ELECTRICAL SPECIFICATIONS BASICS AND TUTORIALS

Electrical specifications for buildings or projects are written legal descriptions of the work to be performed by the electrical contractor, subcontractors, and electric power utilities and the responsibilities and duties of the architect/engineer, general contractor, and owner. Electrical specifications and electrical drawings are integral parts of the contract requirements for the performance of electrical work.

Because specifications are a significant part of a legally binding contract, typically involving expenditures of thousands or even millions of dollars, it is important that they be mutually compatible with the drawings and as free as possible of errors or discrepancies.

It has long been known that even minor errors in wording or intent or the presentation of incorrect data or measurements can result in expensive repairs or replacements of hardware, lost time in the completion of the schedule, and serious project cost overruns due to delays and the need for additional labor and supervision.

In most engineering and architectural firms, regardless of size, specifications writers are skilled persons with technical backgrounds who report to a responsible project supervisor. The preparation of an error-free specification is a time-consuming task calling for the writer’s patience and the ability to deal effectively with complex technical details.

The process might call for many drafts and revisions following the review, comments, and corrections
made by persons within the architect/engineering organization with specialized knowledge and experience in each of the trades involved in the project. As with drawings, all responsible reviewers are expected to sign the final version that is released for bid.

Nevertheless, this does not relieve specifications writers of their responsibilities, because they are expected to have sufficient knowledge of the project to make them capable of finding and resolving any discrepancies between the specifications and the drawings. Discrepancies are most likely to occur when

A generic master or prototype specification is used without making all of the modifications necessary to reflect what is actually shown on the working drawings. Revisions that should have been made in a previously prepared drawings are indicated only by a note in the revision block, leaving the drawing unchanged.

Revisions in items that are listed both in schedules on the drawings and in the written specifications are made on only one of these documents. For example, there is a discrepancy if the specification calls for one loadcenter but the drawing has been revised to show two loadcenters and this change is not reflected back to the specifications.

Such a discrepancy could result in unnecessary costs, unless caught in time. For this reason, it is not good professional practice to duplicate the same information on both specifications and drawings. It is preferable that the required information be placed on the document on which it is most logically found to assure compliance, with perhaps a reference to its location on the other document.

If for some reason duplication of information occurs in both drawings and specifications, and it is not practical to delete it from one of the documents, the project supervisor should add a note to the contract before it is put out for bid stating whether the specifications or drawings take precedence.

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