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Engineering Construction Specifications by Joseph Goldbloom The Road to Better Quality, Lower Cost, Reduced Litigation by Joseph Goldbloom.
For the past 25 years, Joe Goldbloom and I have conducted a running debate over whether specifications writers engage in the unlawful practice of law. Joe's position is that lawyers have no business writing specifications, that being the designer's province. Having been given the honor to write this foreword, I have the opportunity for the last word, at least for now. Joe Goldbloom and I first met in 1964, while serving together on the ASCE Committee on Contract Administration.
Joe became my teacher, mentor, and friend. Underlying our good natured debate was the serious issue of the technical qualifications required of a specifications writer. As a matter of fact, specifications writing traditionally has fallen in a crack between the two professions. Specifications writing typically is neither taught in engineering school nor in law school. Engineers are taught how to design; lawyers are taught how to draft contracts. Specifications writing requires mastery of the technical elements of design as well as the skills of contract drafting. Specifications writing is neither glamorous nor sexy;
it is often viewed as a necessary evil of the designer's job. Having professional training in both engineering and law, and being engaged in legal practice specializing in construction, I nevertheless feel unqualified to write specifications because I lack a further necessary element of training: namely, practical field experience in construction. After all, specifications are intended to be the written communication between the designer and the constructor, expressing how the project is to be built. Specifications must be written for the person in the field who is charged with the responsibility of building the project.
Ironically, all too often specifications are a stepchild, written by a designer with little or no practical field experience, and, after a dispute has arisen, are ultimately interpreted by a judge, possessing no engineering training or construction experience. It is then a matter of the blind leading the blind. As the reader will soon see, Joe Goldbloom has abundant skill in the art of communication. More over, he has a lifetime of experience in construction, starting as a field engineer and superintendent for a contractor, then as an inspector and resident engineer, and finally as the chief specifications writer for the internationally preeminent design firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff.
The book is not merely a primer in how technically to specify the bricks and mortar of construction. It extends to the philosophical underpinnings of the construction process, involving issues of fundamental fairness and risk allocation as between owner and constructor. The book is scholarly and at the same time intensely practical. It describes rrent specifications practices, defines good practices, and admonishes against specifically defined poor practices. The book lays out potential pitfalls in specifications and how to avoid them.
It defines when, and under what circumstances, to seek legal counsel. The book is filled with illustrative case histories from the author's extensive experience in construction. In the same manner that the book instructs on how to prepare well organized, well written specifications, the book, itself, is exceptionally well organized and well written. Explanations are clear and concise; technical jargon is avoided. The book is a pleasure to read. The book is nearly encyclopedic. It contains a wealth of information, including check lists, sources of information for specifications writers, a bibliography, and specimen provisions.
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