Project Specification Manual

The project specification manual is also known as the specifications.

Always review the entire project specification manual!

You’ve heard me say this many times before. “The devil is in the details.” The project specification manual, also known simply as “the specs,” contains a lot of details! You will notice as you review Division 26, or the electrical specs, to refer to other construction specification sections. Always review those sections for related work and how that pertains to the electrical scope of work.

Division 00 is where it all begins!

An estimator should review Division 00, or the “front end docs” first. Review all project information here, such as alternates, allowances and special job conditions. Always refer to the construction specification index for all specification sections, so that you can easily review information that is pertinent.

Always review Division 10, 11, and 12, Specialties, Equipment and Furnishings!

Divisions 10 through 12 of the construction specification detail information about special equipment and furnishings. While the electrical contractor might not have to furnish these items, every project is different. Always review and never assume what you own and don’t own! In class today, we reviewed a rather extensive project’s construction specification. It included photoluminescent egress markings, exterior sun control devices, dock levelers, projection screens and motorized project lifts, and roller shades.

What are photoluminescent lights?

Photoluminescent egress markings have become much more prevalent because they mark the egress path when both normal and emergency power fails. They are not electrical and recharge with regular light. We have seen some projects where the electrical contractor provides and installs this lighting. However, on the project we reviewed, the specifications clearly stated that the items must be installed by a contractor having 10 years experience. That still doesn’t solve the mystery of whether the electrical contractor on this project had to furnish the lighting with installation being subbed out to a qualified contractor. Honestly, we discussed that the construction specification does not stand alone. Sometimes you have to get additional information from the drawings, and other contract documents. You never know where you will find that missing piece of the puzzle to answer your question.

Sometimes sun control devices are just awnings!

We determined that the exterior sun control devices were not motorized, so we moved on.

Dock levelers may or may not require additional devices to be provided by the electrical contractor.

The dock leveler was provided with a disconnect and the control switch, so we will look for the electrical requirements of this item when we start the take-off. I just finished a project on Friday that had a dock leveler and control switch, but the electrical contractor was responding for providing the “traffic” (red/green) light at the dock. Look for notes on the drawings for additional items that you have to provide! In this case, there was a lighting symbol shown and a part number, so we added this to our list of items that need a quote.

Projector screens and lifts often require control wiring provided by the electrical contractor.

Rarely, if ever, does the electrical contractor have to provide the projection screen or projector lifts, and that was the case here. We were more interested in determining the control conduits and wiring that would be provided by the electrical contractor. Again, more information regarding this was shown on the actual construction drawings.

Roller shades can be motorized and they might be hidden on the drawings!

Finally, roller shades are often a stealthy item! We did determine that the roller shades were motorized, so that we could look for the circuits on the electrical drawings. I cited an example in class of a recent project we completed in Massachusetts. The roller shades were not clearly marked but were shown as a dotted line around the perimeter of a large room. All that the drawings mentioned was a simple note. Upon further review and a subsequent RFI document that was issued, we determined that there were 51 shades! You never want to not cover the circuits and small equipment connections for 51 items!

The project specification manual review can be a daunting task! It does get easier with practice!

We warned our students that it would take us about 16 hours to review everything that you should know about the construction specification. So far, we have reviewed related sections to electrical, as referenced in the specs. Always review the entire spec, paying close attention to related construction specification sections!

Electrical Estimating Apprenticeship – B.A.D.A.S.S. (Day 3)

The electrical estimating apprenticeship Day 3 started with a review of take-off components which we call B.A.D.A.S.S.

Be a B.A.D.A.S.S.

Years ago, we developed this acronym for our new estimators to remember all the components of bidding documents.

B – Invitation to Bid and Bid Forms

A – Allowances and Alternates

D – Drawings

A – Addenda

S – Scope of Work

S – Specs

B stands for Invitation to Bid and Bid Forms

Just because you receive an Invitation to Bid doesn’t mean that you should bid the project. We discussed having the time, tools, and resources to be able to complete the job per the requirements. Needless to say, if you are deficient in any area, you may have to reconsider bidding that project. 

The Invitation to Bid is your first introduction to the project. It will include project name, location, and bid date, as well as what trades will be required on the project. It will also include information on pre-bid meetings and walk-throughs. Pay attention if attending the walk through is mandatory in order to submit a bid! Also, look around and see who is there. It will give you a good idea of which competitors are considering bidding the project.

Minority participation may be also be required. If you are bidding as a prime, you will have to be sure to satisfy the minority requirements. If you are a minority contractor, pay attention to the bid forms and what your advantage will be. Often you will receive a 10% consideration for the work.

The Invitation to Bid will also include information about whether bonding will be required. We discussed bid, payment and performance bonds. Simply, a bid bond ensures that “you will complete the job for the quoted price.” A payment bond ensures “a contractor will pay your subs and suppliers.” A performance bond ensures “a contractor will complete the job as stated.”

Jobs can either be public or private. Public jobs are bid strictly by “plans and specs” and no exceptions are made. Private jobs, on the other hand, have a lot more latitude.

A stands for Allowances and Alternates

Always review the bid documents, including the bid form and front end specifications for allowances and alternates. Allowances could be required for just about anything. Sometimes it will be a fixed dollar amount to be “used at the discretion of the GC” sort of like a pre-paid change order. Other times, the specs will state to carry a dollar amount for a system that is not designed.

Look at the alternates before you start your take-off so that you can identity the areas of the alternates before you start your take-off. Believe me; this is a time saver!

D is for Drawings

If I have said it before, I will say it again. Always ask for a full set of drawings because you will be responsible for anything electrical regardless of what drawing it is on. Look at the drawing index and make sure you have all the drawings. Review the RCP’s for ceiling type and height and the architecturals for wall construction.

If you follow a systematic approach to your electrical estimating process, you will undoubtedly identify the true cost of the project, which is the estimator’s role.

Day 4 follows with more BADASS tips! Stay tuned!