I’ve been preparing project manuals and editing specifications at Reid Middleton for the past two decades; so I was disillusioned when an engineer told me that, “No one reads the specs unless they have to.” No one had vocalized that particular “truth” to me before, but I do understand how daunting project manuals (aka specs) must be to the uninitiated and faint of heart.
Just as it is easier to find a word in the dictionary when you can spell, locating information quickly in a project manual is easier when you’re a Construction Document Technologist (CDT). CDT training reduces the intimidation factor associated with reading specs, making the volume(s) less daunting and (I’m probably being optimistic here) more inviting.
I think one problem people have with specs is that specs don’t have the same “picture is worth a thousand words” appeal as the drawings, but the specs are extremely important. Specs complement the drawings‑‑containing information not found on the drawings. Specs contain all of the contractually important, somewhat boring, clearly intimidating, legalese for the project. They specify the quality, materials, workmanship, and administrative procedures. Specs are essential to a well designed, low-risk project‑‑even if they are not well liked or read.
The CDT approach to design is pro-active. CDTs know how to develop and read the specs. They have a conceptual understanding of construction documents and contractual relationships. CDTs are versed in construction document administration, spec writing, product research and sourcing, and communication with design and contracting teams. They produce better bid packages for Owners and resolve questions quickly at the construction site. CDT training makes the paper chase less off-putting and saves time and budget.
Reid Middleton respects and encourages CDT certification. Lucky for me, Reid Middleton has a higher than average number of CDTs (17 and counting). I don’t have to defend the value of specs to a CDT, and I believe CDTs read specs because they want to. The advantage definitely goes to the CDTs with their insight and fortitude for specs.