Contract Documentation Specifications

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  Contents 1. General  1.1 Introduction 1.2 Uses of a specification 1.3 The specification and the contract drawings 1.4 Types of specification 2. Writing the specification  2.1 Writing a specification 2.2 ‘Escape’ clauses 2.3 Appearance of a specification 2.4 Basic order 2.5 Alteration works 2.6 Preliminaries 2.7 Provisional and prime cost sums 3. Standard specifications  3.1 Office specifications 3.2 The UK National Building Specification 4. Performance specifications  5. Sources of specification data  6. New work – representative specification  7. Works of alteration and repair  7.1 Redecorations and minor repairs 7.2 Dilapidations 7.3 Alterations and repairs Appendices   A Extract from a specification for a new building   B Example specification for works of alteration and repair   © The College of Estate Management 2006 Paper 1434V5-0  Contract documentation: Specifications  Contract documentation: Specifications Paper 1434 Page 3 1 General 1.1 Introduction The verb ‘to specify’ is defined in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary  as ‘to speak of or name something definitely or explicitly, to set down or state categorically or  particularly’. A specification therefore may be defined as: ‘A description of an article or method so complete that it can be bought or built  by others to the complete satisfaction of all concerned.’ Modern construction specifications arose from the development of competitive tendering systems and the consequent need for precise and contractually binding documents that set out in detail all the contractor’s work.  Note, however, that although construction specifications are still most commonly used to describe the work to be done, often in terms of the standards of materials and workmanship required, specification writing skills are also required for drafting strategic and project briefs and for statements of employer’s requirements under design and build procurement arrangements. In one form or another, therefore, specifications form part of the contract documentation for most projects. Together with the project drawings, various descriptive schedules and sometimes bills of quantities, they provide tendering contractors with a complete and accurate picture of the work required. 1.2 Uses of a specification 1 Pre-tender stage  For small projects, the specification and accompanying drawings form the  basis on which the builder prepares his estimate.  For larger projects, the specification supplements the drawings in providing the information on which the quantity surveyor bases his bills of quantities. 2 Contract stage  For ‘without quantities’ contracts, the specification is usually a contract document, carrying the importance attached to any contract document.  For ‘with quantities’ contracts, the specification is not usually a contract document unless it is incorporated into the bills of quantities. It is therefore important, particularly where bills of quantities make reference to the specification, that the specification should form an integral part of the bill. 3 Building stage  For contracts let both ‘with quantities’ and ‘without quantities’, the specification is the major source of information for the quality of materials and workmanship required. It will therefore be used by the contractor, architect, engineer and/or clerk of works as the definitive quality control document.  In addition, for ‘without quantities’ contracts the specification together with the schedule of rates is the basis for valuing interim payments.  Contract documentation: Specifications Paper 1434 Page 4 4 Final account stage For ‘without quantities’ contracts, the specification together with the schedule of rates is the basis for valuing variations and settling the final account. 1.3 The specification and the contract drawings The purpose of the specification is to amplify the information shown on the contract drawings so that all concerned can clearly understand what the designer requires.  Note that some specification information may be given in the form of notes on the drawing, eg levels, figured dimensions, and details of some materials, and it is  pointless to repeat this in the written specification. It is plainly impossible to show absolutely everything on the drawings – such as the precise details of how materials are to be jointed or fixed, or the standard of workmanship required. However, this information is important both for pricing and for quality control and so must be given in some other form. Remember that the main purpose of the written specification is to supplement and complement the drawn information, not to revise or supplant it. The drawings and specification together  provide the full extent of the work to be done and the standards the contractor is required to achieve. It is therefore important that:  The drawings and specification are complete but without excessive duplication.  The drawings and specification do not contradict each other.  The specification writer knows exactly what is required. This demands a clear understanding of construction technology – both construction materials and the way in which buildings fit together – as well as a clear insight into the designer’s intentions.  The information is presented clearly and unambiguously. 1.4 Types of specification There are many ways in which materials or workmanship may be specified, any or all of which may be used in a project specification. The following types are common. 1 Performance specification Here it is the results to be achieved that are specified, rather than the means by which the results are to be achieved. Performance specifications are frequently used in mechanical and electrical services installations where the choice of equipment is left to the contractor provided that specific performance standards are achieved. eg: ‘Roof insulation is to provide a U value of not less than …’ The main advantage  here is that contractor choice is maximised and the contractor has the opportunity to use his skills and expertise to identify the ‘best value’ option. The major disadvantage  is that the designer may want to be more specific about the type of material to be used. The development of performance specifications is considered in more detail in Section 4.


Jul 23, 2017
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