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Team Spec: Communication is Key



Are you communicating with your specifier during construction administration? Are you, perhaps, a little afraid to tell your specifier about something that didn’t get built according to the spec?

I will tell you, that’s exactly the kind of feedback we specifiers need the most in order to serve you better. Don’t be afraid.

construction document administration
© / Nd300

Don’t be afraid to collaborate and offer feedback on the project specifications. Your relationship with your specifier and your next project depend on it.

What’s the point of communicating with your specifier once the specs are done? Well, there are a few points, and many of them can make your project better and your work better.

  • If you don’t understand your specs, your specifier should be able to explain them.
  • If you’re tempted not to enforce a requirement in the spec, your specifier can tell you why it’s there and help you judge whether your reason for ignoring it might really outweigh the reason it was included.
  • If there’s a problem with the spec, how your specifier handles it speaks volumes about how important your business is to the specifier.
  • If you plan to work with this specifier many times or recommend her to an officemate, communicating a project’s outcome this time can make the next spec better.
  • The better connected you are with your specifier, the better coordinated your projects are likely to be. Communication is a good habit to develop.

The feedback I receive regarding my specs is the reason I make myself available for construction administration consultation for every project. I also feel that this service improves my clients’ spec literacy, which makes the next project go more smoothly.

What if your specifier gets shocked or offended when you don’t enforce their spec? It’s worth examining your relationship. Think back on how you told her first, and see if it’s reasonable for her to have thought you devalued or ignored her hard work. If that’s a reasonable interpretation, apologize. A happy consultant is a faithful, dedicated consultant, after all.

On the other hand, if you have a specifier who is hostile or unreceptive to your feedback, you have a choice: Find out whether the relationship can be improved, or go shopping for a more collaborative specifier.

When you're a good teammate, and so is your specifier, you have the specifier you deserve. And good teammates have nothing to fear in working together.

About the Author

Vivian Volz

Vivian Volz is an architect and the principal specifier of VVAS, an independent architectural specifications firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. The firm's West Coast projects include multifamily residences, hotels, high-performance buildings, and sustainable workplaces. Volz is active on CSI's national committees and in the San Francisco chapter. She serves on the Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP) board of directors. She is a contributor to Let's Fix Construction.

You can follow her on Twitter @vivianvolz.


Let's Fix Construction is written by a collective group of construction professionals involved in, an online impartial platform to provide forward-thinking solutions to many longstanding issues that have plagued construction. Organizers and contributors seek to better the industry by sharing knowledge, while creating open and positive communication and collaboration. Many of the posts have appeared first on and are republished on Durability + Design with permission. Author information is available at the bottom of each blog entry.



Tagged categories: Architects; Business management; Construction; Consultants; Contractors; Design; Designers; Developers; Engineers; Good Technical Practice; Specifiers; Building owners; Construction Specifications Institute; Specification; Specification writing

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