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

Post Number: 1256
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - 09:27 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

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

And then there were no specs! And very few people remember them or what they did or how they were developed and written. Fewer still are the number of people who remember that specifications were the third of the Contract Documents for projects.

Could this day come? WILL it come? How soon?

It’s no longer “odd” but disturbing and mystifying that department meetings now are consumed with almost the total conversation about the operations within BIM, and the new software that seems to arrive daily. We are trying to figure how to do this [because one client wants it] and how this can be done otherwise [to meet the requirements of our operation, and other clients. I have fond thoughts opening large steel drawers in storage neatly cramped with sheet upon sheet of media [paper, linen, etc.] which were project drawings. Now it is rare if I find what I want with my first effort.

Drawings have come to dominate [and have done so, more and more, for years] with disproportionate status, and inordinate time for production to the point that specifications are virtually forgotten and invisible. OK, fine! BUT how do you “see” non-graphic things without specifications? First, no one will have a “whipping post” to beat on; to denigrate; to despise; to fear; to malign; and generally, pooh-pooh [sorry Winnie for putting a negative aspect to your name!]. Of the thousands of words in specs-- and assessing 1000 words as one “picture”, then how many more sheets of drawings do we need develop? Even then, how do you “draw” insurance requirements, temporary electric, cherry face veneer on doors, DFT of paint [indeed, draw “latex” paint!]. Even if we try to place ALL of the necessary specification information on the drawings, we will simply add more drawing sheets-- and of very crowded, overly complex, unreadable type that is almost sure to confuse and confound users.

Sitting in reclusive limbo is not the strategy for resolving this issue/situation! [You know—the one we all rouse about] Just think what would be going on, in the new day, IF the specs development process had the hoo-rah and chutzpa of the BIM-- the portrayal of the “thing” that will both save the world and the one person to service it-- he/she who pushes the ON button [well, heck that could be on a timer too, both On and OFF!!!!]. Well, anyway, when activated [somehow] the software and machinery go “biff”/”bam” and the document[s] for a new school appear and are electronically sent to the robots [actual robots!] in the field which in similar fashion “biff/bam” the construction!!

Specifications will remain as they are if there is no effort to reveal more about them; to teach them as a work topic in professional education; and to treat them as a respectable document, necessary, valuable, legally astute and extremely helpful in the construction of any project. They need wide exposure and discussion [like BIM]. They need to be re-evaluated by explanation, discussion, information, informative advertising, articles and other expression that gives them a place, with the drawings as part and parcel of project documentation; interrelated, coordinated, supplementary and complementary!!

Very few young professionals and others in allied work know of or see the need or know enough to come and seek out specifications. Even practicing professionals often ignore or discount them. These are the primary groups along with allied industry organizations and members who need our help, service, and discussion/explanation. It is not a matter of winning, or one-upmanship, but rather a strong directed effort to show that specifications are far too import to ignore, or eliminated-- and perhaps to be a "lost" part of the massive BIM database.

They should be known as essential, helpful, chock full of valid information, and well able to stand alone in part, and appear in other situations as needed. So why not specifiers sharing their work, passion, knowledge and expertise? Seems like a great, on-going task!

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