15 June 2015

Under-specifying - less is not always more

Singing Ringing Tree. A 3-metre tall
structure of stacked galvanized steel pipes.
(c) David Dixon
One of my favorite tales I use when teaching about specifications happened to me shortly after I took my first job as a specifier, at the University of Minnesota. Prior to taking this job, the sum total of my experience with specifications consisted of copying specifications onto drawing sheets. This activity was presented to me as little more than a mindless job, a necessary evil that was to be done as quickly as possible, with no explanation of what specifications are. As you might expect, there was no mention of CSI, MasterFormat, or SectionFormat.

This seminal event in my life as a specifier took place within a few weeks of starting my new job. It started with a phone call from one of the construction administrators.

"The contractor wants to know what kind of pipe we want for the bollards."

I didn't know, but I was sure it was in the specifications, so I responded, "It's in the specs, isn't it?" (Brilliant, don't you think?)