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Outline specification contents

  • 1.  Outline specification contents

    Posted 09-16-2021 03:34 AM
    Edited by Sathesh Kumar Sundararajan Intl. Assoc. AIA 09-16-2021 03:41 AM
    Dear Architects,

    I have a doubt on what goes into as content for an Outline Specification?.
    1. is it similar to Performance criteria - Handrail to withstand 110kg point load..... etc....etc?
    2. a material and its finish identified as per ASTM standards to arrive at cost, like handrail from Sch 40 seam pipe with G90 galvanization coating as per ASTM-!!!?
    3. simply list the materials with just common description? Steel handrail galvanized?\

    Kindly advise. if there is any acceptable format for Outline specifications to refer.

    Thanks and regards
    Sathesh

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    satheshkumar sundararajan
    sr.architect
    Kuwait
    ------------------------------
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  • 2.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 09-17-2021 06:23 PM
    Outline specifications need to provide the minimal information that is necessary in order to develop estimates of probable construction cost, schedules, and value analysis. They include information about manufacturers, materials, equipment, components, and accessories.

    Using your handrail example, if the contractor is delegated to design the handrails, then your #1 example is all that is required with some material limitations. In most cases, your #3 example is sufficient. However, if there are unique characteristics, those should be included since they may have an impact on cost.

    Refer to CSI's Construction Specifications Practice Guide, 2nd Edition​, for more information about preparing outline specifications.​

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    Ronald Geren, AIA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
    Principal
    RLGA Technical Services
    Scottsdale AZ
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  • 3.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 26 days ago
    Returning to the original question, in my 20+ years of work as a specifier, I heard the term "outline specifications" used by many people to mean different things.  I think what is usually meant is some sort of compilation of information about materials, systems and assemblies that will go into a building, as defined rather early in a project, that can be printed on, say, 50-150 pages rather than on a couple of reams of paper. Therefore the real question is what type of documentation is appropriate for a particular phase within a project.

    I am a firm believer that during conceptual and schematic design phases, the design team is not ready to make meaningful decisions in terms of the information that would be organized by MasterFormat (i.e. specifications sections organized in divisions to describe "work products").  For that reason I almost never used the mini-sections organized by MasterFormat that are what is properly understood as outline specifications.

    Instead, I successfully prepared "Preliminary Project Descriptions" (PPDs) using UniFormat structure to describe the systems and assemblies that were being considered by the designers.  I found it very easy and direct to talk to teams about the major and minor elements of their design, then write up each one in terms of three things: 1. Terminology with basic description; 2. Performance requirements; 3. List of components.   When we did not have that much detail we just left it out.  The master document I prepared served as an excellent checklist for discussions with a design team to make sure they had thought about all the elements that would be necessary for a complete building that met their design intent.   Listing assemblies by element also offered a clear way of introducing alternate assemblies into the document.  UniFormat was actually developed by estimators many years ago, so they should be able to develop early estimates using this type of documentation.  Over the years, I found that Construction Managers who knew what they were doing understood, and sometimes preferred, this format.   There were a number of projects where we even used it at Design Development just by updating the elements and adding information, such as Basis of Design products, to each one.

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    Margaretha Eckhardt AIA, CSI, CCS, LEED AP
    Waltham MA
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  • 4.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 09-18-2021 03:19 AM
    Edited by Sathesh Kumar Sundararajan Intl. Assoc. AIA 09-18-2021 03:43 AM
    Thanks lot Ar.Ronald for the response.

    ------------------------------
    satheshkumar sundararajan
    sr.architect.
    Kuwait
    ------------------------------

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  • 5.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 09-19-2021 12:59 PM
    Sathesh,
    I recommend starting to develop your outline specifications by determining who needs to know what and when. For some projects, the outline spec is simply an abbreviated version of Part 2 of a full specification and serves just the estimator as a one time deliverable. For other projects, the outline spec is an evolving record of project material design decisions.

    For larger projects with a multi-person design team, we use a cloud-based collaborative tool to develop the outline specs. The specs serve as a terminology or keynote coordination tool between the drawings and the (future full size) specifications. We share the outline spec with the designers; we all drop comments and questions into the worksheet which is organized by MasterFormat. From time to time, we issue a printout deliverable which goes to owners, CMs, and estimators.

    We avoid developing full size specs until at least 50% CD drawings; we prefer to go to around 75% or 80% drawings because before then writing specs is a waste of our time, and no one reads them. So our outline specs capture application, material, and manufacturer details adequate to serve as the basis for Guaranteed Maximum Price estimating and negotiations. Our goal is to be able to write 90% full size specs from the outlines. This often works - it depends on the project architects' and interior designers' willingness to use the system.

    Advantages: No one wants to read 500 pages of architectural specs, but they may read 40 or 50 pages. And going through the comments on an outline spec is easier than wading through 150 or 300 emails.

    In our construction environment (US public projects), we do not have to be highly detailed in outline specs regarding ASTM standards as our estimators assume them. We're more interested in contractor and owner signoff on selected manufacturers/products. For work in other countries, where EN, BS, and other standards may come in to play and products are more internationally sourced, reference standards may play a more important role.

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    Philip Kabza AIA
    Principal
    SpecGuy Specifications Consultants
    Mount Dora FL
    ------------------------------

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  • 6.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 30 days ago
    Thankyou Ar.Philip. for the support.

    ------------------------------
    satheshkumar sundararajan architect
    sr.architect
    pan arab consulting engineers
    kuwait kuwait
    ------------------------------

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  • 7.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 29 days ago
    I understand what Phil Kabza is saying about no one reading specs, it is truly a problem in our industry.  However, with a few early emails and conf calls we reinforce to the CM/GC that the spec is custom edited for this project and that we intend to enforce the requirements rigorously.  That usually gets their attention.

    We also find that CMs no longer estimate a project, they just bid what ever documents they have.  Certainly by the DD phase the CMs will solicit hard bids and those bids become the "estimate".  Often a GMP is based on DD level documentation.  Any subsequent addition or change in the documents, like a complete new spec section, will be taken by the bidders as a new requirement  and the price will going up.  The bidders (oops I mean estimators) will say they didn't know about the requirements for shop drawings and submittals, samples, mockups,  quality assurance, tolerances, reference standards, coordination, fabrication and similar information that comes only in a full length spec.

    Therefore, we prepare full length specs for the DD packages. We find that we spend less time in total compared to preparing an outline spec that doesn't get used in the CDs.  We get much better estimates and we minimize the pain from claimed scope increased when in reality the project just progressed from DDs to CDs.

    I am not saying this approach is right for everyone or every project.  We only deal with about 30 sections for the building enclosure and we ask for a load of special requirements, so perhaps that makes a difference between our approach and what is recommended by Mr Kazba.

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    David Altenhofen AIA
    Technical Director
    RWDI USA LLC
    Philadelphia PA
    ------------------------------

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  • 8.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 29 days ago
    Thanks Ar.David.

    ------------------------------
    satheshkumar sundararajan architect
    sr.architect
    pan arab consulting engineers
    kuwait kuwait
    ------------------------------

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  • 9.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 27 days ago
    In response to Mr. Kazba and Mr. Altenhofen, in managing my projects, I distinguish between laziness, negligence, incompetence, and outright deception and malfeasance in manipulating a contract for self-serving purposes.  As Mr. Altenhofen points out, there are relatively easy methods of dealing with the former by advising those participants how carefully the contract will be administered and adhered to.  Following through with strict adherence enforces all participants to comply.  Deception and manipulation are far more destructive and dangerous.  Those acts rely on the awareness and attention of the architect and CM to catch and prevent the deceivers from succeeding.  I once caught a subcontractor attempting to secretively ply the Owner with an adjusted bid that shopped the official low bidder.  When I firmly set the matter right, I realized a tremendous bonus later on that project when word had spread among the subcontractors that I had integrity and that I'd protected their private bid proposals, they went to extraordinary lengths to help me out in any way on that project when I had to make requests of them.  My advice is concentrate on developing ironclad specification contracts, enforce them by the book, and especially do not tolerate any deception.

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    Judd Allen Group
    5925 Walnut Drive
    Edina, MN 55436

    Judd Peterson, AIA Phone: 952-224-5050
    President Fax: 952-224-5051
    Email: jpeterson@juddallen.com
    ------------------------------

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  • 10.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 23 days ago
    According to the Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice, the purpose of Contract Documents is not to tell the Contractor how to build the building, but to convey the Architect's design intent. As a CCS you are already familiar with the four basis methods of specifying (conveying design intent):
    - Descriptive
    - Proprietary
    - Reference Standard
    - Performance

    Add the graphic or illustrative method (Drawings) and now you have all five methods. Whether you use a PPD organized by UniFormat, Outline Specifications, Short Form Specifications, or Long Form Specifications depends on the project delivery method, size, and complexity of the project. In the end, you must satisfy yourself that you have met the standard of care of conveying design intent. On some projects a PPD and hand sketches may be fine and on large projects I have seen design professionals fail to meet this standards using BIM and volumes of Specifications. It is not the quantity of words in the Specifications or the number of Sheets of Drawings in the Drawings Set that matters. It is the quality of the information not the quantity.



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    Dennis Hall FAIA,FCSI
    President
    HALL| AEC PA
    Charlotte NC
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  • 11.  RE: Outline specification contents

    Posted 21 days ago
    I agree with Dennis Hall that it is the quality of the specification and graphic information that is important, not the quantity.  Where performance expectations are critical, particularly in building enclosure components, it's necessary to include detailed descriptions of the design intent for the assembly and layering of the materials, with graphics correlated to specification, so that the performance expectations can be met.

    The necessity of understanding and showing the proper assembly, laps, and compatible seals is to ensure that the Contractor bids the correct assembly and the Owner and Architect are not confronted with claims for additional costs because the systems were not clear.  Again, I think it's important to make these expectations clear during DD Phase to head off any misunderstanding, faulty cost estimating, or worse, intentional malfeasance to take advantage of any lack of clarity in finalizing costs or failure to meet performance expectations when the project is complete.

    ------------------------------
    Judd Allen Group
    5925 Walnut Drive
    Edina, MN 55436

    Judd Peterson Phone: 952-224-5050
    Director of Building Science Email: jpeterson@juddallen.com
    ------------------------------

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