Specifications: A Starter Guide for Architects

In construction, a specification is a document detailing quality, standards, materials, and project completion. Primarily drafted by architects, engineers, and specification consultants (like us at SCLspec), specifications become part of contractual documents for contractors and contribute to handover information. Their significance in design and architecture is pivotal for effective communication between clients, designers, and contractors, ensuring accurate project information across timelines to mitigate risks.
When Specifications are Developed
Specifications take shape early in a project, aligning with the design brief in Concept and Design & Documentation stages. This early-stage specification aids client discussions, offering insights into overall project performance requirements. Traditionally written as one of the final items before tender issuance, current trends involve earlier specification writing in a project’s lifecycle, necessitating product suppliers’ early involvement to influence design specifiers’ choices.
Types of Specifications in Construction For a more in-depth exploration, head to our article on Types of Specifications. Three primary specification types in construction include:
  1. Performance Specification: Captures building, systems, and product requirements, such as acoustic, thermal, or structural criteria, in early project stages.
  2. Prescriptive Specification: Specifies standards, grades, and materials for component products.
  3. Proprietary Specification: Includes precise details like product range names, reference codes, and key properties selected from manufacturer choices.
The Importance of Specifications
Specifications in construction establish consistent expectations, contributing to project organisation and success. The inclusion of detailed information ensures construction accuracy. Specifications are crucial as they:
  • Provide clear instructions on project intent, performance, and construction.
  • Reference quality and standards.
  • Clearly define materials and manufacturers’ products.
  • Identify requirements for installation, testing, and handover.
Specifications play a critical role in the building and construction industry by defining standards, materials, and project performance. For suppliers seeking product specification, BCI’s LeadManager is a valuable tool for identifying key decision-makers and optimal outreach times in a project’s lifecycle.
Keen on delving deeper into specifications? Explore our resources covering different types, influences, and how-to guides on specification writing here.