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Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 1160
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - 01:05 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT, Cincinnati, OH

Let’s start with this premise: "OVER DETAILING" is characterized by, but not limited to:

- producing overly complex and confusing drawings [this may indicate the need for other drawings,
and/or a change of projection];
- trying to show too much in one view;
- expending time [and money] for depicting virtually useless or unneeded information, and for which
there is no meaningful return; showing wholly superfluous information [work beyond, for example];
- detailing items that come as stock, standard or factory-fabricated units, and really require no detailing;
- creating work which by its depiction will needlessly elevate the liability of the professional;
- creating work which is redundant, uncoordinated, or unreferenced in the other drawings and work.
- producing drawings which, by various drafting techniques, places the emphasis in the wrong places;
- making the drawing more complex by adding numerous dimensions, lines, notes, and other rather extraneous information, so the drawing is rendered unreadable;
- showing too many layers of work beyond the cutting plane;
- creating customized details/work when standardized, stock items are available, and appropriate;
- detailing work that is open to minor changes which negate the need for added detailing;
- including items that need not be shown as they will be included via other standards, or which are
common practice [nail heads, door knobs, etc.].

Now in similar manner, is it possible to “over specify”? Following the “rules” of “saying it once", etc., and in line with the four C’s, can we go too far in writing specifications? Well, in like manner I think we all are quite wary of “under specifying” where we say too little and leave Swiss-cheese sized loop holes for others to "jump through"!

If we specify in the proprietary mode, a single item by model number, need we then itemize the various included features of the manufactured unit? Do we gain a good deal, or do we do injustice to spec “down to a gnat’s eyebrow”, only to then leave those provisions without enforcement? Do we really have to “nail everything down” to withstand Hurricane Extra/Change Order? Is there a level of acceptable remiss?

Do we write specs for projects much differently than we specify as we make personal purchases on a daily basis [i.e., how much do you do when you specify “on the fly” in some store where you know what you want?]? Are we under commitment or obligations to our clients to be unfaltering and meticulously complete, to the point of confusing, confounding, compounding and convoluting [another four C’s !]?

Must we follow the prescribed path of the book some years ago called, “Everything-You-Wanted-To-Know-About-Sex-But-Were-Afraid-To-Ask?” [Come to think of it, I never did finish that book-- oh, never the mind, you get the direction of it]. Should its basic concept and direction be part of our specs?

Don’t we all tend to answer questions with such verbosity [I did look it up!] that we too often produce narratives that approach “cradle to grave” explanations of everything about something we should answer, "yes" or "no"? Too often when asked about an item, we respond with details of the whole of the manufacturing process-- why?

I’m not saying we should stop because we know that perfection is unobtainable; we should always try to do both our best and in a manner that best serves our client and project-- but that need not be in the realm of needless wordiness, rampant loquaciousness, or overblown verbosity-- we aren’t paid by the word! In the era of thoughtlessly frugal, low and tight fees, this is something to think about-- don’t you agree [in-house or consultant makes no difference]? Not saying, “back off”! Saying, “do it right the first time”-- with another set of 4 C’s- Calm, Cool, Collected and Coherent, and a very strong dose of concise!! Kill it but don’t overkill it!

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