Teaching Construction Specifications

TRC has been committed to quality construction specifications for nearly 30 years. During this time there has been a recognizable decline in the number of specifiers in the industry. Where there was once difficulty in getting a job as a specifier now it is difficult to find a specifier.

In recent years specification software has improved and several options exist in the market today that make specifications more manageable. While these systems won’t replace human interaction or project-specific customization, they simplify the redundancy of some specification tasks and improve overall quality control.

My goal with Teaching Construction Specifications is to empower construction teams to develop and further edit specifications for projects using your software system and incorporating industry standard practices and language.

Please contact me at sherry@trc-consultants.com to discuss how we can enhance your teams’ confidence in development, coordination, and delivery of project specifications.

Programs

Specifications are the legal written contract documents that define the quality and types of workmanship and materials upon which the construction contract is based.

Programs

Specifications are the legal written contract documents that define the quality and types of workmanship and materials upon which the construction contract is based.

Mentoring

The unwritten knowledge and experience of a Specifier takes years of researching products and learning from others. A mentor provides connections to resources within the industry and encourages continued growth and skill development.

About

Sherry Harbaugh, FCSI, CCS, RA, SCIP

Sherry HarbaughStarting her architectural career in Sacramento and settled now in Spokane, Sherry quickly found her interest in architecture was exploring the integration of materials and coordination of drawings and specifications. Having found that focus Sherry spent her career dedicated to writing specifications for clients and manufacturers across the country on a variety of project types.

Despite working remotely with the vast majority of her clients, Sherry was able to develop strong relationships with the people she works with. Writing and consulting provided numerous opportunities to assist her clients with project-specific material research, material classification, and use specifications to bridge the gap between drawings and construction.

She remains committed to connecting people and products and being a resource to the construction industry as her emphasis is redirected toward teaching principles of specification writing and mentoring future specifiers. She intends to share her expertise in a more in-depth, focused way, by integrating one-on-one teaching and mentoring with on-the-job training.

Architectural Registration
Washington State

Education

Master of Architecture
Montana State University 2009

Affiliations/Credentials

  • Fellow, Construction Specifications Institute
  • LEED Accredited Professional
  • Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice
Associations Logos

Sherry Harbaugh
FCSI, CCS, RA, SCIP

Sherry HarbaughStarting her architectural career in Sacramento and settled now in Spokane, Sherry quickly found her interest in architecture was exploring the integration of materials and coordination of drawings and specifications. Having found that focus Sherry spent her career dedicated to writing specifications for clients and manufacturers across the country on a variety of project types.

Despite working remotely with the vast majority of her clients, Sherry was able to develop strong relationships with the people she works with. Writing and consulting provided numerous opportunities to assist her clients with project-specific material research, material classification, and use specifications to bridge the gap between drawings and construction.

She remains committed to connecting people and products and being a resource to the construction industry as her emphasis is redirected toward teaching principles of specification writing and mentoring future specifiers. She intends to share her expertise in a more in-depth, focused way, by integrating one-on-one teaching and mentoring with on-the-job training.

Architectural Registration
Washington State

Education
Master of Architecture Montana State University 2009

Affiliations/Credentials
Fellow, Construction Specifications Institute
LEED Accredited Professional
Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice

Associations Logos
Why Outsource Training?

Time is precious and the construction industry has never been busier. The pandemic sent many recent college graduates home to work without the shoulder-to-shoulder oversight typical of those first years in an office environment. But even with everyone back in the office, in-house staff have their own tasks and deadlines to meet. Outsourcing allows education and training without burdening in-house staff except for performance evaluation and communication of goals.

When will my employee be able to work on a project?

Immediately. Expectation of the curriculum is that your employee will remain billable during the training period. Learning specification skills will assist them in becoming a valuable part of a project team.

My employee is having difficulties with a task they learned. Do they have to wait until the next week to ask a question?

I am available to the trainee. I will be aware of what they are working on each week and will reach out to them midweek regardless if they contact me.

Will my employee be able to take on a new project on their own after going through the program?

Yes! That is the goal!

My employee already does most of the document coordination in the office. What can you help him/her learn?

That person would be a prime candidate for Project Specifier 1. Review that program with him/her and see if this is a direction they are interested in pursuing.

How many people will you be teaching at the same time?

One at a time. I am committed to 5 students maximum every 3 months in order to remain available, approachable, and assist them with development of their skills.

How long is the program?

The training is 8 consecutive weeks. I would then be on retainer to your employee for a year.

What is included in the fee?

The fee includes one-on-one learning presentations, study materials, industry resources, and 1 year of unlimited continued mentoring.

How much time will training take each week?

There will be an hour of mandatory instruction at the beginning of each week. Beyond instruction, there will be reading assignments and homework on their own time. The homework will not be graded; however, it can be a benchmark for learning.

What is required of my Firm?
  • Guide Specs: Each firm will be required to have a master guide specification and software system for management of specs (VisiSpecs, Speclink, Master Spec, or other). If your firm does not currently have a guide spec I will set up presentations and assist in evaluating which system is best for your office.
  • In-House Supervisor: In order to gauge progress in skills, there needs to be a point person in house who can observe the trainee’s initiative, growth, and successful interaction with teams. This person would sit in on progress and evaluation discussions and also advise me on office-specific standards that may need additional attention. Ideally, the supervisor will be a project manager involved with the project the trainee is working on.
  • Project(s) to Work On: The trainee should have at least one if not several projects they can be fully engaged with. The expectation isn’t that they jump in and do a drawing take off! But being involved on a real project and putting their skills to use every day right away will encourage their learning.
When will Specifiers be replaced with BIM?
  • There is little evidence of investment (and possibly even interest) in developing this type of comprehensive ‘easy button’ program.
  • Traditional project delivery processes remain the most widely practiced and do not lend themselves to singular characters performing more roles in support of each other.
  • While plentiful, enforceable standards for detailed information structure and delivery pathway are not universally adopted, particularly for Building Information Modeling (BIM).
  • There is no endorsement by the persons who would be critically affected and simultaneously hold the knowledge to make the process informed and effective.

Matt Johnson, featured speaker “Agile in the Real World” symposium

"Empowering construction teams with specification knowledge."

Contact: sherry@trc-consultants.com