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Xiaorui Xue

In chapter 14, the author give information about purpose and use of technical
specifications. The role of technical specification is part of contract document to
give all requirement to complete a project with drawing. It need to provide all
necessary information about project outside of drawing. The author gives a list or
examples. Then the author shows how different parties of a contract use
specification. Contractor use it to estimate cost in biding and a guideline to
construction. Owners use specification to know what they are buying, make sure the
project fit their preference and use a record to maintenance. Engineers may prepare
specifications, use specification to surveillance construction. General and
supplemental conditions define duties and responsibilities of owner, contractor and
engineers. Then the author give a list of key points that need to be mentioned in
general condition. He also points out that those documents need to be prepared by
experienced engineers. In the end, the author states that drawing and specification
have deep correlation. The author then gave us general examples about this topic.
First, engineers should use consistent terminology, provide no duplicate information,
give detailed description of materials and equipment and provide information that
need a lot of text description. Designers trends to draw first end write specification
in the end due to it is not possible to produce specification without a lot of drawing
and designers' preference. Specification always has higher power in court. It is ideal
to prepare drawing and specification concurrently. However, it is not common to do
so in real world. The author then gives a common approach to achieve a balance.
Engineers who involved project, engineers from same organization who are not
involved in that project, outside contractors and engineer who don' t know that
project or have little understand to it may write specification. The first kind is always
best. The second kind can be good due to their relative advantage in writing
specification. The third kind can be good if they are carefully managed and have
enough budget. The last kind should be avoided. The author also give a list of
qualities that is necessary to be a specifier. Author lists problems and disputes
about specification. Technical inaccuracy means data in specification is wrong and
deficiencies in product requirement. The author thinks this kind of problems is due
to nature of inaccuracy. Product substitution arise when engineers and contractors
choice different materials, even when clear policy is regarding product substitution.
Ambiguities and conflicts means there is different interpretation to the specification
between engineers and contractors. Courts always strongly against who prepared
the specification. Outcomes of this kind of problems are contractor require
clarification from engineer, contractor explain specification to their interest, both
parties are unaware of that problem and lead to an accident or no confliction at all.
Constructability means a result is hard to construct by common method, which may
induced by poor site investigation by bad engineers or surveyors. Unenforced
requirements means this target has no clear criteria. It is called opened target and
unbiddable. Since court is generally favor specifications more than code, engineers
should at least prepare them with equal effort. In real world, engineers always give
drawing more effort. The author also give his philosophy in working with all parties
in construction. He states that engineers should make not flaws in specification,
clearly define duties and responsibilities and state all minimum qualifications to
deal with situations that for public projects most competent contractor not get job,
the lowest one get. He states those are normal requirements from owners. In
addition, most contractors are good. To protect clients 'interest, it is important for
owners to share risk with contractors. It is conductive to lead to mutually acceptable
works. Risk shearing can be achieve by compensate loss of contractor due to
unexpected condition and put aside allowances in bid. The author then states what
fairness among all parties is. Engineers should make most of technical decision in
design phase, provide most cost-effective to designer, and not let contractors to do
too much design. Owner should pay engineers and contractor fairly and not change
their mind unless unavoidable. Even there is no problem about text in specification,
engineers may make technical problem. It is lead engineer' s duty of figure them
out. Author also provide six way to check them. In-house designers, lead engineers
and reviewers has responsibility to check for technical problem. There is also
typographical problem when people use specifications from other projects and fail
to check them carefully. It is lead engineers' responsibility and its consequence is
horrible. Contractors have the flexibility of choose their method to construct within
limitation from designers because it allows contractors to perform their special
advantage, stimulate innovation, decrease designer liability and make quality
control better. Designers should not make change in design in construction. It may
lead to higher cost and impact related work. It is designers' duty to choose material.
Most dispute in this area generate from "or equal" . It is not a solution to delete
those two words, which may lead lawsuit if requirement is vague. Designers should
give more detailed specifications to avoid problem. Engineers can ask contractors
and manufacturers to provide information of their product but engineers cannot do
this in favor of the certain contractor or manufacturer or put them in a position to
exclude them from biding or jeopardize their interest. Dimensional tolerance means
the allowable error in dimension of finished product. If it is too strict, it may not
influence biding and contractor may request relaxation during construction. This
request is always allowed. Degree of compliance means by how much a percentage
finish product has properties fit specified requirement. It is impractical to have
100% of compliance so there is a statistical quality control method to make a
project acceptable when it is lower than 100%. There is also minimum acceptance
criterion. When it is not met, a project is rejected, no matter what running average
is. Engineers now make a lot of specification in design and basically let contractor
act by them own, but engineers still allowed to direct the contractor due to there is
some decisions hard to be done in design. discretion from engineers should not
create now work, with in scope of contract, not influence contractor' s compensate.
This power should only be used when contractors are wrong. There is unknown
condition that affect or not effect design concept, effect construction working
environment, war. Unanticipated condition is what overlooked in design. They may
lead to higher cost and delay. They should be prepared in specification. Plan
quantity variation always influence cost when dimensions of a structure is not
known or subgrade condition is not dear. Act of gold is forces beyond control of
contractors that increase construction cost or delay construction. Contractors
should put this in their consideration and owner should compensate for that. Owner
may provide material and equipment due to limit of time or they can get them
cheaper than contractor can. Owner is responsible for what they provide, not
contractor. On-site safety means safety during construction, not for end users of
that structure. It is sole contractor' s duty to keep site safe but owner and engineers
always involved in law suit to figure out who is liable for damages. The author give
suggestion to keep site safe and provide what should be included in specification
regarding site safety.
In this two chapter, I most interest in the typical error in specifications. This kind of
error will generally lead to trouble. Company may loss money and engineers who
write those code may lost their job. I must be careful about this to make sure I am
not one of them.