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Colin Gilboy
Username: Colin

Post Number: 50
Registered: 05-2000
Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 02:05 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


Copyright 2001 by Herman R. Hoyer, PE, FCSI, CCS

I received some questions lately about Design-Build Specifications and their relationship to Short-Form Specifications. As the author of the BART Specifications Standards for Design-Build Contracts, many people seem to think that I am somewhat of an expert on the subject. However, these Standards and the design-build specifications for the BART SFO Line Contract and Station Contracts have nothing in common with Short-Form Specifications, except subject matter.

For the sake of simplicity, the design-build specifications we shall talk about in this article are those most suited for smaller projects--design-build specifications in the short-form specifications mode.


Design-build specifications are essentially performance specifications, and the CSI Manual of Practice contains two fine documents, No. SP/090, entitled: Performance Specifying, and No. SP/130, entitled: Design Build. But they do not relate to short-form specifications. This article will deal only with the relationship of Design-Build Specifications to Short-Form Specifications.

Despite the touted achievements that have resulted from design-build contracts, such contracts are fraught with owner disputes, owner disappointments, and cost overruns. They are not a panacea by any stretch of the imagination.

Design/build is a stratagem used by owners to shortcut the design process by eliminating the employment of professional engineering consultants. The theory being that most reputable subcontractors, particularly in the mechanical and electrical fields, are fully capable of providing complete plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems meeting code requirements and the design features desired by the owner.

The owner is attempting to save time and money by eliminating the engineering design and fee, and by permitting the subcontractor to travel its own avenue to meet project requirements. I'm not a fan of short-circuiting the design process, but design/build is here to stay whether I like it or not.

The design-build process works best when code compliance is the major requirement. Fixtures and equipment can be indicated in Schedules on the Drawings. For example, here is a typical plumbing section:


A.Scope: Provide fully operational and functional plumbing system of required capacities, meeting requirements of applicable codes and design parameters as indicated.

B.Applicable Codes: Comply with applicable requirements of the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Part 5, California Plumbing Code. Plastic pipe will not be permitted within the building and to within 5 feet outside the exterior building wall.

C.Plumbing Fixtures: Refer to the Plumbing Fixture Schedule on the Drawings for requirements.

Some people will argue that the cited codes are statutory law and, therefore, need not be specified. This is true, but I still prefer to specify the applicable codes so that the Contractor knows exactly what the requirements and parameters are.

Most Building Officials require a professional engineer's stamp on the Contractor's drawings for design-build contracts. If this is necessary for an HVAC system, for example, I insert the following language:

D.Professional Engineer's Review: Engage the services of a professional mechanical engineer, currently registered in the State of California, to review and stamp the HVAC Drawings to be submitted to the Building Department for adequacy of design and compliance with applicable codes.

In my next installment, Design-Build Specifications - Part Two, I shall give you some more tips on developing design-build specifications in the short-form mode.

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