This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
The central figure in this transaction is the specification writer. His tact must arrange the conditions under which the work is to be done; his technical knowledge must supply the data, and set forth in clear, explicit language the description of the material which the contractor is to furnish and the owner is to accept. He is to be the arbitrator when any question arises affecting the interests of both in conflicting ways; and for his comfort the arbitration must be such that both sides will see its full justice. In order that the necessity for arbitration may arise as seldom as possible, it is the more necessary that all the conditions and questions liable to cause misunderstanding be fully studied and settled in the specification. It is the duty of the superintendent to see that the contractor follows out the requirements of the specification; but it is unfortunate to have the specification so loosely written that the requirements are ambiguous or at least not explicit and the contractor is made to feel that he is distrutsed, or that he is obliged to furnish materails or labor at a loss under an arbitrary decision, which, had he been more fully informed as to the detailed requirements, he would not have done.
(Particular attention is called to the following paragraph, as the advice contained therein is of the utmost value.)
Thus, the specification writer must be a man of tact and technical knowledge. It is outside the scope of this paper to discuss the former quality except in a most general way; but it will be its object so to treat the technical side that the student can develop such lines of thought as will enable him, whenever questions arise, to attack them from such points as will gain for him the necessary inside information; and it is in no sense its intent to set up such matter as will serve as models and forms to be applied to miscellaneous conditions. His training as a specification writer should be such as to accustom him to think in building material; and when the habit is formed, the student, in passing structures completed or in course of construction from day to day, will constantly find himself reasoning as to the use of various materials. This is technical education. No school, no matter how long or how thorough its course, will cover all the points to be decided in the first modest specification. All the training any school can give is to teach a man to think out the solution of his first and each succeeding commission along sound lines. This is the character of work which rouses enthusiasm in the worker and without which the work will amount to little.