Specifications – Are they important?

By: Dale Mullikin, Regional Sales Manger

plans hoard hat

Architects, engineers, and contractors all agree that specifications are really important. Specifications are written by architects and engineers to make sure the project is built with appropriate materials and provide details for specific use of products. Contractors use specifications to guide them through the bid process and actual construction of the building.

Reality at the jobsite can be different from the specification and that causes confusion and change orders. So correct specifications are really important on any project. As a material supplier, ACH Foam Technologies looks at hundreds of specifications every week, and the main issues for suppliers are incomplete or incorrect specifications.

I recently looked at a specification that listed geofoam as the desired product. The specification went on to include information for two completely different products, one of which was not geofoam. Contractors are sometimes confused and normally rushed to meet a bid date, so when they ask for guidance from suppliers, many suppliers do not even look at specifications but depend on the contractor for information. This leads to wrong materials showing up at the jobsite that are not what the architect or engineer intended. Who loses? The owner loses! The material is on site or even installed before anyone realizes it, or even worse, no one even catches the mistake at all.

How can this be solved? Architects and engineers need to find material suppliers that meet their criteria for a quality product and ask for help with writing the specification. They also need to ask for specific submittals. In one specific instance a submittal paragraph asked only for shop drawings. How does the architect or engineer know they received the material they specified? It doesn’t stop there. Architects and engineers need to ask for third-party certification to make sure the material meets their minimum requirements. It must be clear that providing documentation is very important in the submittal process. Providing brochures and tech data sheets is not assurance that a material supplier has third-party certification.

It would be easy for the architect or engineer to say, “I wrote the specification and if the contractor doesn’t provide the correct material then that absolves my liability.” Again, who really loses? The owner loses because the material is not performing to specification. Sure there can be ramifications but all that costs money. Why not solve this problem before it becomes a problem?

ACH Foam Technologies is ready and willing to help in this process. We will help you make sure, when specifying our products, that you choose the appropriate material for your project. We will also guide you with developing the correct submittals. While this is not a complicated process, it can help any designer or contractor avoid having to tell the owner that the wrong material is on a project.

Specifications are important! Incorrect, misunderstood, or incomplete specifications can cause more headaches than you can imagine. So if you are specifying geofoam or insulation for a roof, wall, or below grade application, contact ACH Foam Technologies and we will guide you to the right product for your next project.

About Dale Mullikin

Dale Mullikin has been in the EPS business for 14 years. He has done hundreds of educational Lunch & Learns for architects and engineers all over the midwest.
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