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The Most Critical Elements of a Specification Document, Part 2

By Peter Kray posted 06-03-2019 16:07


More than two months after this question, “In your experience which three elements are most critical in a specification document?” was posted on the CSI-Connect Community, members are still debating what they believe is essential, and what they leave out.

“We have made it standard procedure now: prior to 90 percent completion, the Spec Writer shall review the Drawings to confirm agreement with the Specifications.”
Mohan Sagar|Civil Engineer|CSI


“Grammar, spelling, eschewing overly florid diction.”
Dan Helphrey RA, CSI, CCS


“I am going list the four (4) C's, as follows:

CONCISE: A specification needs to be clear and succinct as well as, comprehensive. Also, Non-Redundant, as well as pertinent. (For example, do not include References and Standards that are not related directly to what is being specified).

CONSISTENT: Every Section should have the identical Format, even if not used. In this case, you should still list the Section or Sub-Section and indicate ‘Not Used", in my opinion.

CURRENT: This is a tedious task. However, we list hundreds of References, especially ASTM Standards. Standards are updated or revised on an ongoing basis. In my opinion they should be checked at least once a year to make sure we are specifying the latest and current edition of the reference or standard.

COORDINATED: At one time, I believe this was the primary point CSI pounded into us. The Design Team has to make a unified decision, prior to blocking-out the Working Drawings, about many specifics such as sizing and fastener spacing. For example, prior to BIM and REVIT, the sizing and fastener spacing were shown on the Working Drawing. The material would be called-out in a specific manner such as, ‘Prefinished Sheet Metal Counterflashing,’ or, ‘Stainless Steel Fasteners at 3" OC in a Staggered Pattern.’”
Reiner A. Pligge, ALA, ASTM, BEC-C, CDT, CSI


“Reiner, Loved your post, but "CURRENT" is not one of the four “C's.”

You missed CORRECT, which takes precedence over CURRENT.

I say this because the ASTM standards are only important if the a.) Architects who specify them, and b.) the Contractors who procure based on them, and c.) the Manufacturers and Installers who build based on them all understand what they mean. This is far from certain.

P.S., Changing standards every year actually makes it less likely that the changes will be meaningfully implemented. Contractors are not getting that much continuing education, factories cannot retool on that schedule, and Architects can’t specify that far in advance. My projects have a duration of two to three years (start to finish). Not everything needs be updated annually.”
Cam Featherstonhaugh CSI, CDT, AIA


“Lest anyone get confused (especially those prepping for an exam), only one of Reiner’s four Cs is actually listed in the Project Delivery Practice Guide. The CSI four Cs are, ‘Clear, Concise, Correct and Complete.’ Although Reiner's aren't bad additions!”
Steven Groth CSI, CCS, CDT, AIA


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