Learning for Architects and Builders
The Birth of Spec-LAB
In July 2016, I opened Spec Services, LLC, with a two-fold purpose—both equally important:
1) Provide specifications services to architectural firms.
2) Raise up the next generation of specification writers.
The architectural community has always looked to registered architects to become spec writers, and yet there have never been enough spec writers. Meanwhile, because I myself had come into the role with no previous architectural education, I was more open to thinking outside the box.
Since specifications are produced through writing, I thought, “Why not look for someone who already likes writing and is trained in how to write correctly?” So I found English majors. Anyone trained in technical writing needs a topic about which to write. I could teach them the topic—architecture and construction.
We train from the ground up, assuming nothing is known or understood. I discovered that the training revolved around two major points: procedures and processes, and product and contract knowledge. We immediately put each new hire into the CDT study course, with a weekly CDT study group. So far, five have earned their CDT and three will be testing in December. I have found the CDT to be of ultimate importance for instilling a comprehensive understanding of the construction industry at large and of contract administration specifically.
We also do a lot of in-house training. Our trend has been to hold four one-hour sessions a week, where we continually expand our knowledge of products, systems, and assemblies, particularly as we encounter them in specifications writing.
When my husband, with whom we share office space, would see me conducting these training sessions, he suggested that they be filmed so that, as we hired more, I would not be constantly redoing the same work. Once we started accumulating these videos, the next logical question arose: who else could benefit from them?
And that was the birth of Spec-LAB.
Our vision is to provide foundational, introductory lessons which are easy for anyone to understand and take no more than three minutes of your truly precious time to watch.
The same principle undergirding Spec Services supports Spec-LAB: we aim to serve. We recognize a deep need in the construction world for simple, bite-sized education that bypasses the painful rites of initiation that have, until this point, been part and parcel of learning how to do your job in this industry. It’s true that great construction education is available out there, and from so many sources. But don’t we so often feel even an hour to be a large sacrifice of time, especially with deadlines hanging over our heads?
We decided to do something about it. The journey has been bumpy along the way, as it always is with worthwhile endeavors. But we believe that we will have succeeded, that it will all have been worth the effort, if your life is made even a little easier through our services to you.
To you we proudly present Spec-LAB, Learning for Architects and Builders.
8 ways to build your mind
Education Library - Video
Short, digestible videos created and organized with you and your time in mind.
Education Library - Audio
The narrations featured in the educational videos.
Education Library - Photo
Visual catalog of construction elements, including things you may not see every day.
An archive of guided specifications training sessions led by Susan Bliss
Interactive online events geared towards specifications training and problem-solving.
Explanations of the terms and lingo commonly used in the construction industry.
"What is this?" Videos
A growing feature video series describing various types of products.
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