Specification is an essential stage of the design process and makes the difference to a smooth-running, cost-effective works programme, with enhanced project delivery.
Specification writing is evolving, encouraging a partnership approach throughout the building process, with digital ways of working and expectations surrounding use of BIM.
Traditionally, specifications tended to be one of the last items written before a package was issued for tender. And yet, one of the key findings of the recently published 2017 NBS Specification Report is the specification process tends to start earlier and last longer.
"Specification can now begin as early as during the briefing and initial design process and continue into the handover and close out stages," says Jeremy king, National Specification manager for Comelit UK.
"And whereas a specification was once seen as a platform for communications and controlling the durability of any given building during construction, it now has a greater role to play and an extended life as an asset management tool – and additionally a very powerful one if linked to the spatial model through the increasingly influential role of BIM.
"BIM itself, currently operating towards the UK Government’s Construction 2025: Industrial Strategy for Construction, continues to embrace more of the processes involved in building design, from spaces and geometry, to costs, programming, sustainability and carbon performance credentials, and specifications.
"In response, detailed specifications are now becoming active documents that evolves from the brief, is extended through the design stages and is further updated during construction, before being handed over to the client to manage the asset. It incorporates involvement from different parties to remain successful in its objective.
"Starting early and developing the content and detail of specification relies upon increased collaboration between the architects, consultant, contract designers and end users to ensure specific details work with the expected performance of the building.
"Certainly, from Comelit’s Specification Team’s point of view, the closer we can get to consultants and developers, the better. Our aim is to embrace a partnership approach to ensure any integrated design of security systems specified fits with the intentions for the building.
"We know it’s a step change from the traditional supply chain process, but we believe one that can operate for the benefit of all parties involved."
The intricate nature of video and audio door entry products as Comelit specialise, when considered with latest IP solutions and from a general security perspective, means it’s necessary to understand the design works of the building, where different aspects will undoubtedly require varying access levels.
For Comelit, taking such a partnership approach, presents the opportunity to advise on the correct technology required; assist developers with writing tender specifications for access control and recommend approved installers experienced in installing the necessary level of security.
And on a practical level, the experience of the team, allows an understanding of the evolving nature of the specification process and means we have been able to incorporate BIM objects for all IP products, available for developers and M&E consultants.
"We believe this all helps greatly in defining who does what and when," he adds. "This clarity is key to providing the right environment to produce timely specification and design information with the correct level of detail for everyone involved in the schedule of works.
"If this is outlined in the initial design process, it can contribute to the smooth and efficient running of the building construction, which together with identifying design and consultancy services early on, can deliver on even the most demanding specification requirements, of today and the future."