How do I protect my design specification?

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you have produced a lighting specification it will be at risk from the time that it leaves your desk. Sometimes it’s the contractor trying to earn a bit more money by attempting a ‘like-for-like’ swap and hoping that no one notices. But it can also be a cultural issue that goes as far as the client’s desk – where everyone assumes that everyone else is trying to pull a fast one.

Here are some of the processes that can be put in place to help protect the design specification once it becomes part of the contract documentation and is outside of the specifier’s control.

Get your retaliation in early

Make it difficult for anyone to make changes without your say so. Assume that changes will be attempted and ensure that any changes to your specification require your approval – not just the approval of the cost consultants or the contractors. And make it a formal requirement, not just a verbal agreement across the project table.

Know who your friends are

Anyone who stands to benefit financially from changing your specification is not your friend. On this side of the table we can certainly put the contracts team, but we might also need to add the project manager and, occasionally, the client. Watch these characters like hawks because they are raptors.

On your side of the table are all those who stand to benefit from a well-designed project; the design team, from the architect to the kitchen planner. The client should be on your side of the table. If there’s any doubt, try and influence their decision-making to your way of thinking; they may want a cheaper project, but they NEED a good-looking job.

Wherever possible, link the lighting specification into the work of others. Coordinate lighting and architectural detailing to gain the support of the architect; make sure that the client approves and positively supports the major lighting details.

Be sensible

Don’t make it easy for others to criticise your specification. If you’ve specified exotic fixtures that are handmade in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains – and that’s just for the toilets – don’t be surprised if the rest of your specification gets attacked. Make decisions that re sound and defensible – and defend them.

Eyes and ears of others

There are other people around you who can help police a specification. The obvious eyes and ears are the manufacturers that are represented on your specification. Use them to great – and positive – advantage by making sure that they know what product is involved. They will do what they have to do to protect that specification . . . just be careful that they don’t get too greedy and try to switch product from other companies. It does happen.

Amerlux has an active sales support team that works alongside specifiers all around the world to assure that approved specifications are held and seen through to installation.

This question was answered by Bill Plageman - vice president of marketing and product management at Amerlux.

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