The Art of Specifications

10 July 2024

While specification writing is often a challenge that practices struggle to fully resource, SLCspec has built a passionate team of architectural professionals who are dedicated to this critical work. General Manager Sophie Rodgers takes us through the genesis of the company, the joy of taking on diverse project work, and the opportunities found in the modern construction industry.

What was the genesis of SCLspec, what type of work do you do, and who are your main clients?

SCLspec was established in 2013 to specialise in preparing architectural specifications, filling an under-served niche. While specification writing is often a challenge that architecture firms struggle to fully resource, we have built a passionate team dedicated to it. With over 150 clients primarily in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, we work on a range of projects from multi-residential developments to major transport networks. Our genesis was prompted by a recognition of the need for specialists to handle the complex specification requirements for which practices frequently lack adequate staffing.

What was it about SCLspec that drew you to the company?

The company attracts detail-oriented professionals passionate about the built environment and architecture. A key draw is the opportunity to work across major local and international projects, making it an exciting business to be part of. SCLspec seeks candidates with that synergy of design enthusiasm coupled with a meticulous eye for detail. When we identify people exemplifying both a passion for the craft and an affinity for precision, we know they’ll be an excellent fit. The varied, high-profile project work combined with the niche focus on the crucial yet detail-intensive specification realm appeals to this specialised architectural professional.

What does a typical day look like for SCLspec?

No two days are alike due to our diverse workload. Our project teams meet with clients, facilitate kick-off meetings to review scope and required specification content. We utilise custom software to manage projects, develop schedules and specifications, while giving clients access to monitor our workflow and provide feedback. Staying up to date on industry changes is crucial, so we dedicate time reviewing and responding to updates while maintaining our specification baselines – the foundational structure and content for each project. Client meetings are frequent as we embed ourselves into their project teams, acting as an extension of their workforce. Research and advisory roles are also key, constantly building knowledge on the latest products and materials. With such a varied array of tasks, from client collaboration to project management to ongoing research, every day is busy without a dull moment.

What key advice would you give to architects about specification and risk management?

Don’t rely on copy-pasting to produce your specifications! We know this widespread practice puts projects at risk. Specifications are rarely an apples-to-apples scenario, so at minimum, a peer review is essential to catch discrepancies. From our perspective, the best way to safeguard your projects and specifications is to engage a consultancy like ours. Even if you don’t need us to produce the full specifications, we can review and provide feedback on what you’ve created to mitigate risks. If you’re intent on handling specification writing in-house, you can consult us for training and professional development. We can provide comprehensive guidance on best practices for specification development, ensuring your team is well-equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle scheduling and specification writing effectively. Our expertise can elevate your internal capabilities to meet industry standards and protect your projects.

What do you see as the main challenges for the architecture profession – short term and long term? Where are the opportunities?

In the architecture profession, immediate challenges such as rising material costs and builder insolvency demand innovative solutions. Looking ahead, architects have significant opportunities in sustainable design and cost management. By adopting material advancements, leveraging technologies like BIM, and optimising construction methods, architects can lead in resilient, environmentally friendly practices. Viewing these challenges as drivers of innovation positions architects to create value for clients and communities, contributing to a sustainable future. Our daily interaction with architectural practices allows us to tailor our services to support their responses to these ongoing industry dynamics effectively.