The perception persists. I had this discussion again (lost track of how many times over the years) just last week. Contractors distribute selected specifications and drawings to subs and material suppliers - not the entire set. So the subs and materials suppliers do not see the Division 01 - General Requirements specifications that contain all the administrative procedures affecting every technical specification section.
The questions begin, arguments ensue, RFIs fly, and change orders develop.
Why do we continue to torture ourselves and everyone else on the construction team? Tradition perpetuates the information sharing problems. We think in paper (hard copy) terms and respond with paper solutions.
Stop the insanity!
It's a digital world. Just look around. It's hard to find someone not connected to the digital world. Look at your own children and grandchildren - today's and the future's construction workforce - and their digital connection. It's here and not going away.
Abandon notions tied to paper publishing. Compile all specifications into a single (bookmarked) PDF file. Issue the single file to the contractor as the construction document. Then everyone bidding and constructing the project will have access to the entire set of specifications.
Most likely, the contractor will not bother to split the file to extract only selected sections or only selected pages because it is too easy to just send the entire file.
"But, PDF files tend to be large - maybe too large to email," you say. So spend an extra minute and compress the file before issuing, or take advantage of file sharing systems like Dropbox or project websites.
While You Are at It…
Are you still setting up specifications for duplex printing, even though they may never be printed (except to prop a door or level a table)? Abandon page formats that reverse headers and footers for odd and even pages. When viewing specifications on a monitor, tablet, or phone, flip-flopping text is just annoying!
Be sure the PDF file includes bookmarks to quickly navigate to the start of each spec section. Individual file including the section number and section title that automatically become the bookmarks will aid readers to find information quickly.
When the contractor claims he can't find information in the spec, begin the conversation by "Did you search the PDF file?" With this standard response, the point will be made, and perhaps - just perhaps - those questions about not being able to find information will disappear.
Make it Happen!
So what is stopping you from embracing the digital age and eliminating arguments resulting from missing information?