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Engineering Construction Specifications The Road to Better Quality Lower Cost Reduced Litigation by Joseph Goldbloom
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Engineering Construction Specifications The Road to Better Quality Lower Cost Reduced Litigation by Joseph Goldbloom


There are two major areas of designed construction:

(1) Building (architectural) construction, whose design is performed and supervised by architects. This type of construction is sometimes referred to as vertical construction.

(2) Engineered construction, which this book is concerned with, includes the construction of bridges, highways, tunnels, dams, pipelines, airfields, rapid transit facilities, and other types of construction that utilize the designs of engineers.

This type of construction is generally referred to as heavy construction. When a construction contract is signed, the Specifications become the rule book that governs performance of the Work and controls the official relations between the Contractor, Owner, and Engineer. This book has been prepared for both the practicing engineer and the student of engineering. It is presented in two parts: Part I, Explaining Engineering Construction Specifications, is directed to the student.

It describes and explains the elements that make up the set of engineering construction specifications. Part I presents the "whys" and "wherefores" of the various requirements and instructions encountered in the Specifications. It also explains construction contracts and the relationship of the Plans and Specifications. Part II, Preparing and Presenting Engineering Construction Specifications, is devoted to the specification writer.

It presents guidelines and recommendations, "do's" and "don'ts," and pitfalls to be avoided in preparing Specifications. Among the items discussed are: the difference in responsibilities represented by "quality control" and "quality assurance"; identifying and controlling the risks in construction; full disclosure of known information; and the Engineer's responsibility when assigned authority to supervise the Contractor's work, or to suspend his operation.

The reader will benefit by reviewing related material that is presented in both Part I and Part II. This will particularly hold true for Chapters 4 and 11, dealing with the General Conditions, and Chapters 5 and 12, dealing with the Bidding Documents. Throughout the book, actual case histories are presented to illustrate problems on the job because of inadequate or poorly prepared Specifications, and how the Specifications enabled the Engineer to control and handle other situations such as unanticipated subsurface conditions; an uncooperative contractor; and questionable work which had to be uncovered for reexamination.

In addition to benefitting the student and the specification writer, material presented in this book will be found useful by the project engineer, the Designer, the Owner's site representative, the construction Contractor, and the construction claims lawyer. It has been said that over 50 percent of the construction claims that occur, are caused by Drawings and Specifications that are unclear, ambiguous, or contradictory.

When these claims wind up in court and there are questions concerning the intent of the Contract, the court will most likely tum to the Specifications rather than to the Drawings. It is much easier for judges and juries to interpret Specifications which are the written word, than it is to comprehend a technical drawing. There appears to be no recently prepared text on engineered construction specifications.

The authors of current texts on Specifications portray an architectural background. It was this author's goal to produce a text that could be used in a classroom by the engineering student, as well as in a design office by the engineer who writes Specifications. This book reflects the experience and general knowledge acquired by the author in a professional career spanning more than 45 years. Of the first 25 years, which were spent in the field on construction projects, the author served 21 years as a representative of the Owner.

One of his many responsibilities required the interpretation, enforcement, and defense, of the Contract Specifications. In the second half of his career, the author transferred to the design office where his responsibilities progressed from the preparation of Specifications, to the supervision oftheir preparation, and to the final review of completed Contract Specifications. In preparing this book, permission has been granted for the use of quotations and reproductions from previous publications.

It is the author's sincere hope that the material presented herein will be of help to both the practicing engineer and the student, in developing a sound knowledge of the subject of engineering construction specifications. The author wishes to express appreciation to his employer, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., New York, New York, and in particular to Henry L. Michel, Chief Executive Officer, for making the office facilities available throughout the years of research and preparation of this book.

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