Everyone knows that nobody looks at a spec until there is a problem in the field, right? The contractor is doing something questionable, the harried architect opens the spec, hoping that the spec writer has written the language they need to back them up, and voila, there it is! Large grin … phew … saved by the specs again. And then, there’s the old tale about the contractor picking up the spec, weighing it out in his hand, and announcing “10 million dollars!” for his bid. These are old war stories of spec writers everywhere.
Perhaps it is stories like these that have made spec writing one of the least sought-after tasks of our professional practice. Indeed, most architects shudder at the thought of having to write a spec. But the fact of the matter is that writing a spec is a beautiful thing. It’s like putting together a complex puzzle, with not one piece missing or one piece left over. The specs and the drawings go hand-in-glove—one completing the other, one conveying information the other does not.


Specifications are the written description of the materials, products, and workmanship used to construct a design. They also include the requirements for administering and performing the work of a project. The specifications work in conjunction with the drawings to convey the design intent from the first conceptual design through the construction of that design. They are legal documents that define the execution of a contract for construction. In general, the drawings describe quantity, while the specifications describe quality.
Specifications can be anything from notes on a drawing to full-blown written specification sections in the project manual.


Typically, specifications are written by a person who has an in-depth knowledge of construction products, materials, and processes. A spec writer also needs field construction experience and a firm understanding of the legal implications of the construction documents. a senior architect or a partner may write the specifications.
Regardless of the source of the specification, however, all successful spec writers share a common set of qualifications. They must be proficient at writing, researching information, and analyzing data. They must be able to communicate verbally with project teams and understand graphic information conveyed on drawings, schedules, details, and charts. They must be organized, objective, and knowledgeable about building codes, construction law, insurance, and bonds. They must be up to date on current trends in the building industry, such as sustainability. And above all, they must be a resource and a credible source of information to the project team.


During the conceptual or schematic design phase of a project, the specifications generally consist of a list of materials or assemblies/systems that make up the basis of the design. In this phase, the specs are just a skeleton that establishes the basic framework. Specifications are general (e.g. brick veneer on light gage metal framing for exterior building skin) and exact building materials are not yet established. During the design development (DD) phase specifications begin to get fleshed-out and an outline specification is prepared. The outline specification can be as brief or as detailed as the project type, client, and project delivery method warrant.
In the construction documents (CD) phase, the specifications become very specific and usually take the form of a multi-page spec section for each material or group of materials. The specifications become the basis for the legal, contractual requirements of the project at the end of the CD phase. They must set forth the myriad of details that outline the quality of materials and workmanship required in the finished project. The format, arrangement, and content of the specifications must be complete and in conformance with established standards to aid in executing the project smoothly, with no unexpected misunderstandings.

A project specification (along with the project drawings) has at least ten different purposes:
  1  As a briefing document and a record of decisions made.
  2  As a design record.
  3  A demonstration of statutory compliance.
  4  A cost planning tool.
  5  A tendering document.
  6  A contract document.
  7  A project management aid.
  8  An on-site manual.
  9  As evidence in disputes.
  10  A resource for facilities management and building maintenance.


An excellent resource in my opinion for folks who are starting out with specifications and looking for a base template as a reference point that to completely free is SpexPlus

Click Here to download the march 2017 updated version of the template file and use it freely for setting up spec sheets.

I highly recommend it.
There are other master specification templates in the market on the lines of Spectext and Masterspec with more advanced capabilities.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Contact Form for MetamorphosisDesign.Org


Email *

Message *