Monica Jones of LRS Architects dives deep into a project manual and specifications.  She explains the different elements of the project manual, and shows examples of the various documents included.  She also explains how to produce a specification and the three different types.

Practical Applications

And we're here today to talk about project manuals and how to prepare and write a specification.

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During construction, there's always a pre-construction meeting where they can go over the sections, the Division 01 general requirements, which maybe we can talk about later. And the responsibilities are then laid out during construction. Then through to construction there's always just a reference.

Preferably, we would like to review the General Conditions and if possible the contract for construction earlier on in the design process, meaning before the the Construction Documents go out for Bid. So preferably in the Design Development, more so in the Construction Development side. It is important to review them because we get to coordinate it, what our services are in our agreement, cause sometimes there are conflicts.

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So the front end of the project manual, and that will be your bid forms, it'll be your instructions to bids or advertisements to bids, if it's a county or a municipality they may have some other instructions, like security, if it's a detention center. Sometimes there's available information that could be just photos of the site, it'll be a survey perhaps, a geotech, it could be all sorts of informants, just sort of information to allow the general contractor or bidders to know what the project's about or the site's about. Little bit of a history so they have a feel for what they're bidding.

How to go about producing a spec or making decisions, that's really key point number one is to work with your design team, your project manager, your project architect, 'cause they will be the ones that are having communications with their client and the program needs, finish its needs. So those conversations should start early in the design process and continue throughout until they're issued. One way to do that is to keep a product folder or manual of decisions made that get incorporated into the spec.

For construction documents, though, going out the door, it's usually a full standard or in those cases I said for smaller project, a short form.

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So that's a lot of, a performance spec would be sort of like the thermal requirements say we have a door needs to meet an R-value or a U-value of such. It could be wind loading, needs to meet code or air infiltration standards, right? Needs to meet ASTM E283.

It'll like for a tile it'll also describe accessories which will be the grout, it'll be the mortar and whether that grout or mortar is epoxy or a sand and finish, or a color. Other accessories could be things for substrate, refinement or patching borders, and then the part three is the execution so how you build it. So there will describe installation or applications, including prep and post-prep.

And how, at lest this office, does it will be a, either reissue a whole section with a new date, the date of the addendum. Or if it's a part of a section, just a paragraph or a sentence, we will bold that and call Addendum One or Addendum Two and issue that as part of an overall addendum. Drawings are a little different.

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If it's accepted then it will be proposed as a contract change and then through the submittal process and then marked on the documents as open design documents. Substitutions during bidding will, same process, though I will note it does not have to go through the general contractor if it's a hard bid obviously general contractors aren't selected yet so some of those have substitution requests come directly from sub or manufacturers. The same review process is in the court of the architect and or owner client.

So you discuss the project, the overall scope, what kind of contracting documents or the construction time and then you can go into more detail, where you go into more detail what are the structural components, what are the facade components, what's the roofing components what is the desire for those components long lasting, aesthetics, warmth or more modern. You discuss the finishes, you discuss accessories, you discuss the client's needs too. Maintenance, what are warranty requirements.

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