Construction specifications 101

Written by LetsBuild

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What Everyone Needs to Know about Construction Specifications?
Construction specifications are more commonly known as specs to those who work in the field of construction.  They detail the work and the workmanship that is needed to complete the construction project and they are so important that no job can be done without them.
The construction specifications are basically a written document that details the scope of the work, all the materials that will be used for the project, the methods that will be used to get everything done, and the quality of workmanship for the work that will be done under contract.  This information is usually included with working drawings, so that everything can be seen visually and compared.
All this is completed prior to the beginning of the construction process, while the project is still within the design phase.  There is not always a set structure for the construction specifications, as some projects require different structures than others, but they are helpful to the contractors and subcontractors anyway.
Construction specifications are normally prepared by architects and designers, but project engineers also get involved in the process since they have a wealth of on-site knowledge.  They are the ones that can ensure that technical items will work as specified on paper or if changes need to be made before the specs are ready to be shared for the bidding process.

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When projects are larger, professional specification writers are normally hired, as it ensures that no minute detail is left out.  This is especially important when there are changes to the drawings, as necessary details will need to be added to keep up with the complexity of the job.  This is necessary because the better the details, the better chance there is that every part of the job will be completed as it should.  The specs also try to ensure that there are little risks with the current project.
There are three different types of construction specifications and they are prescriptive, performance, and proprietary.  Prescriptive construction specifications will provide details on both the materials and the installation information that is required to complete any project.  Most of the time, these specs will include how to measure each installation to ensure that each one offers the best quality and standards.
Performance construction specifications will describe the operational requirements.  They let the contractors know exactly what is needed when the project is completed and how everything should function.
Proprietary construction specifications are not as common as the other two, because they are only used if there is only one specific product available to use for one of the installations.
For years, construction specifications were not written until the last minute, but that is beginning to change due to their importance.  Everyone is learning that these specs are needed, as they have crucial information to improve the results of a project with minimal risk.  That means starting them early and honing them as the project advances.  Thankfully, software is making this entire process easier, because people can upload all their documents into one place.  This allows each document to be linked to certain specifications.  Since everything can now be online, everyone can access the information from anywhere, which can save time and money.
Anytime the construction specifications are not completed correctly or are not specific enough, problems arise.  Those problems can include everything from massive change orders and cost overruns to scheduling delays.  All those things can cost a company money and a lot of it.
Many people seem to think that blueprints combined with certain documents outweigh the need of construction specifications, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  After all, the specs include such intricate details that cannot be seen in photographs and drawings.  Plus, they can contain information on how an item should be installed one way instead of another.  This is where the information that project engineers share during the construction specification writing process can come in handy.  If they already know that something will not work, they can ensure that no one else wastes time or money trying to do it that way anyway.  Instead, the workers can do it the way that it needs to be done, essentially guaranteeing success instead of failure.
Some businesses will not even offer a bid for a project unless they have been given solid construction specifications, because without them, it is nearly impossible to create a price for the all the work, materials, and labor that is needed to complete the project.  While other companies will place a bid without the construction specifications, they are usually the ones that are larger and can sustain the loss if one happens to occur.
Everyone in the construction field needs to be aware of construction specifications and how significant they are, because they will make every part of the business easier, as well as more profitable.