New Hampshire Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute

Construction Documents: What Don't You Know? -Part 2
By Cherise Lakeside, CSI, CDT, SCIP, CSC, Arch Specifier. 

5. The Actual Specification Section for your Work: At our workshops and presentations, the general feedback from Subcontractors has been that they only look at the sections specific to their work, if they look at the specifications at all.  This is a mistake and you are exposing yourself to added risk if that is how you operate. 
  • If you are a flooring subcontractor, besides looking at the requirements for your work, you should understand and review the specifications for the subfloor that goes under your product.  We all know that the concrete is poured or the sub-floor is installed typically well before the flooring installer arrives on the job.  Also, a flooring installer is often coming in at the 11th hour as the GC doesn’t want to be performing construction on new floors.  This is the absolute worst time to discover you have a problem.
  • If you understand what your product requires for the subfloor, review those specs during the bid period and point out any problems that you may find (i.e. inadequate concrete curing time) prior to the bid – you have a good chance of having it corrected in an Addendum and not having to deal with (and/or pay for) the issue later.  Even if it doesn’t cost you actual dollars to deal with an issue, if it costs you time, it’s the same thing.
  • Your Spec Section(s) are specific to your work and has three parts.  This is for a reason and designed as such to help you find what you need quickly and easily.

Part 1 GENERAL of the Section is the third layer of Administrative Requirements on the project.  These requirements are specific to your product.  Part 1 will include things like submittals, warranty, pre-installation meetings, codes, closeout procedures, samples, mock-ups, testing, etc. SPECIFIC TO YOUR PRODUCT/INSTALLATION.  These requirements are IN ADDITION TO the General Conditions (Broad Project Requirements) and the Division 01 Requirements (Specific Project Wide Requirements).  Basically, you have three places to look to understand what you are required to do and provide.

Part 2 PRODUCTS is everything you need to know about the products you are to provide for your work.  Manufacturer, type, style, size, color, transitions, accessories, etc.  You will also find things like factory testing requirements.

Part 3 EXECUTION includes all of the information and requirements for the installation of your product.  This can include things like pre-installation testing, limits on substitutions, performance criteria, operation and controls, shop fabrication, assembly, finishing methods, installation instructions, preparation, site quality control, cleaning, closeout activities, training and maintenance.

The bottom line is that there is very important information in the full drawings and specifications of which you need to be aware.  Having full knowledge of these items will help you spot conflicts between the drawings and specifications, understand what work is expected of you and help you reduce risk from the very beginning.  If you are awarded the project, this early knowledge of the requirements will help you ask the right questions, plan your work efficiently, proactively address issues and save you time.

This article represents only a portion of the knowledge you should have if you work in any discipline in Architecture, Engineering or Construction.  The good news is, there are places you can get this knowledge with programs that are well rounded and affordable. 

The Construction Specifications Institute offers cradle-to-grave education in Project Delivery through the CDT (Construction Documents Technologist) Education Program.  You can find out more here:

The FCICA (The Flooring Contractors Association) offers the CIM (Certified Installation Manager) Program which also offers education in Construction Documents.  Information on that program is located here:

We hope you join us at the table for better coordination and collaboration with less risk!