Specification Writing Basics: A Quick Start Guide

In the realm of architectural practices, the role of specifications cannot be overstated. Even seasoned architects and practices can benefit from expert support in architectural specification writing, recognising these documents as vital components of any contractual agreement. We at SCLspec specialise in the development of architectural specifications, and while our advice is always to ‘ask the experts’, we recognise not every project needs a specification consultancy. So here are the basics.

The Basics for Self-Prepared Specifications

For those opting to handle specifications in-house, it’s imperative to delve into key considerations to ensure the efficacy and accuracy of the document. Here are some essential points to ponder when it comes to architectural specification writing:

  1. Adopt a Recognised Format

    Utilise established formats such as NATSPEC (Australia), Surespec (Australia), Masterspec (New Zealand), Masterformat (Middle East, USA, Canada) aligning with the local market standards. This ensures clarity and consistency in the documentation process.

  2. Integrate Standards and Codes

    Incorporate both local and international (where appropriate) standards and codes of practice, tailoring them to the specific project requirements. This step is fundamental for compliance and adherence to industry norms.

  3. Align with Contract Conditions

    Nominate terminology in harmony with the main contract conditions, ensuring a seamless integration of specifications within the broader contractual framework.

  4. Tailor to Procurement Routes

    Craft specifications that mirror the selected procurement route – whether it’s Design and Construct, Construction Management, Traditional, or other methodologies. This alignment optimises the document for the chosen project approach.

  5. Strategic Risk and Responsibility Allocation

    Ensure a correct alignment of risk and responsibility according to the chosen procurement method. This meticulous approach safeguards against potential disputes and ensures a clear delineation of roles.

  6. Utilise Baseline Specifications

    Leverage tried-and-tested baseline specifications containing the latest industry Standards and Codes. This not only expedites the drafting process but also enhances the overall quality of the specifications.

  7. Reflect Design Intent and Performance Requirements

    Articulate the design intent, performance requirements, product selection, and quality targets cohesively within the specification. This ensures that the document accurately captures the essence of the architectural vision.

  8. Implement Detailed Nomenclature and Coding

    Facilitate ease of reference by adopting detailed nomenclature and a coding system. This linkage between drawings and specifications streamlines communication and enhances clarity.

  9. Prioritise Document Identification and Issue Control

    Pay meticulous attention to document identification and issue control. This safeguards against confusion, ensuring that the latest revisions are consistently implemented.

  10. Harmonise with Other Consultant Documents
    Coordinate the specification seamlessly with other consultants’ documents to prevent duplication or conflicts. This collaborative approach ensures a cohesive and integrated project documentation set.
  11. Identify Bulk Purchasing Opportunities

    Uncover potential bulk purchasing opportunities in multi-site projects by adhering to common material palettes. This strategic approach can optimise costs and streamline procurement processes.

  12. Focus on Post-Contract Design Input

    Direct attention to elements requiring post-contract design input from contractors or specialists. This forward-thinking approach ensures that specifications are adaptable to evolving project needs.

  13. Engage with Industry for Practical Feasibility

    Liaise with industry stakeholders to ensure that the design remains practically achievable. This collaborative effort enhances the feasibility of the project while aligning specifications with real-world constraints.st

In the architectural landscape, the art of architectural specification writing is a nuanced skill that demands attention to detail and a comprehensive understanding of industry dynamics. As stewards of architectural excellence, architects must not only design spaces but also articulate the vision with precision in every specification.

Feeling uncertain about where to begin? Let us guide you on the path to architectural specification writing precision. Visit our Contact Us page to schedule a meeting with our team of Specification Consultants.

At SCLspec, precision is our promise. For over a decade, our team has been providing expert specification consulting services across Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.