Post 187 –by Gautam Shah
Types of Specifications in a Design Practice
A Design Office generates a variety of Documents that contain some or the other forms of Specifications. Such Specification related documents are of following categories:
- Drawings, Graphical representations
- Literary explanations
- References to other Graphical Representations and Literary explanations, Legends, Indexes, Lists.
Quality of Expression in Specification Writing
Writing Specifications is the most important way of facilitating a product or service. Specifications writing is an extended activity of contracting, so here too all the contract fundamentals are strictly followed. Such as “a contract has to be enforceable, and whatever is specified must be doable”. Specifications cover all valid and essential requirements of the job. A major danger in writing specifications is to include unnecessary information, choosing what to exclude is as important, as choosing what to include. Specifiers (Designers) must eliminate any requirement that adds no value to the Product or Service being acquired. The Specifier (Designer) must state clear conditions in a complete language, and yet remain brief.
Defects in Specifications and Liabilities
Very few specifications are totally free from defects. As a fundamental principle of law, a specifier (Designer) is responsible for the consequences of the specifications. Designers usually put in a disclaimer (in the contract with their client) for errors found in their work. The Insurance companies that cover the designers for Professional Liability (Professional Indemnity Insurance) insist upon it.
Most of the specification writers (Designers) incorrectly presume that their text of specifications is read and interpreted by comrade technocrats only, with whom they share similar experience and mind-set. Specifications, however, are more attended by non technocrats like the administrators, lawyers, jurors and judges. A contractor or vendor interprets the specifications, as long as the interpretation is commercially reasonable (read as an earning proposition).
Accuracy and completeness of Contract Specifications
A Contract is in force the moment it is signed, or dated to be effective. Once a contract comes into force, any thing that has been left-out, or not properly defined, can be only corrected through a Negotiated Supplementary Agreement. A Contract and Specifications must not leave out any aspect, as something to be agreed or determined later on (e.g. a clause like: plastic paint of x quality, but colour shade to be approved later).
Specification Writing is a last moment compilation, and as a result it is common to see specifications of items that do not exist, or have been eliminated from the project. Specifications of only intended items and required quantities of work should be provided to the contractor. Otherwise, the bids will reflect the necessity of being prepared to handle Intended items and Quantified work.