I’ve seen a fair amount of twitter traffic over the last couple of days regarding the documents that are handed to specifiers by architects. The principal complaint has to do with lack of detail in the drawings. This is in step with complaints I’ve heard (and sometimes uttered) over the years about unprepared graduates coming from our architecture schools. I was once one of them.
I’ve stated before in this forum that I was more fortunate than many in that I had an excellent mentor in Thomas R. Wyant, Jr., AIA, CSI. He filled in the many of the gaps that my professional education left void. He also introduced me to CSI. Tom paid attention to detail, both in terms of the documents we produced and in terms of the constructed result of our work. For the 30 years that my practice has existed, I have made a concerted effort to pay this forward.
In spite of our best efforts, however, there is no such thing as a perfect set of construction documents. So the sketchy sections that initially go to the specifier should only serve as a conversation starter. An experienced spec writer will see immediately what is missing and start asking questions. It is this dialogue that results in details being fleshed out. Assuming that there is enough time in the owner’s timetable for this conversation to take place, the construction documents should be adequate to allow the project to be built.
That said, we need to be educating all of the parties to the construction project – including the owners. Owner’s expectations should be realistic in terms of both budget and timing. The A/E should be able to have enough time to produce the documents and make a reasonable profit in the progress. Likewise, the contractor should have adequate time and funds to do his/her job appropriately; again at a reasonable profit. In the end, the owner should have a facility that meets his/her needs that also provides an environment that is functional and meets the needs of the end user.
It boils down to communication, which is essential for a successful project. Such communication is possible through a common language which is facilitated by CSI formats and proper use thereof. Individuals who hold a CSI certification or certificate will be well versed in the use of the various formats and will benefit the construction team on which they serve.