Blog Viewer

The Most Critical Elements of a Specification Document

By Peter Kray posted 04-08-2019 12:46 PM


Specifications, by definition, have to be specific. Which is why CSI members provided such concise replies to this question on the CSI Community Page—“Best Practice: In your experience which three elements are most critical in a specification document?”


You can read all of the responses, and add your insight to the conversation right here.


Current availability of product
Compatibility with surrounding products/systems
Ease of installation
Edward Soenke FCSI, Lifetime Member, CDT, AIA


I would have to expand the answer to four elements: Clear, Correct, Complete, and Concise. Other than that, the question can't really be answered. It depends on the Section and the owner's goals for the project.
Steven Groth CSI, CCS, CDT, AIA


I'd add a 5th ‘C’ - coordinated.
Dan Helphrey RA, CSI, CCS

Only spec to the degree that is important and don’t add or keep stuff you don’t understand—the contractor can see in three seconds if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Get rid of boiler plate and don’t keep language that doesn’t apply “just in case”—the contractor’s eyes take just two seconds to glaze over when they see that you don’t really care about your specs.

Make sure that your manufacturers and products are current, and don’t reference standards that expired—it only takes the contractor one second to lay your specs aside when they discover they don’t apply to the job at hand.
Darv Dombach


I would add:
- Product/material specified coordinated with the drawings, including details.
- Weed out specification wording that makes it impossible for any but one manufacturer to provide, even though you list four others, or at least coordinate your detail with your specification.
David Lewis CSI

I would like to add that it is critical drawings and specifications are in agreement with each other.
Mike McTamney


Related to Mike's comment, I have issued to our drafting a staff a list of material terms from the specs so the drawing will match the specs.

It's not cinder block or concrete block, it's CMU. It's not drywall, it's gypboard. And windows, storefront and curtainwall are all different systems.

I encourage staff to keep drawing notes to be relatively generic and let the specs pick up the details. This is one of my biggest peeves.
Gregg Jones, CSI CCS, AIA