Blogging from a specifier’s perspective: Thoughtful observations about the construction documentation process

constructive thoughts
Sheldon Wolfe's Constructive Thoughts blog has a first recorded entry in 1999.

This is another in a continuing series of reviews about entries for the 2018 Best Construction Blog competition.

Sheldon Wolfe‘s Constructive Thoughts (and his related blog, Specific Thoughts) views the AEC industry through the perspective of a working construction specifier in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. He doesn’t post with exceptional frequency — his last entry at the time of this review was in Dec. 2017, but this infrequency is compensated by thoughtful posts and longevity.

(Wolfe says he has been blogging for the last six years from 2012 with an average posting frequency of about once a month. He has also included some articles written before he started the blog — hence entries dating back as far as 1999.)

His most recent post, “Wayward Websites” addresses the problem of multi-formatted websites and the challenges of making truly responsive sites, well, truly responsive. (The site/view on a smart phone simply doesn’t work on the wide-screen desktop and the opposite is no better.)

In his November post, “Is it time for change?” he tackles another really challenging problem: the application of correct documentation approaches for different types of construction projects.

In a nutshell, we’re using documents and procedures that were written decades ago, designed specifically for DBB (Design Bid Build). Any other delivery method requires that we use our standard documents in at least slightly different ways, ignore some of them, and often force them to do something they weren’t designed to do.

This indeed is a big issue, and if you spend any time with architects, engineers, contractors and specifiers you’ll hear complaints about the quality and suitability of documentation for construction projects these days.

Wolfe concludes:

The design phase and the construction document phases, then, change from pure design and specification to collaboration and documentation of what was agreed. That being the case, why do we continue to prepare construction documents for other delivery methods in the same way we do for DBB?

Perhaps it’s time for the equivalent of a constitutional convention. Let’s invite representatives of the traditional entities – owner, designer, and constructor – and their subcontractors, throw out all existing documents, and create new documents and procedures designed for the non-DBB delivery methods.

What do you say? Are you feeling revolutionary?

Wolfe’s blog certainly makes good points, and is worth a read — and you can go as far back or deep into blogging history as you like.

You can vote for his or other blogs in the 2018 Best Construction Blog competition here.

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