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Specifications Causing You Headaches?

Specification Mock up for client approval including sandscape, broom finish concrete, a wall, and sawcuts cast-in-place Denver Colorado.

Double-check your concrete specifications (specs.) to save time, assure quality, and clarify intent.

Case Study

Do you enjoy writing specifications? Do you ever wonder what is truly needed or what is redundant information? Since specifications may range from being lengthy and detailed to very short and brief, it’s hard to determine when information is necessary. Often, they include structural specifications but not necessarily aesthetic considerations. Both ways are fine as long as key details are included. Therefore, the key is to use proposals and specifications as communication devices through the bidding process.

So, let’s dive into a case study to understand the difference between a satisfactory and unsatisfactory specification. As a result, you will better the chances of getting accurate pricing and VE options without being overwhelmed.

Diving In

For instance, a design firm looking to install seat walls sends out their bid package. Our estimator reads the following in the specs.

All seat walls must include:

  • Board form finish
  • 90-degree expansion joints spaced every 20’ minimum
  • Smooth finish on top of wall
  • Poured in place with a 2% cross slope
  • 1’- 6” thick
  • Colored grey
  • Adjacent to landscape
Uncolored board form wall on monument sign.
Horizontal Boardform Wall option

Making a Proposal

After looking at the specifications listed, the estimator notices some missing information. As a result, coming up with an estimate is only possible by assuming those unidentified details. In this case, our estimator decides to make educated guesses based on what is common for board form seat walls aesthetically and structurally, in addition to the clues from the provided specification. Another item we at Colorado Hardscapes decide to provide is a menu of options and prices for the design firm to choose from. Consequently, any wrong assumptions may be addressed, and any VE options may be seen clearly in the proposal.

Priced options in the estimate may include:

  • Size of boards
  • Direction of wood grain
  • Heaviness of texture
  • Offsets of boards
  • Spacing between boards
  • Corner designs
  • Color mix
  • Wall height
  • Use of a manufactured formliner
  • Reinforcement
Short board form wall in residential courtyard
Vertical Boardform Wall option

End Result

Surely, this process could have gone a lot smoother with the inclusion of dimensions, aesthetic factors, and installation requirements from the start. Since there are endless possibilities, it is important to either have specific details included or price flexibility. Colorado Hardscapes wants your design needs taken care of, so we also try to provide a menu of options when key information is missing. However, if you find yourself confused about the products or services we provide, our design center and prequalification packets are available for you. Moreover, we have written a specification checklist to support a streamlined bidding process. Continue reading for a guideline on how to write your specifications. 

Spec Check

Preface: Each of these specification details can vary depending on the project and product. Nevertheless, consider the following lists to help answer potential construction inquiries. For example, specifications should determine how to identify the product, qualify a contractor, clearly define expectations, and compare the finished outcomes to the mock-up.

Basic Specifications

  • PSI of concrete
  • Thickness of concrete
  • Reinforcement
  • Color
  • Texture/Finish
  • Cures and Sealers
Samples of Color and Texture options

Design Aesthetics

  • Expansion Joints
  • Control Joint Spacing and Layout
  • Decorative Joint Specifics


Without a doubt, the best money spent on a project is on a mock-up. Once selections have been made from samples, it prevents miscommunications and sets clear expectations. Moreover, with the development of a mock-up, both parties have something physical to reference.

A good mock-up should show features such as:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Control Joints
  • Expansion Joints with Caulking
  • Edge Details
  • Any other details specific to the project
Mock up of final selections

Installer Qualifications

Evaluate concrete bids for compliance and quality in the winning contractor. Specialty and proprietary products can’t be installed by just anyone so making sure you have the best candidate is crucial. Furthermore, good concrete lasts a lifetime and a good contractor is proud to prove it.

Does the contractor have the following qualifications?

  • Strong experience and reputation
  • Projects similar to yours
  • Individual professional experience
  • Ability to supply samples
  • Willingness to develop mock-ups
  • Premium products and licenses required

Overall, by keeping these in mind, your bidding process will find you exactly what you’re looking for. Despite project variations, a quick checklist like this reduces the number of complications. To download a printable version of this checklist, click below.

Lastly, we provide different Bomanite Spec Documents for your reference. Being that our goal is to support you in developing your projects, we want to give you those resources. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

Colorado Hardscapes

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