Monday, November 25, 2013

Spec Writing Isn't Just a Living. It's Entertainment.

Spec writing isn't just a living. It's entertainment. For me, at least.

I’m sure there are other roles in the AEC industry that provide professional fulfillment, satisfaction and entertainment. Structural engineers, for example, may get to design unusual, one-of-a-kind structures or modifications to existing buildings, and the satisfaction of having designed an ingenious, structurally efficient, solution. HVAC engineers, especially with today’s emphasis on energy efficiency, are in a unique position to have a positive impact on the future by reforming the way we use energy in buildings.  Ditto plumbing engineers and the use of scarce water resources.  And electrical engineers and their potential influence on better and more efficient lighting.  And technology designers with smart systems for buildings. Etc., etc.

Back to spec writing. I think I’m very lucky to be a spec writer at this point in AEC history. Not only do I get to work on projects both large and small, easy and tricky, fast-paced and slow-paced, I get to do this at a time when the very form of contract documents is about to experience profound change. A change from paper-based documents you can hold in your hands, to electronic file-based documents stored in the cloud and accessible to a wide-ranging team of project designers, builders, and the ownership team. And as a spec writer, I get to help build the bridge from the old way of doing things to the new way.

Our local Northern Illinois Public Radio station, WNIJ - DeKalb Rockford, has as its motto “Where you learn something new every day”.

That’s what spec writing is for me. Learning something new every day.  Or several somethings.

If you want to be a meaningful part of the AEC business, consider looking for opportunities to get into spec writing, either full time or as an adjunct to another role.  Don’t worry about little things like memorizing those pesky CSI format numbers. Repeated use of the system will sear most of the numbers into your memory anyway.  

To be a spec writer, you do have to be a good, detail-oriented, critical reader, as well as a careful writer, and a ruthless editor.  But fear not.  You’ll find that most CSI members are almost pathologically eager to help and mentor you.


  1. I agree most heartily! Indeed, I feel lucky and after the frustrations wear off each day, in all, it is entertaining in that there seems to never be a dull moment. The motto is appropriate. It seems I do learn something new each day...if I pay attention.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Nice to hear from you, Chuck. Spec writing is such an interesting part of architectural practice that I remain surprised that so few people are drawn to it.