September 5, 2018

Future of Specs - Bite-Sized

July:3CSI's question of the week got me writing: What changes to specification writing do you expect in the next 10 years?

I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know what I'd like to see happen. Bite-sized specs.


I'd like to see specs get more bite-sized and data-driven, the better to link to the model, but also the better to flex according to the delivery method. Imagine mousing over the canopy to see whether it's to be procured as delegated-design, design-assist, or per the structural engineer of record's design. That would tell the architect how much to draw, and what to control, and it would also tell the specifier what more needs specifying.

Bite-sized specs are still specs, but they likely aren't word-processing documents (not primarily). They'll take some getting used to, the way we had to learn to deal with CAD and then with BIM. We'll have trouble letting go of our favorite specs, and we'll have project types (looking at you, HUD and universities!) that won't be willing to change because they have their own favorite specs. We'll have managers who just won't understand the new specs.

Bite-sized specs would need Division 01 to be robust and flexible, well-linked to the design specs. That would be where the definitions of the attributes in the design specs would live, after all. Imagine if we didn't repeat in every design spec the requirement to clean the assembly after installation, because progress cleaning was well-defined in the contract of every subcontractor? Would our fear of "burying" information in Division 01 disappear, if "Part 3 - Execution" was hyperlinked to all the applicable execution requirements for the assembly? It's like a neural network of specs.

I do think this would wreak havoc on my checklisting. It's a price I'd be willing to pay for specs that my design teammates have right at their fingertips any time they need them.

I think ten years is possible, but we won't all be willing to get there by then. It's going to be difficult to shift from paper-thinking to network-thinking.

Want to see what others thought? If you sign in with your free login to CSI Resources, you can see the discussion here.

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