registered: 11-2021
Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 03:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Okay, on a related "note":

To appease the PM: Is there a way to say "See Specifications" without actually saying "See Specifications" (and without keynotes; we don't really have time to do that. Drawing set is going out shortly-ish.)

Lynn Javoroski FCSI CCS LEED® AP SCIP Affiliate
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 2338
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 04:07 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Could you simply put the Section Number where you would write "see specifications"? No additional verbiage.

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