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Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.



Specifications are written instructions which supplement the drawing to describe the
complete technical requirements of the work or Specifications are the written requirements
for a material, product, or service for a proposed project, like a building, bridge or machine.
They define the quality of materials and workmanship required by the client. In general, the
drawings show what is to be done whereas the specifications state how it is to be
accomplished and the results to be obtained.
Principles of Good Specification Writing
Specifications should be written in short concise sentences in the simplest style possible.
Unfamiliar words, having more than one meaning, unusual technical and trade expressions
should be avoided. Compound sentences are better converted into separate sentences to
avoid misplaced or omitted punctuation marks, which can sometimes change the meaning
of a sentence completely.
Summary on the principles of specification writing

The principles of specification writing may be summarized as follows. ,

1. Make a clear, concise analysis of the job requirements as to the general

conditions, type of construction, and quality of workmanship.

2. Analyze each type of construction to be covered in the technical provisions to

determine the type of specifications to be used

3. Outline the requirements to be included in each section of the specifications,

coordinating the subject matter with the drawings and other contact

4. write each section concisely using short sentences and simple composition

5. use words in their exact meaning

6. Make each requirement definite and complete

7. Give direction, never suggestions

8. Do not specify impossibilities

9. Avoid conflicting requirements

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
10. Give no information which is unnecessary for the preparation of bids and
accomplishment of the work.

11. Specify standard sizes and patterns whenever possible

12. Do not repeat information given on the drawings

13. Do not repeat a thing once stated

14. Minimize the use of cross references

15. Do not impose harsh and unfair conditions on the contractor

16. Never conceal hide suppress or cover up difficulties or hazards from the contractor

17. Based all requirements on properties which can be measured and describe the tests
to be used in measuring them.

Purpose of giving Specifications

 The cost of a unit quantity of work is governed by its specifications.

 Specification of a work is required to describe the quality and quantity of different

materials required for a construction work and is one of the essential contract

 This also specifies the workmanship and the method of doing the work. Thus
specification of a work serves as a guide to a supervising staff of a contractor as well
as to the owner to execute the work to their satisfaction.

 A work is carried out according to its specification and the contractor is paid for the
same. Any change in specification changes the tendered rate.

 As the rate of work is based on the specification, a contractor can calculate the rates
of various items of works in tender with his procurement rates of materials and labor.
Thus tender rate without specification of works is baseless, incomplete and invalid.

1.1.1 Types of Specifications

There are four methods of specifying. There is no defined rule for using one method over
another or about combining methods, but care should be taken to avoid redundancy or
contradictions. The four methods are:

Q Descriptive
Q Performance

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
Q Reference Standard
Q Proprietary

A. Descriptive Specifications

Under this method of specifying the exact properties of the materials and methods of
installation are described in detail without using proprietary or manufacturer's names.
Descriptive specifications are commonly used for products for which no standards exist, on
projects where using proprietary names is restricted, and in situations where the
Architect/Engineer want to exercise tight control over the specified work.

Advantages to using descriptive specifications:

Q Descriptive specifications specify exactly what the design intends.

Q They are applicable to all conditions, methods or situations of a project.
Q They are applicable to all sizes and types of projects.
Q They permit free competition because they do not restrict the use of specific
products or manufacturers.
Disadvantages of descriptive specifications:

Q They require the specifier to take special care in describing the design intent in
order to achieve the desired results.
Q Descriptive specifications tend to take up more space because they require
more verbiage than other methods.
Q They may be more time consuming than other methods to create and write.
Q They are being used less often as more complete reference standards are
being developed and implemented.

B. Performance Specifications

Under this method the required end results are specified along with the criteria by which
the performance will be judged and the method by which it can be verified. The contractor
is free to choose the materials and methods that comply with the performance
specification. They are generally used to encourage the use of new and innovative
techniques that may lead to more economical construction. They are also used to
supplement other specification methods.

Advantages to using performance specifications:

o Only the end result or design intent is specified, this gives the Contractor
flexibility in selecting and applying products.
o They permit free competition.
o They can be applicable in all types and sizes of projects.

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
o Performance specifications delegate the technical responsibilities to the
construction industry, where the Contractor instead of the
Architecture/Engineering firm is responsible for the results.
Disadvantages to using performance specifications:

o They can be time consuming to produce and may result in long, detailed
o They are more difficult to enforce than other methods of specifying.
o They may be too elaborate for simple or minor projects.
o Performance specifications delegate the technical responsibilities to the
construction industry, where the Contractor instead of the
Architecture/Engineering firm is responsible for the results. (This is both an
advantage and disadvantage because it depends who wants certain
responsibilities and control.)

C. Reference Standard Specifications

Under this method reference is made to an established standard defined by associations

very knowledgeable about a certain part or phase of construction. Reference standard
specifications are used for "commodity" products in the marketplace, where brand names
are not important.

Advantages to using reference standard specifications:

o The standard is usually widely known and accepted by the industry.

o They do not limit competition.
o They dramatically shorten the length of specifications.
Disadvantages to using reference standard specifications:

o There may be no appropriate standard to reference, because standards are

written for the most commonly used and generally available products.
o Standards generally refer to the minimum requirements.
o The standard may become obsolete or out-of-date, because of advances and
changes in technology and the creation of new products.
o They require a lot of research and care in use.
o They must be incorporated properly, including all supplementary information.

D. Proprietary Specifications

Under this method the actual brand names, model numbers and other proprietary
information is specified. They are primarily used for private commercial projects where the

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
Owner knows what products they want. There are two types of proprietary specifications,
closed and open. The primary difference between the two types concerns substitutions.

Closed: Closed specifications generally prohibit substitutions. One or more products are
specified, and no substitutions will be considered.

Open: Open specifications permit substitutions. One or more products are specified, but
other manufacturers will be considered. It is necessary to specify the process and criteria
the alternate manufacturers will be judged by.

Advantages to using proprietary specifications:

o They allow for close control of product selection.

o The drawings can be more complete and more detailed because they can be
prepared based on precise information from the selected manufacturer.
o The specification can be shorter.
o They simplify the bidding by narrowing competition and eliminating product
pricing as a major variable.

Disadvantages to using proprietary specifications:

o They reduce the competition.
o They may specify products the Contractor is not familiar with or has had little
experience with.
o Care should be taken to assure no error is made when specifying model
numbers or product designations.


Quantity surveying is a term or processes used in the construction industry to take

measurements of civil works, prepare specifications, and estimate the cost of works either
for each trade of work or for the whole project.

The following tasks are covered in quantity surveying

1) Preparation of specification
2) Taking measurements of civil works (Taking off quantities and preparing BOQ)
3) Preparation of approximate (preliminary) cost estimate at the very early
stage of the project
4) Preparation of detail cost estimate at different stages (taking as built
measurements and preparing payment certificates or approval of payment
certificates prepared by Taking measurements)

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
5) Preparation of tender documents and examining tenders
6) Preparation of schedule of prices to negotiate with pre-qualified bidders (labor
rates, Material)
7) Determination of values of works (executed works) and preparation of payment
8) Preparation of final accounts on completion of all of the works.
9) Valuation of property.

Specification Worksheet (BOQ form)

It is the format which is used in a bill of quantity to list (include) a short description of the
specification along with its measuring unit, quantity and unit prices to determine the total
cost for each trade of item.

Item No
Description unit QTY Unit Amount
Price (Total price)
1.1 Excavation to remove top soil to a depth M2 140.00 11.13 1,558.23
of 20cm
1.2 Excavation in bulk the expansive soil to a M3 70.00 46.23 3,236.12
depth of 50cm

There are four clearly defined steps in preparation of Bill of Quantities:

I. Taking off III. Abstracting
II. Squaring IV. Writing the final Bill of Quantity
Taking off

This is the process of preparing a detailed list of all labor and materials necessary for the
work and entering the items on properly dimensioned paper. The standard form used for
entering the dimensions taken or scaled from drawings to determine the accurate quantity
in each trade of work, except reinforcement steel, is called take off sheet or dimension
paper. The dimension paper used for taking off is usually double - ruled.

Column 1 is used for stating the number of times occurs and is called the timesing

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
Column 2 is called dimension column as it is used to enter the dimensions of the items of
works. The dimensions are entered in the order indicated below: Length, Width, Height or

Column 3 is called squaring column. The stated dimensions in column 2 are multiplied to
determine the quantity of the work either in ml. m2. M3 or in Pcs. or No.

Column 4 is called description column and description of the work item is briefly stated. A
separate sheet (Bar Schedule) is used to prepare reinforcement quantities as shown below.


The dimensions entered in Column 2 are squared or cubed as the case may be multiplied
by the timesing factor, and the result entered in Column 3. This task is called squaring. All
squared dimensions should be carefully checked by another person before abstracting. and
if correct the item should be ticked with led.


The squared dimensions are transferred to abstract sheets and all similar dimensions are
collected in the same category to obtain the total quantity of each item.

Writing the Final Bill

After the abstract sheets have been completed and checked, the final bill of quantity is
written. The dimensions are copied from the abstracts. The description of each item in the
final BoQ should be short, precise and descriptive as per the specification.

Basic Principles in Taking Off

1. Drawings shall be fully understood and clearly detailed.

1. During discrepancies in detailing, dimensioning or if missing items exist obtain
clarification from the designer.
1. The BOQ shall accurately represent the works to be executed
2. There shall be the understanding that measurements are taken to the nearest cm
3. Built items shall generally include all possible entrants like labor, materials (including
storing, loading, unloading and handling), fixing use of plant and equipment, wastage

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
of materials, equipment; which will result in a better process for establishing prices
and profit.

4. There shall be understanding that there is a standard paper to carry out

measurements of civil works, namely take off sheet or dimension paper, bending
schedule and specification worksheet.
5. Prior knowledge of the regulations is necessary (For E.g. roofing is measured in
horizontal projection).
8. Measurements of civil works shall be carried out in such a way that it can be easily
Checked and audited.

Types of Taking Off

Mensuration - the calculation of geometric quantities such as length, area and volume,
from dimension and angles that are already known.

Centre line method-suitable only when the cross sections of all walls are symmetrical, in
this method center line length is found and same is used for taking off quantities (therefore
only width and depth vary).



The following specifications and methods of measurement are provided to guide the
quantity surveyor in the preparation of quantities for a building project. A typical building
project will have the following work items.

1 Excavation and. earth work
2 Concrete Works
3 Masonry work
1 Concrete Works
2 Masonry Works
3 Roofing
4 Carpentry and joinery
5 Metal Works
6 Finishing
7 Glazing

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
8 Painting
9 Sanitary installation
10 Electrical installation
11 Fence work


Any structure below the ground floor slab level including the basement, retaining
wall, ground slab, grade beam and foundation is called a substructure. In most of the
cases, substructure work can be categorized as follows:

o Excavation and earth work

o Concrete work
o Masonry work

1. Excavation and Earthworks

What types of works are included in excavation and earthworks?
A. Site clearance

Carbonations elements are not good in concrete, steel and timber works. In soils under
structures even 5% of these elements will damage the structure. Therefore, these materials
(including trees. bushes and the top 20 to 30cm soil), termite hills, any other obstruction,
too have to be cleared. A working space of 1m is required on each side. It is sometimes
necessary to prepare separate specification for obstructions (demolition works) because
reusable items like doors and windows are there.

B. Excavation (bulk excavation)

Excavation to get reduced levels of every structural element below the ground level
is called bulk excavation. They are subdivided as follows depending on the
subsurface condition.

 Ordinary soil with boulders and without boulders and can easily be removed
by shovel.
 Weathered rock --it can be divided easily without blasting
 Rock bedded rocks that cannot be dug without blasting (requires using
Note: - Working space for bulk excavation is 25 cm (not used for shallow
masonry) depth of excavation less than 30 cm -measured per m 2, depth> 30
cm per m3

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
C. Pit excavation
Pit excavation in different types of soil at a depth of -----m from reduced level to
foundation or pad. Working space for pit excavation is 25 cm and Measured in
D. Trench excavation

E. fill/Embankment

This shall be measured in m 3 of net volume to be filled. Fill is required because the
reduced level of every structural element above the structure has to be covered.
Excavation and embankment should not be added at a time in computing their
volume, because their costs are different. The major consideration under
embankment is compaction). Compaction is done usually at 20 cm lift thickness. The
subdivisions under fill are:

 Back fill: - filling by using the excavated soil but by removing, coarse
 Borrow fill: -filling by using fill material from another place when there is of
fill or when better quality material is required.

F. Disposal - cleaning the building area including cart away.

G. Sundry items - application of termite proof solution, providing hard coring,

dust blinding, etc. are itemized as sundry items; measured in m 2

2. Concrete works -Cast in situ concrete shall be measured by volume. Concrete

ancillaries - include windowsills, lintels, expansion joints, and permanent and
temporary embedded materials. It is measured in-ml or enumerated.
Grades of Concrete
 C5 - lean concrete, to protect the structural concrete from damage.
 C15- for totally supported structural elements
 C20- used for slabs; mix proportion is1:2:4
 C25 - Commonly used grade of structural Concrete; mix proportion is 1:2:3
 C30 -Used for chemical stores and nuclear plants
Formwork - measure in m2. A temporary structural element, which supports slabs, beams in
casting concrete. It shall be designed and erected to safely support. Vertical and lateral
loads that might be applied until such load can be supported by the concrete structure.
Period of removal (minimum):
1. Vertical formwork to columns. walls and beams:16hrs
2. Soffits formwork to slab: 2l days
1. Props to cantilever slabs: 14- days
3. Soffits formwork to beams: 21 days
Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
2. Props to cantilever beams: 14 days
Reinforcement -The reinforcement bars are tied by 06 mm mild steel wire and
measured in kg.

3. Masonry Works: -Masonry works are works that are executed by lying building material
units of specified dimension through a binding material such as mortar. Stone obtained
from quarries shall be hard and sound, free from vents cracks, fishers or other defects that
will adversely affect strength or appearance. Stone for various masonry works shall be
selected and shaped as follows:
a. stone for facing works shall generally be selected for consistency in grain, color and
texture, throughout the work '
b. stone for below ground work shall be chiseled from natural stone
Stone wall is measured by volume whereas stone pavement is measured by area, specifying


1. Concrete works
a. Concrete- mostly as discussed in substructure part
b. formwork: Specify the type of material used and where to use (zigba or steel)
c. Reinforcement: Differentiation is made as to the diameters and where used
(Sub and super structure) and Weight per unit length for 06 is 0.222 kg any other
diameter d2 with weight per unit length W2:
W2 = (d22/62) 0.222
2. Masonry works - measured by volume
- shall be built in stone sizes of not less than 300mm per course (one-lay) and 400 mm
wide per stone
3. Hollow and solid concrete blocks -measured by area specifying the thickness. Blocks
shall be manufactured from cement, aggregates, red ash. Pumice with no fine volcanic dust.
Trial mixes shall be prepared to attain the average minimum compressive strength after
casting and curing for 28 days. There are different classes of HCB:
- Class A == 42 kg/ cm2 (for light loads)
- Class B = 35 kg /cm2 (for external walls)
- Class C = 20 kg/cm2 (for partition walls)
- Class AA= 70 kg/cm2 (for load bearing sub structural works)
- Class A-AA= 50 kg/cm2 (for load bearing super structural works)

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
Class AA and A-AA shall be obtained from 01 aggregate not from pumice or red ash.
Blocks shall be uniform in texture, size, and shape and free from any cracks and defects and
also the surface of blocks shall have a good key for plaster and rendering. The standard
thicknesses of HCBs are 1O cm. 15 cm. and 20cm.

4. Bricks-measured by area specifying the thickness. Bricks are fire resistant, watertight and
can also resist compressive action of up to 50 Mpa Bricks can be used for external, internal,
retaining and load bearing walls. Bricks shall be well made and adequately burnt, free from
cracks and particles of lime. Bricks exposed to weathering shall be selected for least in
absorption, high durability, uniform in color and texture. The thicknesses of bricks are 25cm
(for double layer) and 12 cm (for single)

5. Finishing work
a) Plastering and Pointing works
The ingredients are:
- Cement (ordinary Portland cement), lime
- Gypsum (such as plaster of Paris)
- Aggregate (fine or crushed aggregates), water

Surfaces to receive plaster, pointing or screed shall be thoroughly clean and wetted. The
surface should be raked out to a minimum depth 10 mm to form proper key (if the
thickness of plastering is greater than 2.5cm, it may crack) and the surface should be
rubbed with cement slurry (cement+ water).

b) Plastering
- Plaster and pointing works shall be measured by area and Internal and external works
shall be measured separately
The following shall be understood as included: preparing background hacking out joints,
grouting jointing recessing etc.
c) Floor and Wall Finish
Terrazzo tiles: - used for floor finish and skirting and measured by area

- shall be pre-cast or cast in situ elements

- shall have a minimum topping of two parts of marble or granite chipping from an
approved quality with one part cement
- the minimum grading of the chip shall be 5mm
- shall be applied on to 3 cm thick cement screed bedding (specified thickness)
Marble tiles
- shall be in accordance with quality, color and texture as shown (specified)
- shall be straight edged and smooth surfaced

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
- cement mortar backing for walls and cement screed bedding for floors
Ceramic and mosaic tiles
- Ceramic tiles shall be glazed type of approved color, texture and size
- Ceramic tiles shall be 6mm thick for walls and not less than 15mm for floors

PVC tiles
- Usually thermoplastic
- The tiles and skirting shall be resistant to household oil and acids
- The glue (adhesive) for fixing PVC tiles and skirting shall be in accordance with
manufacturer's instruction
- Usually 2mm thick PVC tiles and 48 mm cement screed is used


Can be made from marble, Terrazzo, concrete. Stone etc and shall be laid as per the drawing
Stone and concrete pavements: - dressed or roughly dressed sand stone or precast concrete
shall be laid on compacted fill of 10 mm sand or red ash bedding and joints pointed with
Method of measurement
The following shall be measured by area specifying material, size and thickness all finishes to
floors and walls except skirting, copping and cills.
The following shall be measured in length by specifying material, size and thickness
Skirting, risers, treads, sills and copings

Painting works
Method of Measurement
- Painting shall be measured by area
- Internal and external surfaces shall be measured separately

Measurement of Plumbing Installation

Plumbing installations in domestic buildings involve a number of different systems
associated by the supply, distribution and disposal of water within and out of a building -
above the ground and below the ground.

Order of Measurement
1. Connection to water authority’s main and all work up to boundary of site
2. Underground service and rising main from site boundary up to cold water
storage tank
3. Branches to rising main
4. Cold water storage tank or cistern and associated work
5. Down services with branches
6. Sanitary appliances such as sinks, wash basins, baths and water closets
7. Discharge pipes – waste, soil and vent pipes

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.
8. Any other work connected with the plumbing installation
The order is following the flow of water as it enters and is distributed around the building,
and collected after being used.

Pipe work
Pipes are measured in linear meters over all fittings and branches, stating the type, nominal
size and the method of jointing and fixing. Fittings are enumerated and measured as extra-
over the pipe work on which they occur.

Sanitary Appliances
This includes washbasins, urinals, baths, shower trays and sinks. These appliances are
enumerated giving details in the description of their type, size, capacity and method of
Waste pipe work
It embraces all the pipe work and fittings that are associated with the disposal of used or
soiled water, and vent pipe. The following diameters of pipe are required for the different

Washbasin -------------- 32 mm dia.

Bath/shower/sink -------- 40 mm dia.

Water closet (WC) -------- 110 mm dia.

Waste pipe work is measured in linear meters, giving in the description details of the type
of the pipe, its nominal size, the method of jointing and the type of pipe brackets. Fittings –
elbows, tees and the like – are enumerated as extra-over the pipe work on which they

Drainage work
It is the disposal of used and surface water from a building to a point of disposal or

Drains include excavation of pipe trenches, drain pipes and fittings. Pipes are measured
over all fittings and branches in linear meters, stating the kind of pipe work, the nominal
size and the method of jointing. Pipe fittings, such as bends and branches, are enumerated
extra-over the pipe on which they occur. The excavation, concrete work, brickwork and
rendering associated with manholes and septic tanks are measured in accordance with the
rules for the appropriate work section.

Compiled by: Kedir E.
Contract, specification and quantity survey handout 2009 E.C.

Measurement of Electrical Installation

Electricity can only be transmitted through a conductor when there is a complete circuit
from the source, via a conductor, back to the source. Each conductor cable contains a ‘live’
wire carrying the power to an appliance, a ‘neutral’ wire carrying the power back to the
source and an earth wire which reduces the risk of shock by carrying the current to a circuit
breaker or the ground in the event of a short-circuit. The conductor used for the domestic
supplies is copper wire. Cables are identified by the cross sectional area of the conductors
and this is expressed in mm2. Cabling: - Conduit and cable are each measured separately in
linear meters stating in the description the type and size of cabling. Switches, Socket
outlets and Light Points: - As a separate enumerated item socket outlet, light points
(luminaries) and other accessories should be enumerated in pcs. Appliances: -Separately
fused circuits will be necessary for the cooker, immersion heater and electric heating units,
and are enumerated items.

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