The Consequences of a “Bad Specification” From the Perspective of the Mechanical Insulation Industry

You continually hear mechanical insulation contractors, and others, complaining about incomplete, outdated, or irrelevant mechanical insulation specifications (i.e., “bad specifications”).

Immediately you want to know, what is a bad versus a good specification and what are the advantages or consequences of both?

This article is written from the perspective of the mechanical insulation industry and focused primarily on new construction. The comments or opinions addressed herein may or may not apply to all industries. It is not intended to find fault with any specifying organization or individual but to address the confusing or conflicting information that is found in some project specifications. The ultimate objective being that over time, the reference to bad specifications will become less and less.

A specification is a set of documented requirements to be satisfied by a material, design, product, or service. A good specification should clearly communicate the design objectives, materials, thicknesses, finishes, securements, and other insulation system installation requirements.

While specification formats can vary between the commercial or building and the industrial market—and of course the person or firm developing the specification—there are a few basic principles that apply to just about all mechanical insulation specifications.

The function of mechanical insulation specifications is to define the basic requirements for quality of products, materials, and workmanship. Therefore, mechanical insulation specification sections should not include “scope of work” statements. Excluding scope statements from specifications allows specification sections to focus on the technical requirements without encumbering them with contract requirements.

Read more about the impact of a bad specification.