Who is the Specifications Beneficiary?

Specifications are technical documents - part of a construction contract - describing contracting requirements. Is there really a beneficiary to such a legal document?

There are several questions to consider to understand who the beneficiary may be.

1.    Who writes specifications?

2.    Who are specifications written for?

3.    Ultimately, who do specifications benefit?

Specs Are Written By…

Specifications are assembled into the project manual from the entire design team. The architects, the engineers, and specialty consultants, all contribute specifications for their individual design disciplines. Sometimes the design team may employ a dedicated specifications consultant to help write and assemble the construction specifications.

The project specifier, whether in-house or a consultant, will work with the design team to document the owner's project requirements within the written construction contract documents. The specifier will interpret the design intent and synthesize the owner's quality requirements into a clear, complete, concise, and correct set of instructions so the contractor builds the project to meet the owner's expectations.

Specs Are Written For…

Specifications are a contract document written primarily for (drum roll, please) the contractor's estimator as the first user of the construction documents. Not the architect, not the owner, not the contractor in general. The specifications must convey the right information for the contractor's estimator to quickly understand the project and parse the work among his favorite subcontractors to bid, to be selected as the successful bidder, and ultimately to buy the project.

If the estimator does not understand the specifications, the bids will be ambiguous. Ambiguity and uncertainty will lead to contingencies. Contingencies will increase the project cost. And increased costs may exceed the owner's budget. The consequence could be "no project at all" or "redesign at no cost to the owner." In either case, the design team loses (reduced profits), the owner loses (delayed completion), and the community may lose, too (reduced positive influence).

Specs Benefit…

The design team benefits from specifications because Division 01 sets out consistent rules for the construction process. The rules allow the owner, contractor, and architect to know their roles and individual responsibilities. Construction rules define work scope and permit each entity to accurately predict costs to administer the construction contract.

The construction team benefits because specifications define the construction materials, products, systems, and assemblies. Well prepared specifications allow the construction team to buy and construct the project, with confidence in the requirements that must be met by the completed construction.

The OWNER is the ultimate beneficiary of the specifications. Why? The specifications control construction quality. Institutional owners with multiple facilities and multiple campuses that desire to maintain a common quality across all facilities can rely on specifications to establish that control. The specifications embody the owner's project requirements for individual projects and the owner's construction standards - the overall quality control experience to incorporate what works and avoid what does not.

Engage Your Specifier

Treat your specifier as a specialty consultant and exploit the specialty skills to your advantage. Engage your specifier to work with the entire design team and the owner to ensure all the project requirements are accurately documented. Tap the technical expertise, materials knowledge, and extensive experience in multiple building types to aid system and assembly selections to meet the project's needs. Build project value through improved construction document coordination when specifiers begin work during early design stages rather than when nearing the completion of construction documents.

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