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4specs Discussion Forum » Herman Hoyer, PE, FCSI, CCS » #05 - Use of Reference Standards - Tenet 3 « Previous Next »

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Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 12:23 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


Copyright 2000 by Herman R. Hoyer, PE, FCSI, CCS

For this installment of the column, we’ll cover Basic Tenet No. 3, as follows:


The use of Reference Standards is the single most important element in the preparation of short-form specifications. Reference Standards is the main tool or vehicle by which the length of specifications can be reduced, because most Reference Standards are in themselves complete specifications.

For example, let’s look in the American Concrete Institute’s “Standard Specifications for Structural Concrete” (ACI 301-96), Section 2 – Formwork and Form Accessories, on page 301-20. Here is a complete specification on concrete formwork. Why should you repeat in your project specifications something which is already specified in ACI 301? Of course, you don’t need to. You need only incorporate ACI 301 by reference, as I have done in my short-form specifications.

The same holds true for Section 03200, Concrete Reinforcement. Section 3 – Reinforcement and Reinforcement Supports of ACI 301 is a complete specification on reinforcing steel for concrete. Again, you don’t need to repeat these specifications in your documents, except for incorporatng ACI 301 by reference. And so it goes for the other Concrete Sections as well.

As you can see by the above examples, you can make major reductions in the length of specification sections through the proper use of Reference Standards. However, short-form specifications are not a panacea or without risk. Critics argue that when disputes arise at the jobsite, Reference Standards are not readily available. They argue further that when everything is spelled out in the specifications, reliance on Reference Standards is not needed. There is some validity to this argument for larger work, but not for smaller work.

1. First of all, you don’t expect every section to be disputed.

2. Secondly, you have a certain amount of protection because of the required inspections performed by the county or municipal Building Official.

3. Thirdly, you protect yourself and the owner against disputes by specifying certain safeguard paragraphs in Section 01423, Reference Standards. Remember, this is one of the most important Division 1 Sections. Later on in this series, I will include the text of my Reference Standards Section.

4. Finally, most work at the site under the Contractor’s foreman is performed from the drawings and shop drawings, The specifications are usually in a drawer someplace and are rarely referred to. They are brought out of the drawer only, in most instances, when the Architect or Owner’s representative visits the site and calls the Contractor’s attention to some item or condition covered only in the specifications. Or when the Architect wants to verify something in the specifications.

If, at such a time, there is a dispute, then the cited Reference Standard must be produced. That’s why you need a paragraph in Section 01423, something to the effect that: "The Contractor shall obtain copies of referenced standards direct from publication sources as required for proper performance and completion of the Work.” As a last resort, you, the Architect or Engineer, must be able to produce the reference standard in question.

In the next installment of this column, we’ll continue with Tenet No. 3 and discuss “Reference Standards and Your Library.”

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