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David Axt, AIA, CCS, CSI
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 668
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, May 12, 2006 - 07:07 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I thought that I have asked this question before but can't find it here on the discussion forum.

Anyhow, I have a heck of a time with colors and finishes in my specifications. The problem is architects and designers don't know what items need colors. Everyone always forgets about the little things like corner guards, or elevator flooring, or casework grommets, etc.

Also I have a hard time dealing with all the changes along the way. Colors seem to change up until and after the spec print date.

Does anybody have thoughts on how to smooth out the process?

(In my ideal world colors/finishes/patterns would be independent of the specs.)
Hans W. Meier, FCSI, Honorary Member of CSI
Senior Member
Username: hans_w_meier

Post Number: 8
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Friday, May 12, 2006 - 07:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I had the same problem for years. It's nearly impossible for dewsigners to select colors realistically until they can see the three dimensional space as it has been built.

After consulting with several of my clients, and their interiors people, we began saying that final selection of colors would be made later by the Architect and, if necessary, would set an arbitrary limit on the number of "deep tones" (the ones that have an impact on paint cost). It solved our problem and seemed to go down alright with the subs.

Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 169
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 - 11:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I've worked with a group of interior designers with whom I developed a set of excel spreadsheet schedules that included a finish legend. Final basis of design product selections, colors, and patterns are in the schedules; the specification sections reference "as scheduled" for the information located there. Greatly simplifies the specifications and expedites color comparisons, addenda, and modifications as selections are made and updated.
Lynn Javoroski CSI CCS LEED AP SCIP Affiliate
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 367
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Monday, May 15, 2006 - 08:53 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

What my company does is quite similar to Phil's. We publish a material list that includes color, pattern, some manufacturer information (like for carpet), contact information if that's appropriate, style, model, etc. The basic quality and installation information remains in the specification. Coordination of the two is sometimes an issue (making sure that each item in the list has a specification), but that's minor compared with the ease of change and identification on the drawings.
(Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, May 15, 2006 - 12:44 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


Your Excel spreadsheets sound like a better mousetrap. Are your spreadsheets proprietary? Are you able to share?

Thanks in advance.

Russ Hinkle, AIA, CCS
Advanced Member
Username: rhinkle

Post Number: 5
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Monday, May 15, 2006 - 09:08 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I had the same experience in my previous office and it worked well. We used Excel spreadsheets and an AutoCad add on program call Spanner. Worked really well. Now with Revit, the interiors group just does it right in the BIM model.
Steven T. Lawrey, AIA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: lawrey

Post Number: 49
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, May 15, 2006 - 02:07 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


We include a finsih legend that lists every floor, wall, wall base, and ceiling color/pattern/finish as well as colors for plastic laminate , solid surfacing, corner guards, blinds, etc. Admittedly, it gets quite lengthy for large projects, however this approach puts the responsibility for these decisions with the designer. This is good for me, because I don't take the heat when the wrong color gets installed. In the specifications I refer the contractor to the finish drawing for colors. When it comes to accessory items such as grommets, tile grout, shelf brackets, I cover the designer by asking for selection samples from manufacturer's full range.

A veteran independant specifier in this area once told me that this type of information belongs in the specs, however, he rarely documents it that way because most firms put the colors in a schedule or legend on the drawings. I think this methodology is a byproduct of our times: fast track jobs, owners/designers that frequently change their minds, new /discontinued finishes, etc.

It was good seeing you in Las Vegas.
T.J. Simons, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: tsimons

Post Number: 8
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 10:38 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have used several approaches to this, depending on office set-up and project type:

When I was in a firm with in-house Interior Designers, we had all colors/patterns in the Project Manual. When MasterSpec had their "Product Data Sheet" format, it worked quite well for us-if a color or pattern changed, we just issued an updated Product Data Sheet via Addendum or contract modification where appropriate. We were doing primarily private work, so the spec could be proprietary.

When I was with a firm that did public school work, we selected all the colors and patterns during the submittal process. The spec would identify products as Basis Of Design, and indicate a number of colors for each product, with an approximate percentage breakdown of distribution. Drawings and schedules would show extent of different colors by use of keynotes (Tile-Color A, Tile-Color B, etc.). We'd prepare sample boards based on the manufacturers whose products were accepted during the submittal process, either the basis of design product or an accepted alternate manufacturer.

Now, I am in a firm doing health care work, largely for private clients. I am working with outside ID consultants, so coordination is extremely important. Lately our primary ID consultant has expressed interest in using an Excel format for Finish Schedules, along with what they call a "Color and Material Schedule", which is basically a finish legend. I'd be interested in seeing any examples of Excel format schedules that you are willing to share-we put one together ourselves, but that doesn't mean we can't improve it.

I always like to have some input and control over this process, especially with interior work. You need to work closely with your ID consultants, and not just accept what they give you unless you have worked through a few specs with them and developed a good relationship and understanding of document coordination.

Unfortunately, 90 percent of the "Finish Legends" I've seen contain a lot of information which really should be in a specification (and which most specifiers could document in a better way). Just as junior architects sometimes get specs and shop drawings dumped on them without proper instruction, many entry-level and junior interior designers are assigned the "finish specs". I have found that once most interior designers understand what goes in a spec, they are happy to let the specifier take some of the load, as well as coordinate their work more closely.
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 186
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 07:50 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have found that some architects, especially those in smaller practices, prefer to select colors during construction. In larger firms with more complex designs, this information must be documented in some what because the CA people are not color selectors nor are they rag pickers.

I am more and more dependent on the specification language, "Color as indicated on the Drawings, or if not indicated, as selected by Architect from manufacturer's [standard] [full] range." That language allows for the best scenario (color selected before the project goes out the door), but still leaves ultimate control in the hands of the Architect.

Specifically how it gets handled on the Drawings (or in the Specs) will also depend on whether the project is private or publicly bid. Unreasonably closing the spec merely because of a particular color pallete may not be appropriate (or even legal). Many designers are unaware of the range of colors/patterns that may be available for particular materials. The color range for color anodizing is limited, but the color range for powder coating (especially in larger quantities) is extremely broad. Any paint manufacturer can match any other paint manufacturer's color (even in smaller quantites) and any carpet manufacturer can knock off any other manufacturer's carpet pattern/color (or even the color and pattern in that necktie you got for Father's Day 10 years ago) in surprisingly (but not necessarily) small quantities. Where designers insist on a particular paint manufacturer's product because that is the fan deck they used to make color selections, they are exhibiting a good deal of ignorance about that part of the industry.

If colors/patterns are selected before the CDs are completed, I really do feel like a lot of this information belongs on the Drawings. Salient requirments about certain products can be put in the specifications, so that comparable products or substitutions can be evaluated, but a finish legend, finish schedule, and where appropriate, detailed finish plans and elevations keyed to legends and schedules probably belong together on the Drawings.
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 339
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 12:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

we generally address color and material selections in a separate finish materials listing and then refer all the spec sections to it. this allows the interiors people to continue to make changes up until the last minute and also places the coordination for the drawing notations clearly in their court.
This system doesn't always work because if they change materials too often, the specs aren't always up to date.
a problem we are coming up against is the issue of long project construction times. we know that any color selections made now will be invalid in 5 years when the project is finally being constructed. we're strategizing now how to present preliminary selections for early owner approval and then hold back the final selections until we are closer to actual build out.

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