Spec Sheet for New Construction Home

JoePodestaJune 19, 2013

I am in attorney review on a home. My attorney has a lot of questions. Mostly relating to the spec sheet which in his experience is inadequate. Every time we ask for more detail, he comes back with something very low grade and we need to negotiate for something medium grade. I really want to make sure I am asking all the right questions. The floor plan was designed by an architect and while not complete, I am mostly satisfied with it. Here is the spec sheet for the home, is there anything that is glaringly missing or I should request further detail on?

3,500 sq ft Kensington Model � Modified for 4 upper brs, 3rd full bath, 3-car side garage w/extended closet above and walk-out basement

Extras Charge- $16,200


Roof Selection of sample choice to include Timberline

Complete brick front fa�ade

Maintenance Free vinyl sample of choice to include gray

Blacktop driveway with ample room for large SUV to navigate

Paver walkway from driveway to front concrete porch

Andersen SilverLine windows throughout

Raised panel steel door w/2 glass side lites

200 sq ft rear deck

Leaders and gutters

Maintenance free soffits

Seeded front and rear lawn

Front and rear exterior outlets

Front and rear exterior hose bibs

Gas hookup for BBQ

Any trees buyers feel need to be removed will be removed by builder before closing

Underground utilities

Certified private well system

4 Bedroom private septic system


3-zone forced hot air

2 units of central air conditioning


Solid masonite interior doors throughout

5" Baseboard molding

Elongated Wellworth toilets in all bathrooms

31/4" #2 grade or better Hardwood Floors with stain choice throughout living space to include bedrooms

California style white wire shelving in all closets and pantry

15 Hi Hats

Cable and phone hookups in kitchen, fam rm, office and bedrooms

Basement with radon piping

Basement with sump pump insert

Choice of paint colors in 4 bedrooms, office and 4 baths

Cable and phone hookups in Kitchen, Office, Fam Rm and Bedrooms


9 ft ceilings

Open Entry foyer with walk-in closet

Study-Cost for French door/doors here?

Powder Rm

Completely wood- solid Oak Staircase

Closet or Mudroom in place of full bath next to powder rm

Crown molding in Din Rm and Liv Rm

Gas ready fireplace w/wood mantle in Family Rm


Merillat Kitchen Cabinetry

Stainless steel sink

Granite Countertops

Large kitchen pantry with shelving

Gas hookup for Gas Stove

Kitchen Island


Master Bedroom with walk-in closets extended over garage

Master Bath with Tara, Jacuzzi type tub and double vanity, stall shower, toilet

3 Additional Bedrooms

Small Office

Granite bathroom raised panel vanities

1 Private Bath

1 Main Bath w/double vanity (placement /size of laundry and baths/closets to be discussed)

Laundry Room

All 4 Bedrooms to include light/fan kit ready fixture and switches (fan provided by buyers and installed by builder)


Tile flooring $5 per ft and walls $4 per ft

Lighting allowance $500

Granite Countertops- All Granite "double blue" choice included or $4,000 allowance in kitchen

Kitchen cabinetry material - $20,000

$4,000 appliance allowance for kitchen

Kitchen faucet $200

$80 per sink for 4 bathrooms only (6 sinks)

$100 per faucet for (6 faucets)

Vanities-4 � 2 single and 2 double

Powder Rm- $200

Main bath-$300

Private bath-$300

Master Bath-$400

Granite - $40 per ft

Master Bath tub- $600

Shower? Plus $4 tile per ft /Diverter-$130 �standard tub allowance?


Gas Fireplace Inserts/log kit

Central Vacuum

Generator Hookup for whole home generator for well, hot water, kitchen, some lights?

* Basement with rough plumbing for full bath- $1,200

* 3-Car Garage (1 double door + 1 single door) $15,000

(Buyers to provide 2 garage door openers to be installed by builder/contractor)

Basement with poured concrete foundation -$12,000

Dimmers - $25 each

Receptacles-$60 each

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This is not a specification, it's an incomplete list of features with some brand names and unit prices. It would not be adequate for a contract.

It would help to know the climate.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 10:34PM
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We are in New Jersey. This was my concern. What would you suggest? Do you have an example?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Sophie Wheeler

An actual spec would read: Timberline HD shingles in customer choice of color will be used over 30 lb roofing felt. WR Grace ice and water shield used for last 7 feet before drip rail into gutters and under all valleys. Timberline HD cap shingles will be used over Cobra II ridge vents. All materials attached per manufacturers specs for fastening.

Specs list the specific brand and category of material as well as the supporting materials needed for the installation. They also incorporate all manufacturer's requirements for installation into the contract.

What you have is a partial list of possibly included vaguely delineated features, not specs. And it is a BIG RED FLAG.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 11:45PM
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$500 lighting allowance for a 3,500 sq ft home????
dude, you're getting shafted; run away

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 11:56PM
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I was thinking the exact same thing about lighting-that stood out to me the most. We just did chose ours for same size home-"average" fixtures and it cost us $4500. AND I bought the DR, a BR and kitchen pendants on my own! You also may want tp specify cabinets more- inlay, overlay, paneled sides, pull-outs etc. Windows in garage doors? Trim, wainscotting? Kitchen backsplash? Walnut stain on floor was extra. Word of advice: be as specific as possible- we are $25k 'over' at the end because our spec sheet was way more vague than yours and we had absolutely no clue what we would go over on. Ultimately we would do it all over again bc our builder does amazing work and the process has been incredibly smooth but I just wish I had known beforehand.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 6:27AM
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Anyone have any complete examples from their build they could share?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 6:47AM
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Sophie Wheeler

If you proceed with this builder, add at least 150K to your 20% contingency fee that you need in reserve. At least. Running away would be a much better approach than dealing with this doofus.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 7:38AM
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Either this builder is looking to shaft you or he has no idea what hell he is doing. I would be concerned about my attorney as well if he has not suggested running in the opposite direction already!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 7:42AM
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Our spec sheet was actually way more vague than yours but I'm glad we didn't run in the other direction. That being said, we already knew the quality and reputation of our builder in our town very well. But, I think we could've saved some $ on some extras if we knew more specifically what we wanted and what exactly he was including. As far as that goes tho, you often become an 'expert' at something after the first time you do it- that goes for planning your wedding, raising your 1st child vs your others, building your first home. We looked at our spec sheet and said, 'ok looks good'. But now that we're more familiar with a full build, we would know what to include/negotiate if we did it all over again. It certainly never hurts to be as specific as possible, let's be honest. IMO, if you're already $16k over before you even started, I think you should expect to be $20-25k over when all is said and done.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 8:14AM
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Joe, I wish I could share the spec details in the build contract we're under, but it is highly personalized and I can't risk exposing my identity. We're working with a small local builder of luxury custom homes, fwiw.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 10:42AM
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I'm not saying this will happen--but if you get any or all of the following, in the absence of anything to the contrary elsewhere in the contract, the builder will have satisfied the contract and you will have received what you paid for:

builder's choice (or your selection from builder's choices) of brick, mortar, joint tooling brick front facade
builder's definition of "ample room" for large SUV to navigate, and "navigate" can mean "travel on"
Andersen SilverLine windows throughout, without low-e coating, minimum allowable U-value and possibly appropriate solar heat gain coefficient
200 sq ft rear deck built with builder's selected thickness and species of wood and maybe it has a finish
Whatever soil is present after construction may be graded and will be seeded with builder's choice of seed age/mix and not necessarily watered
Solid masonite interior doors throughout with factory applied primer only
3 1/4" #2 grade or better Hardwood Floors with stain choice throughout living space to include bedrooms and one coat of polyurethane
15 Hi Hats that are not air tight and must not be in contact with insulation
Choice of paint colors in 4 bedrooms, office and 4 baths in one coat of builder's choice of paint brand over builder's choice of drywall finish level
5" deep 23 Gauge Stainless steel sink without sound insulation

If you're ok with that, go ahead, and you might not be "over" at all.

With good complete specifications in the contract, you'll end up closest to your expectations. You should only be "over" by tens of thousands of dollars if there's something unexpected found during excavation, some huge design deficiency/conflict, or if YOU change your mind on something fundamental or extensive or you're the reason for a big delay in the schedule. Unit prices can be helpful, if you're specific about what it is and how it's to be done, and the only variable is quantity. But anything that is already quantified in the drawings should be completely specified and part of the firm fixed price.

The part you're providing in the contract is specified: the amount of money. Any ambiguity in what the builder is to provide will be to the builder's favor and will amount to profit for him and frustration & disappointment for you. Even among friends it's essential to have a well-defined contract in a drawer, so that you'll hopefully never need to pull it out.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 1:09PM
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I've built custom homes with fewer details in the contract.

However, all the structure, mechanical and finishes and fittings were to be of at least equal quality (cost) to the specified model home.

If that's not the case, what you have is a bad joke--on you.

To add another example to those of other posters:

5" baseboard. So is that MDF or wood? What kind of wood? Paint or stain grade? Finger jointed or solid?

This post was edited by worthy on Thu, Jun 20, 13 at 20:18

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 8:13PM
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There is no model home. I appreciate all the comments. Please keep sharing. We are learning a lot.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 8:20PM
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Joe, as others have said, you have been furnished a "list of features", not a construction specification. Such lists may often be as misleading and confusing for what they omit as for what they claim to proscribe.

The language of your construction contract will determine the extent to which your "features" list governs and is binding, including recourse (if any) for errors, omissions and disagreements.

For examples of construction specifications, visit the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI).

Here's the Wiki definition for "Specification--Technical Standard". A key element of a legitimate specification is its three parts for each and every area of Work--General, Products and Execution:

Construction specifications in North America

Specifications in North America form part of the contract documents that accompany and govern the construction of a building. The guiding master document is the latest edition of MasterFormat. It is a consensus document that is jointly sponsored by two professional organisations: Construction Specifications Canada and Construction Specifications Institute.

While there is a tendency to believe that "Specs overrule Drawings" in the event of discrepancies between the text document and the drawings, the actual intent��"made explicit in the contract between the Owner and the Contractor��"is for the drawings and specifications to be complementary, together providing the information required for a complete facility.

The Specifications fall into 50 Divisions, or broad categories of work results involved in construction. The Divisions are subdivided into Sections, each one addressing a narrow scope of the construction work. For instance, firestopping is addressed in Section 078400 - Firestopping. It forms part of Division 07, which is Thermal and Moisture Protection. Division 07 also addresses building envelope and fireproofing work.

Each Section is subdivided into three distinct Parts: "General", "Products" and "Execution". The MasterFormat system can be successfully applied to residential, commercial, civil, and industrial construction.

Specifications can be either "performance-based", whereby the specifier restricts the text to stating the performance that must be achieved by the completed work, or "prescriptive", whereby the specifier indicates specific products, vendors and even contractors that are acceptable for each workscope. Most construction specifications are a combination of performance-based and prescriptive types, naming acceptable manufacturers and products while also specifying certain standards and design criteria that must be met.

While North American specifications are usually restricted to broad descriptions of the work, European ones can include actual work quantities, including such things as area of drywall to be built in square metres, like a bill of materials. This type of specification is a collaborative effort between a specwriter and a quantity surveyor. This approach is unusual in North America, where each bidder performs a quantity survey on the basis of both drawings and specifications.

Although specifications are usually issued by the architect's office, specwriting itself is undertaken by the architect and the various engineers or by specialist specwriters. Specwriting is often a distinct professional trade, with professional certifications such as "Certified Construction Specifier" (CCS) through the professional organizations noted above. Specwriters are either employees of or sub-contractors to architects, engineers, or construction management companies. Specwriters frequently meet with manufacturers of building materials who seek to have their products specified on upcoming construction projects so that contractors can include their products in the estimates leading to their proposals.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 8:51AM
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I could never show you my spec sheet because it is about 24 pages of legal sized pages outlining each detail...

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 11:18AM
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This is my favorite.
"Basement with poured concrete foundation -$12,000"
That whole list seems like your ordering from one those concession stands at the carnival.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:21AM
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The specification format Virgil describes is one that an owner and his agents would write and include in a bid package and would not usually be offered to a homeowner by a design-build contractor. It is common for such a contractor/developer to offer only a list of features; this just happens to be an unusually poorly written one. It doesn't mean the work will be bad but it does mean the OP will have little recourse if it is.

As for sample project specifications, I was once on a very professional construction forum where the moderator asked for specification examples and no one would offer theirs. The general consensus was that it represented too much hard earned knowledge and effort to give away.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 6:39

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 6:33AM
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Does anyone have an example of a complete detailed specification sheet that they would be willing to share? Thanks much!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:50PM
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