(Note: This is a revision of my post that appeared last year in the former CSI blog site. )
Why? Because it makes sense.
People hire certified, licensed, and registered professionals all the time. The doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, contractors, etc. that we hire, either as employees or for services, require some level of competence as determined by an authoritative organization responsible for that specialty. However, when it comes to preparing specifications, many design professionals don’t see the need to hire an in-house specifier or a specifications consultant, let alone a certified specifier.
People have no problem going to a cardiologist for heart problems or a probate lawyer for handling a will. But many architects and engineers seem very content with preparing the specifications themselves for their designs without understanding the technical and legal nuances that come with specifying.
It is understandable that architects want to focus on the preparation of the construction drawings, since that is the graphic element of construction documents and architects are generally visual people. But the drawings can only provide a limited amount of information. You can have a great set of drawings that show an excellent design, but that may be all for naught if the specifications lack sufficient information to describe the materials, products, and installation requirements that must be met to achieve the level of quality desired. A poorly prepared set of specifications may contain errors that omissions that reduce the architect's and owner's control over the project.
Like the art of architectural design, the calculations of engineering, and the preparation of CAD or BIM files, specifying requires a level of expertise all unto its own. The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) recognized this and developed the Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) program. The program has evolved over the years since it was first introduced in the early 1980s, but the goal has remained the same: providing an avenue for specifiers to demonstrate their “excellence in specifications and contract document preparation.”
I have found it interesting that many of the application forms for professional liability insurance state, “Does your firm use an automated master specification system?” I equate that to asking, “Do you use a handgun for protection?” Neither question asks if you’ve been trained and have demonstrated a level of skill to show you know how to use it. Improper use of either could lead to problems not only for you, but other people involved. Possessing the knowledge of what to do, and the skill to be able do it, is the essence of CCS certification.
The certified construction specifier brings to the design team a broad knowledge of not only specifications, but knowledge in the coordination of construction documents, materials, constructability, and product/system integration. Therefore, if you desire that expertise in your firm, add a CCS to your staff. If your firm’s financial situation does not currently allow employing new staff, then hire one of the several independent specifications consultants that hold CCS certification. Either way, you may pay now or pay later; and paying later may not be less expensive or less painful.