It occurred to me that I could make note of some of the interesting things that happen every day in my specification consulting practice. I will try to keep this going for the second half of this year, posting a couple of times a month. They are all learning experiences for me – maybe for someone else, too.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Oops: Missed an add-on accessory product in a specialty casework section. Thankfully, the owner is not concerned about spending some extra money at closeout to get one-piece worktops. These were available from the manufacturer, but the tops were buried in the middle of their catalog and did not appear on their web page or datasheet or guide specification. The architect did not draw the casework details completely because they were buyout items. The tops are in our master now. Our job as specifiers is to foresee those things the architect may not draw, not just list what they do draw.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Multiple Guide Specifications for Manufacturers: A sizable portion of our work is writing manufacturer guide specifications. Given the time crunches and limited spec education of many architects, these documents end up in projects – so we write them as if the architect’s in-house specifier wrote them. More and more often, we are writing multiple documents rather than capturing different products in a single large editable guide spec. This eliminates much of the editing for the architect and makes the specification more accurate in the end. Everyone wins.
Monday, July 27, 2020
Email Subject Lines: Please use project names in email subject lines! I just wrote an especially brilliant answer to an email assuming it was for the wrong project! A project architect usually has one or two active projects; as specification consultants, we usually have five or more under active development and 15 under construction. Give the team a little help!
Friday, July 24, 2020
Owner Furnished and Owner Performed: The design team rolls their eyes when they encounter an owner who wants to purchase and furnish products or worse, install them themselves. That’s because it 1) means extra work on the drawings to make clear who is doing what, and 2) offers unlimited potential for coordination problems. Hopefully, it is an experienced owner and they have a competent construction manager to navigate these sometimes complicated waters. With our last update to MasterSpec’s Division 01, we added more detailed language to Section 011000 “Summary” to capture these requirements, as well as added language to Section 017300 “Execution” to point out the Contractor’s responsibilities for coordination. I hope that will help.
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Where Does it Say? We get at least one of these phone calls or emails each day. Frankly, none of our architect clients memorizes the 500 pages of specifications that we write for them. So it is much faster for them to just ask us. In this case, I was glad to say we had the issue about corner guards covered; I was sure I remembered adding the language before issuing the specifications. The next challenge is always: How to tweak the specifications so that the estimators and installers see what is there? Changing headings and tweaking paragraph formats sometimes helps to point out something that goes beyond the typical spec.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Which Concrete Where? Often confusing to those of us who do not organize our dresser drawers by CSI MasterFormat: Building and structural site concrete (like retaining walls) goes in Division 03 and is written by the Structural Engineer with assistance from the Architect. Site concrete, such as sidewalks, roads, and curb and gutter, belongs in Division 32 and is specified and shown by the Civil Engineer.
Friday, July 17, 2020
Legalese: Prepared a draft Supplementary Conditions today for one or our architect clients. We find that our younger clients often have not been exposed to preparation of bidding and contracting requirements. They have honed their design skills and construction drawing capabilities. But how things get built matters. We strongly encourage team members to pursue CSI’s CDT certification. It fills in many of these gaps in architectural education. The owner and the owner’s attorney need to be involved in Supplementary Conditions and other contract issues, as specifiers are not attorneys. But because we have our hands on contract administration every day, we can start the dialogue.
Thursday, July 16, 2020
What Color Roofing? I had an extended email conversation with the project architect, HVAC engineer, and school facilities manager about black vs. white roof membranes on a Central Virginia school. Decisions based upon relative energy impact is not so simple. With today’s higher insulation levels, is heat conduction between the two roofing types that much different? And what about increased ambient temperature above a black roof and how it affects rooftop unit AC and air intake temperatures? Issues involved also include projected durability, initial cost, ease of spot repairs, end of service life rehabilitation or tear off, recyclability. And: Will A/C run during the summer? Will school schedules change due to Covid? Sometimes there are too many variables and too little data to feel you have a handle on what to recommend to an owner.