We had initiated a purchase agreement with eSPECS some time ago, but the implementation never really gained momentum due to the odd state of our Revit projects at the time. With our new projects, it is one of my first priorities to get our system and content library configured for maximum effect with the Revit-eSPECS connection...more on that later.
- Specification authoring using a relational database instead of mere word processing
- Connection to the Building Information Model via Revit
The mapping functionality that makes the authoring "intelligent" is enough of a full topic, but I'd like to focus on how the product integrates with Revit. Most architects and engineers in the US organize their specifications according to the Construction Specifications Institute's (CSI) 1995 or 2004 guidelines. The 1995 version contains 16 divisions, while the 2004 version boasts a more robust 48 divisions. These divisions incorporate sections which are mostly relevant to a single trade or product - for example, Metal Fabrications or Cast-In-Place Concrete. These work well when information needs to be separately identified for subcontractors and/or fabricators bidding and executing a project.
In Revit, the digital elements are organized as assemblies. As such, the founders of Revit chose to implement the Uniformat Classification codes as a method to further identify objects such as walls, floors and roofs. If we examine a simple exterior wall in Revit, it is a single object consisting of potentially several layers - interior finish and framing, sheathing, insulation and exterior finish. Elements that are typically only shown in drafted detail might include flashing, anchors, trim, weep holes, etc. - all separate sections in CSI format. These are brought together as bindings in eSPECS - essentially a series of one-to-many relationships. In the previous example, a wall type in Revit as described above might have the assembly code "B2010141 - Ext. Wall-CMU w/ Stone Veneer" which would be bound to sections 04200, 04400, 05800 and so on.
The goal in this transfer is twofold: first, to enhance the communication and collaboration between the design team and the specification writers through the generation of a report from eSPECS showing everything in the model whether it was tagged correctly or not; second, it will automatically generate about 80% of the complete project specifications. The remaining 20% consists of individual material coding and specialty research. With refinement of the product, we will hopefully be able to generate the entire spec with minimal administration from the specification writer - allowing them to spend more time researching innovative materials and construction technologies. Another residual benefit of this implementation seems to be the re-education of our design team, again eliminating the 'toss over the fence' phenomenon. To make the transfer effective, designers must coordinate closely with our specification writers, giving them a higher level of understanding in feasibility and constructability.
View the eSPECS online demo via this link.