In Section 5.5 some problems of writing specifications have been mentioned. A specification usually comprises two distinct parts – Part 1: all the general requirements, and Part 2: the quality of workmanship and materials required.
The general requirements can usually be classified into four categories:
• scope of work and reference standards;
• drawings and documents;
• site details and data;
• completion and testing.
Under the first, the specification should provide a brief but reasonably comprehensive description of the works to be built. The elements making up the whole project should be mentioned, together with their principal sizes or, where relevant, outputs. (This is of assistance to those who might wish to use the priced contract later for the purpose of analysing costs.) The services which the contractor is to provide may need description, particularly if he is to design any part of the works. The services which the employer and/or other contractors are to provide must be defined. Explanation should be given of the industry or national standards used on the project, and in what circumstances alternatives
may be allowed.
The second section should include:
• a list of drawings provided by the employer to accompany the contract;
• requirements for any drawings and explanation of methods of construction the contractor is to produce, in order that sufficient information is provided for the employer to decide whether such work is as specified and conforms to all safety measures required;
• the timing of submission of the contractor’s drawings and what time is allowed for the engineer to examine same and respond;
• other information required from the contractor such as – test results on materials and items of plant the contractor is to provide including manufacturers’ drawings, maintenance and operation manuals;
• an example of the form in which claims for interim payment should be
The third section will contain much information about the site and relevant
data, such as
• description of site and access, working areas;
• statutory requirements e.g. work in public roads, Health & Safety Act,
Control of Pollution Act, etc.;
• water and power supplies available, sanitation, sewerage and solid waste disposal;
• contractor’s offices;
• engineer’s offices, attendance on engineer, vehicles for engineer, telephones;
• temporary fencing, watching;
• setting out data;
• geological and hydrological data.
The geological and hydrological data presented is of crucial contractual significance.
The contractor has to base his prices on what is reasonably foreseeable;
hence he must seek all data which has some relevance to what might be foreseeable.
The ICE conditions 7th edition contain Clause 11 which deems that the contractor has based his tender on his own inspection and examination of the site ‘and on all information whether obtainable by him or made available by the Employer’. The employer should thus supply to tenderers any information he has which can be considered relevant to the works.
Choice of this information can present serious problems. There may be a large amount of such data, and it may be of variable reliability due to use of different methods of procurement, testing samples, etc. But to hold any data back on the basis of its doubtful validity would be dangerous; it could turn out to be highly relevant to troubles the contractor might encounter. Yet to comment on the reliability of data, would be equally dangerous. Clause 11 states that ‘interpretation’ of the data is the contractor’s responsibility. Therefore the data included in, or supplied with, the tender documents must be chosen with care by the geotechnical engineer in charge of such matters and no interpretation or comment on such data should be given. However factual descriptions of the methods used for obtaining data should be given because this is relevant information which can indicate variations of data reliability. The dates when investigations took place and their exact locations are also essential information.
The fourth section defines any requirements or restrictions in respect of the programme for construction and the completion of the contract, including details of sections of the works required to be completed early. If any bonus is to be allowed for completion of all, or some part of the works by a given date, this should be defined. Details should be given of all other contractors who will have rights to enter the site, what work they will undertake and what facilities they will need. Lists of contractors supplying materials to be incorporated in the works need to be given, together with expected times of delivery. Tests stipulated before work can be accepted and should also be detailed.