Useful Construction Guidelines

Construction Guidelines

Codes help to ensure that buildings are constructed with health, safety and basic comfort in mind. They also contribute to a healthier construction industry and higher property values and reduce the need for public or private disaster relief.

The table below illustrates a 22-year useful life for a building component based on the calculation of Column B (% of total construction) and Column C (Life-Cycle Years). The campus may adjust this value to suit its needs.


Construction projects are complex and time consuming, so it’s important that all parties communicate effectively throughout the project. Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstandings, errors, and costly delays. To ensure clear communication, it’s best to establish methods of communication early on and use those throughout the project. This includes communication logs, meeting minutes, delivery logs and requests for information (RFIs). By using these tools, construction teams can work together more efficiently.

While construction managers are responsible for ensuring quality performance, the owners of a project also play an active role in the construction process. Their decisions can have a significant impact on the cost, schedule and quality of a facility’s construction. This is why it’s crucial for owners to set clear objectives and communicate them clearly with all stakeholders.

For example, the GIKEN Group has established Construction Good Practice Standards, which aim to influence greater commitment of decision makers and implementers to eliminating false economies, shortcuts and lack of oversight that limit public safety and decrease sustainability and resilience of buildings. It is also important for owners to understand the importance of the design and construction process, and how their decisions can affect it.

In particular, they should make sure that new construction does not destroy character defining building and landscape features. They should also remember that historic preservation is a continuous process and that future change will continue to occur. It is therefore critical that they recognize the significance of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and incorporate them into their planning. It is important to note that the Standards should be viewed as a starting point, rather than an absolute guideline.


Specifications are documents that outline detailed aspects of construction projects and ensure all parties involved understand the work to be completed. They can help prevent miscommunication between contractors and clients, which often leads to costly delays. They also help contractors more accurately price the services they will provide and guarantee that they receive fair compensation for their work. This helps to reduce the risk of disputes and potential litigation that can occur when contracts are unclear.

There are many types of specifications, including standard, general, and detailed. General specifications are usually set by industry standards, such as those issued by the American Welding Society and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). These specifications typically include a listing of the materials to be used in a project and a description of the work that must be performed. General specs are often modified to meet local conditions, policies, available products and materials, and other special circumstances that may arise during a project.

A detailed spec is similar to a general spec, except it includes more specific product information. It can be used when the client has little or no experience working on large-scale construction projects, and therefore needs more guidance. The details in a detailed spec are often so specific that they may be difficult to read, but they can save time and money by eliminating the need for lengthy discussions during the bid process.

Detailed specifications can either be prescriptive or performance-based. A prescriptive spec describes required materials (including product options) and installation methods, while a performance spec requires that the specified work perform to a particular level.

When writing a specification, it is important to use a standard format that is widely accepted in the construction industry. CSI and CSC publish a document called MasterFormat, which provides a structure for assigning numbers and titles to specification sections. This allows the sections to be organized in a logical manner and to avoid duplication of requirements within the contract documents. The drafting of a specification should start early in the design process, so that it can be modified and completed as the design develops.


Construction projects often have a bidding process that involves competitively awarding contracts to vendors with the best value. Most major construction contracts use a method that requests both a Technical or Management Proposal and a Price Proposal, which are then evaluated to determine the best bid for the project. Tradeoffs are sometimes made and discussion/negotiation is held to clarify pricing, make adjustments in the bid and discuss alternative ways to improve the project or its cost.

During the bidding process, focus on building relationships with the people who make decisions to award work. This will help you establish trust and gain a foothold in the business, making it easier to win future contracts.

It’s also a good idea to perform a risk assessment of each opportunity. Identify any potential red flags that could prevent you from performing the job if awarded the contract, such as unknown site conditions, safety concerns and accelerated timelines.

Be sure to include all the relevant information in your proposal. This includes your company’s past projects, management plans and track record for completing jobs on time. You’ll also want to provide a cost estimate based on the bill of quantities and blueprints. Cost estimates can be arrived at using estimation software and are a great way to differentiate your proposal from the competition.

Lastly, don’t forget to provide the necessary paperwork and documents required by the customer. Failure to do this is a quick way to have your bid rejected. This can include everything from a bid bond to acknowledging receipt of any addenda that have been issued.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a winning bid can be rejected if the company doesn’t meet the requirements of the contract. Ensure that you’re familiar with the contract type, such as unit prices, lump sum contracts or cost-plus contracts and be sure to set the right expectations for the project. By clearly defining the intended scope of work in your proposal, you’ll reduce the likelihood of clients setting unreasonable expectations that can lead to disputes and project delays.


When a project is awarded to a contractor, the contract documents will lay out the terms and conditions that the parties agree to in order to conduct business on this project. The contract documents will usually include a general agreement, a set of standard forms like those from AIA or ConsensusDocs and a set of project-specific terms. These terms will lay out how the project should be performed, including who is responsible for certain activities, and what happens if one of these parties is not meeting its obligations.

The contract also may contain work change orders, which are requests to change the original scope of the project that was presented in the bidding process. The contract will typically specify a maximum project cost and the amount of time for completion. Contractors will use different markups to reflect their market circumstances and the risks they take on individual projects, resulting in differing contract prices at the bid time. Often, the contract will provide the contractor with incentives to reduce costs as much as possible, though the owner must be careful not to allow this to jeopardize project performance or safety.

Another factor that influences contractor estimating and bidding is the availability of contractors to perform the work. The number of contractors bidding on a particular project may be greater when the demand for construction is higher in a specific submarket. In addition, contractors will tend to specialize in the type of work they do and focus their activity on specific geographic locations. The level of scarcity in a particular submarket will affect the number of projects that can be bid and the number of contracts awarded at any given time.

If an agency is planning to award a large number of projects and expects limited contractor participation, it can help to develop guidelines for selecting the most competitive bids. This could include a policy of rejecting non-competitive bids or requiring a public hearing to determine whether to select the lowest bidder. In addition, the agency should consider a policy to keep an engineer’s estimate confidential until the contract is awarded. This will help to protect the agency from being exposed to claims by contractors that it unfairly received an advantage in a competitive bid process.