CSC: Principles of Construction Documentation

I spent 8.5 years in school* learning how to be an architect; learning how to design, and mostly learning what a long road ahead of me I had in the field. I am at the end of 3.5 years logging hours to get licensed; I have completed my NCARB ARE exams (7, including one that also deals with specifications); gotten my LEED certification and am going over my hours with my mentor and employer to see what else I need to do to get that official letter that says “licensed.”

So, you might ask yourself why I’ve decided to take the Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) course Principles of Construction Documentation. I know I do. Especially when the pre-requisite to the Specifier courses sounds like so many other courses I’ve taken since I started architecture in the first place. We had a half course on specifications in our masters degree program, and the first NCARB ARE exam I took was Construction Documents & Specifications.

My main reasons for taking the course are simple enough, and two-fold. First, the AIBC Intern courses I took stressed creating fair and accurate contract documents. Since the contract between the client and the contractor is bound as part of the specification, it made sense to get a better understanding of what all the intertwined clauses mean. Second, very few people teach specifications very well. The best experience I’ve had so far came from that small half course during my masters degree, and from trying to create a specification for a project for the first time. The problem with learning in those settings is one of time. The course didn’t have the time in 6 3-hour classes to dive into the subject (even if our instructor was good at teaching it), and its a waste of the client’s money to learn it while creating a specification. I’ve learned bits of specification through studying for LEED, and through the random clauses I’ve had to study for my exams, but nothing has given me a clear enough understanding to write one myself.

Since I want to better understand specifications, I’m taking the course. I hope its more than the title implies, because I really don’t want a (another) basic course on construction documents. I’ll update you as I take the course**; hopefully writing my thoughts will help me better understand the material. It starts January 16th, and its a distance education program through SAIT.

Ideally, I’d love to start applying what I learn in specifications to sustainable and healthy design.

*my time at school broke down as follows: 5 years to do a 4 year program, getting valuable working experience every 2nd term through the co-op program; 16 months working full-time as I decided what topic to pursue as my thesis; 2 years doing a Masters thesis in architecture on health care, while assistant teaching and volunteering on the side.

**It’s in our nature to do too much. Beyond design skills, if you’re not an overachiever, architecture likely isn’t right for you.

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