CSC: Principles of Construction Documentation Course Highlights

Specification Writing Illustration - from Midvale City websiteAs I mentioned in a previous post, my goal was to post weekly about my CSC Principles of Construction Documentation Course. I stopped because I couldn’t keep up with everything I had on my plate over the spring term (I can’t believe May is next week). I will post my unbiased (because my marks aren’t in yet) thoughts on the course here.

  1. I established a better baseline for working with existing specifications in our office. The course taught me what to look for when coordinating existing specifications from suppliers within our office’s specification framework. Although now, I really want to go through our office specifications and rework them entirely, especially to format them to PageFormat Standards.
  2. The course taught me to write specifications more effectively. If a contractor has to read a project manual, he wants concise, clear, accurate and consistent information at his fingertips. Again, in my office I want to go through our existing specifications (especially those for our corporate clients) and rework them so the language is direct and doesn’t contain lines like “the contractor shall.”
  3. The online course gave me insight into other groups of specification writers. The online discussion groups through the website gave me glimpses into the lives of future Certified Construction Contract Administrators (CCCA) and Certified Technical Representatives (CTR) and what their priorities are when they sell products or manage construction sites. Even though future courses would be in a different stream, I enjoyed their perspectives on the course, with their views on the appropriateness of luncheons and marketing, compared to our professional mandate of showing complete impartiality.
  4. The course covered a wide variety of topics related to specifications. I found the legal aspects the most interesting. I’m still not completely sure how Tort Law and Arbitration work in real life, but I believe I’m going to have to look up construction law blogs to follow-up on the topic. In particular, I’ve looked at articles from US sites about litigation over Green Building claims. I’d like to know how the cases turn out.
  5. I’ve seen the repercussions of poor specification writing on site. I’ve been doing third-party reviews for a P3 (Public-Private Partnership) project daily for the last 3 weeks, and I can see how the scope of the specification statements (the PSOS statement) impact the project’s completion. I don’t know how shop drawings were approved with the wrong materials, nor how specific situations were accepted because I wasn’t involved from the beginning of the project. Where were the mock ups (01300 – Submittals)? Where were the referenced standards (Plywood vs Particle board in AWMAC)?
  6. The more I look into specification writing, the more I’d like to know. I don’t necessarily want to be a specification expert, and I’m not sure if I’ll apply for furture courses or try to get a Certified Specification Practitioner (CSP) or a Register Specification Writer (RSW), but I have more questions now than I got answers for in the course. Does a project manual and the conditions in Division 1 have the same contractual obligation for a Construction Management (CM) contract as it does for a Stipulated Sum contract, when the Project Manual doesn’t contain the CM’s contract information? How do we tie those documents together more effectively? How are PSOS documents used in specifications for P3 projects?
  7. I found the online forum good, but strange. While it worked with my schedule, I found the “at your own pace” learning style a bit difficult. I haven’t done term-styled learning since 2008 when I took a building code course at BCIT, but that wasn’t online. Since then I’ve studied for all my NCARB ARE exams in 5-6 week chunks, every night, then proceeded to write the exam. I found the information difficult to remember on a week to week basis. A physical classroom might have scheduled my time and impressed the deadlines in my schedule a bit more.

Altogether, I really enjoyed the class, and learned a lot. I’m debating taking the Specifier 1 & 2 courses, since they get more in-depth into specification writing. But, I think I’ll wait until I’m officially licensed with the OAA, and use the course to build up my Continuing Education hours.

Does anyone else have any questions about what I learned from the course? Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know how I did in the end.


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2 thoughts on “CSC: Principles of Construction Documentation Course Highlights

  1. Hi Heather,

    Can you tell me where you took this course. I’m finding it hard to find the course. Also, was it online or in a classroom format. I’m sorry if you have already covered this somewhere but I can’t seem to find and reference to it.

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