Assisting Architects with Specification Writing
(Article 5 of the series on “Becoming an Independent Manufacturers’ Rep Who Develops Specifications with Architects and Engineers“)
In the “Product” section of a specification, the architect or engineer (A/E) describes or lists the manufacturers and products that are qualified to bid the project. In many specifications, this might be a laundry list of manufacturers. However, it is best to help the architect select three competitive manufacturers, including the one you represent.
Some architects use the “or equal” clause to allow other manufacturers to bid. Sometimes, a ten-day prior approval is required of manufacturers who are not listed. Often, the A/E chooses not to review substitutions until after they award of the project. In any case, as a trusted advisor, you have the ability to make the architect aware that you will help in evaluating substitutions to be sure they truly provide the client with the same performance as the products described or listed in his specifications.
Whether the specifications are being written by an in-house or outside specification writer or another member of the design team, the goal is to have the product(s) you represent become the design standard of the specification. When your product becomes the design standard, this gives you the best chance of selling your product to whomever is the ultimate purchaser in the construction process being used.
When working with an A/E, particularly for the first time, it is beneficial to you and the A/E to review his specifications. This gives you the opportunity to be sure the performance characteristics of your product(s) are used in the specification—or at a minimum that the performance characteristics the specification writer prefers does not prevent the bidding of your product.
If the specification writer asks you to write a specification for a particular project from scratch, it is best to use the specification published by your manufacturer. Simply modify it to be in the format preferred by the A/E’s office. If you use proprietary product characteristics, be sure the architect understands why this is important for the project, because using these characteristics will limit manufacturers who can bid. However, when all is said and done, leave the final decision to the architect. Overstepping your bounds will not result in the relationship you are looking for.
Often, specifications are written with short deadlines. If you are assisting architects with specification writing or writing specifications from scratch, be cognizant of the deadlines. Submit information when promised.
If you have questions about working with an A/E on a specific project or have general questions about assisting in writing specifications, please contact Scott Lau Consulting online or call 804-794-0202.