Managing Multiple Work Package Specs

Nearly every specifier and design team has faced this problem. The owner (or sometimes the contractor) decides the project requires multiple packages to expedite the construction schedule. So now what? How can confusion be minimized while meeting the owner's goals?

Louis Medcalf and I lead the CSI Specifying Practice Group discussion exploring the challenges, considerations, and approaches designers and specifiers will face with multiple package projects. Nearly 50 members attended the meeting and contributed to the conversation.  If you like this summary, join the group and join us at the next meeting. View the entire presentation below.

Not surprisingly, most members reported at least some of their projects are issued using multiple work packages. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that there is no industry consensus and no specific guidance from CSI or AIA about how multiple package projects should be addressed. Louis proposed asking the CSI Technical Committee to accept the task of creating a practice guide for multiple package projects.

Primary considerations include adequately describing the scope of each package. What exactly is the designer sealing, the building official permitting, and the contractor building? Drawings and specs will inevitably show more than is required for a specific package. So it seems separate documents describing each package's scope are necessary.

It may be convenient to label individual packages, but the names may imply something not intended. Louis discussed many common names use for the packages. Early Release Package is a great label because it implies a Just-in-Time Package and a Late Release Package, both of which could be beneficial to accommodate some project schedules. Louis lobbied for "Work Packages" while I lobbied for simply "Issue."

The method group members use for assembling the documents was split nearly evenly between issuing stand-alone packages with separate documents for each issue and using cumulative documents to build on previous issues. Stand-alone packages work well for things like building demolition and piling. Once completed, no additional scope will be added to the package. Cumulative documents work better when initial information is required for pile caps, and supplemental information is required for grade beams and foundation walls.

Finally Louis presented ideas use in his firm to manage multiple packages. Rely on UniFormat to describe the scope of packages. Use narrow scope specifications so the scope can be matched with planned packages. Write descriptions of each package state what is and what is not included. Track the current spec issue using the table of contents.

Louis shared sample documents used to implement his ideas. Feel free to download these documents and use them as you see fit.

example summary of work package section.pdf
example paragraphs for fast-track projects.pdf
example table of contents for multiple work pkgs.pdf

Group members agreed that using the table of contents is a good way to indicate the issue and date for each spec section. Members also rely heavily on date and issue information in the header or footer of each spec section.

We invite your comments about the presentation and this summary. Post your comment below. Louis and I will respond and we hope others will too.

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