Construction Document Templates

What Makes a Good Construction or Building Specification?

This article relates to Australian architectural, building, interiors, landscape projects of any size or type, be it housing, multi-residential, industrial, commercial.

Secondary consultant specifications (structural, civil, hydraulic, electrical engineers, etc) are not included, however, similar principles apply to them.

Construction and building specifications can appear daunting – all that detail.

But specifications should be easy to read and navigate, not only have quality content. After all, many people on-site using the specification may be less formally educated than you.

A specification is lengthy and wordy so needs to have a predictable, logical structure. Sections (chapters) need to be identical in format. The preliminaries (section 1) has a lot of common content so it’s format is different.

ArchiAssist also uses sections 2 (fixing & sealing) and section 3 (metalwork) as common sections because their content affects most things. Other common detail is in the ‘general’ sub-section of each section. Common detail is not repeated in the spec but is referred to often.

This all makes common detail easy to find. Specific trade detail should also be easy to find.

People search for specifics in a likely section. Sections of only a few pages long helps visual scanning for a thing. Failing this, a ‘related detail’ clause at the start of that section should locate the thing.

Specifications need quality content and need to be easy to read and navigate. They also should be easy to produce.

The ArchiAssit master is a single writable document. Just copy and paste it from your own computer storage file to your project file. It’s a read and delete system – read content and delete that not wanted. What is left is your spec. It can’t be easier.

This system can only work when master content is that universal, often mundane detail that repeats everyday on building sites. There is no adding to it.

Your drawings and schedules have project-specific detail (your selected components and materials). Don’t bury these in the specification.

Other smaller things go into a good specification, but the final thing is, because specifications are very wordy, it is vital to have italicized defined words, which are used in all general conditions of contract and in the BCA and NCC. You need to know when you are reading a defined word.

Specifications are so critical that they are known as the most important in a construction contract. Take your time to research, you need to be sure you have a quality specification.

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