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Topic: Specifications for small firms 

1.  Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-03-2017 09:46
What do you use for specifications for your firm? How well does it fit for your work? And is it worth the money?

Marika Snider AIA
Ohio History Connection
Columbus OH

2.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-04-2017 17:29
We have developed a set of master specs over yours, specifically suited to our small residential practice. We use the CSI divisions as a framework and guide, but we don't use the famous 3-part format because it would make the document too long. If one of our small contractors saw a spearlike that, he would double or trip[le his price. and might not take the job because it would be too scary.

Also, long, fancy specs are too much for inexperienced clients to plough through, and we really do want them to read them before they sign a contract!  

Additionally, we tend to use direct, simple declarative sentences without too much passive construction. If the spec is an instruction to the contractor, it should sound like we are telling him what to do.

Bressack & Wasserman Architects
751 Southampton Drive
Palo Alto CA 94303 
ph: 650 321-2871  
fx:  650 321-1987 

3.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-05-2017 17:40

We have used SpecText, MasterSpec, and BSD SpecLink. Our guys like SpeckLink. This summer we sent about a third of the firm to Atlanta for training. Everyone finds it easy to use and no complaints from clients or contractors on content.

Dennis J. Hall, FAIA, FCSI
HALL a|e|c PA
Charlotte, NC

Dennis Hall FAIA
HALL a/e/c PA (HALL)
Charlotte NC

4.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-06-2017 17:34

I was going to recommend "SpexPlus", but when I went to get the link to post, learned that it has been permanently closed and absorbed into the Arcom Borg.

It was a pretty straightforward set of specs, free to download, easy to read, totally non-automated for editing; edit by subtracting, but not that much to discard.  Glad to have my latest download from mid-summer 2017

The webpage --   http://www.spexplus.net/    --- says  "SpexPlus™ has been retired. Please try MasterSpec Small Project® for free on SpecBuilder."   I looked there, and didn't find any easy path to learning how to use said product for free permanently.

Comments about the referenced Arcom offering might be interesting.

Disclosure:  In the past, a MasterSpec user; I've looked into the SpecLink, etc. products but never felt moved to make the investment.

Joel Niemi AIA
Joel Niemi Architect
Snohomish, WA

5.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-10-2017 00:49

✔️ Your post was very helpful. Just did a search for SpexPlus and found a zipped folder with many common specifications. Thanks for the tip. For my projects I try to create performance specs as notes, not the 3-part format.

Rex Prater AIA
BALANCE architecture + design, PC
Eugene OR

6.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-11-2017 17:30
I too have the Epson WF-7620.  I do all of my in house printing on 12" X 18" sheets - half size.  Very affordable and prints with the click of a button!

Edward Shannon AIA
Des Moines IA

7.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-06-2017 14:29
Most commendable, Judith Wasserman!  I strive to do the same: To simply say what I want to see, in the most concise language possible.  I particularly appreciate your avoiding the passive voice. Let's not allow the language of law to smother the straightforward speech of building.  The shorter the spec, the more likely it will be read and followed, that's what I say.

Ronald Berlin, AIA
Ronald Berlin Architect, PC
245 Jefferson Road
Princeton, NJ  08540-3417
By appointment only
T:  609.921.1800
F:  609.921.8484
E:  ronald@ronaldberlin.com

8.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-04-2017 17:33
We use a +/- 20 page specification that captures what we consider to be important information. We have minimized boiler-plate information while keeping in those items that seem to come up on a regular basis. Very little of our work is for public entities. 

Robert C. Foss, AIA
Clement Foss Architects
2709 South MacDill Avenue
Tampa, FL 33629
Ph: 813 831 3223

9.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-04-2017 18:46

We like BSD Speclink-E – it is much easier to use than the old Masterspec – you are choosing what you want in the project rather than trying to take out everything that you don't want. When you select products in Part 2 of the Spec, it automatically selects relevant portions of Parts 1 & 3. You can also create Short Form Specs and Abbreviated Specs when appropriate, and then take them into Long Form later, if needed, etc.


I believe they offer a free trial as well. If you want to use it long term, it is a subscription model, and you can share licenses in your office, so you don't have to buy a license for everyone.


Worth checking it out... Here's the link: http://www.bsdsoftlink.com/products/speclink-e


Andrew F. Cronan, AIA, LEED AP

Senior Vice President



4350 New Town Avenue, Suite 101

Williamsburg, VA 23188

o: 757.220.0220  m: 757.817.1889



Email Signature



10.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-05-2017 07:08
For all small projects, we put all the specifications right on the drawings. We have developed some standard language and details.

We use Masterspec for projects where a separate document is warranted.

John A. Feick, AIA, CSI, LEED AP
224 East Water Street
Sandusky, Ohio 44870
419-625-2554 (w)
419-656-3017 (c)

11.  RE: Specifications for small firms

Posted 10-07-2017 16:26
Hello, SPP Folks ---
For my modest projects (mostly residential, for middle-class people), sheet notes usually work well.  If space allows, they all go on the first sheet.
1.    Site / Foundation:
Whether 1 combined sheet or 2 separate ones, Site & Foundation notes are "local" to their own fields.  Foundation guys always like to have their own sheet.
2.    Framing:
Wood info., incl. my notes on cross-grain shrinkage, go on the first sheet of Plan/s, and/or at the 3/4" Section/s, w/ a prominent reference-note at the Plans.
3.    Others:
Located to suit.
Where "Specs" are spread-out, a note at the first sheet makes that clear.
These are hand-"block-letter"ed onto the sheet.  In the late '80s, I started using stick-on, photo-copied plastic title-block labels on my yellow-trace originals.  Biiiig mistake...  Years later, a Client wanted some more prints.  So, I pulled-out the 18"x24" sheets, and --- Wow!!  The sheets were badly rippled at the title-blocks, proudly showing-off their very different coefficients of expansion, compared to the title blocks.
So --- 
The "best" prints I could get were run by feeding-in the binder-edge first, saving the mess for the "end" of the print.  That cured that idea.
Thanks ---
william j. devlin aia, inc.,
Springfield, MA