Construction Specifications Practice Guide
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Construction Specifications Practice Guide


Successful and cost-effective construction relies on appropriate communication of a project design by the architect/engineer (A/E) to the contractor and other project participants. From project conception through design and construction to facility management, effective communication of the project requirements depends largely on having complete and coordinated construction documents.

The responsibilities of the participants comprising the design team are determined by the project delivery method used. In the design-bid-build, design-negotiate-build, construction management, and owner-build methods of project delivery, the A/E executes the design phases and delivers to the owner the documents according to the owner-A/E agreement. Design-build project delivery differs in that the A/E is employed by the design-builder, and the design-builder executes both the design and construction.

The term A/E will be used to identify the design professional responsible for the project design and construction documents, regardless of the project delivery method used. This practice guide is based primarily on the traditional design-bid-build delivery method and variations are indicated for other delivery methods.

The term contractor might also refer to a construction manager as contractor (CMc) or a design builder. Many product decisions are made throughout the development of the contract documents. Product representatives can be a part of those decisions by providing technical assistance to the A/E, owner, or contractor in the early stages of a project and continuing the assistance through the development of the contract documents. Product representatives should be familiar with the overall concepts of drawings and specifications and understand the implications of contract modifications.

Thorough knowledge of all aspects of the represented product is essential when assisting the A/E with the development of the documents used for construction. Product representatives should present themselves to the A/E as technical experts and resources on the proper use and incorporation of reference standards, specifications, testing and certification, and applicable codes.

The ability to review documents and advise the A/E on a cost-effective method of installation, or a new product that would contribute to the project’s success, is a valuable service and can build credibility.

Construction documents define the rights of, responsibilities of, and relationships among the parties. Of these documents, the Agreement and the General Conditions of the Contract have been developed by professional associations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC), and the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) into standard documents.

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