Demographics, digital tech, climate change, AI - all challenges facing the built environment. Enter our ideas competition.
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Specifications are written documents that describe the materials and workmanship required for a development.
They do not include cost, quantity or drawn information but need to be read alongside other contract documentation such as quantities, schedules and drawings.
Specifications vary considerably depending on the stage to which the design has been developed, ranging from performance (open) specifications that require further design by a contractor or supplier, to prescriptive (closed) specifications where the design is already complete when the project is tendered.
Prescriptive specifications give the client more certainty about the end product when they make their final investment decision (i.e. when they appoint the contractor), whereas a performance specification gives the contractor and suppliers more scope to innovate and adopt cost-effective methods of work, potentially offering better value for money.
Typically, performance specifications are written on projects that are straight-forward, standard building types, whereas prescriptive specifications are written for more complex buildings, or buildings where the client has requirements that might not be familiar to contractors and where certainty regarding the exact nature of the completed development is more important to the client.
An exception to this might be a repeat client such as a large retailer, where a specific, branded end result is required and so whilst the building type is well known, the specification is likely to be prescriptive.
In fact, most projects will involve a combination of performance and prescriptive specifications, where items crucial to the design will be specified prescriptively (such as external cladding) whilst less critical items, or items requiring specialist design are specified only by performance (such as service lifts).