Q. Why is NATSPEC a subscription service?
A. NATSPEC references a lot of external documents, mainly Australian Standards, and these are constantly changing. We follow and keep all these references up-to-date with the NATSPEC system so you know when you go to write a specification that the references are current.
Q. How long am I signing up for?
A. The initial subscription period is for 2 years. Ongoing payment is quarterly by direct debit only or annually on receipt of an invoice. Your subscription continues until either of us cancels in writing.
Q. Does NATSPEC work on both Windows and Macintosh?
A. Yes. If you have Microsoft Word you can use NATSPEC. NATSPEC's Template files are supplied in Microsoft Word *.docx format. The compilation system, SPECbuilder Live, is compatible with all versions of Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems. However, only Word 2003 and earlier users can use SPECbuilder Pro (available with CD only) to compile a new project specification.
Q. What is SPECbuilder?
A. SPECbuilder is a specification compilation software program that allows you to:
- Create new specifications using NATSPEC and office-edited worksections.
- Edit, merge and set styles for your specification documents.
SPECbuilder Pro is supplied with your subscription CD.
SPECbuilder Live is the online version.
Please see QUICKstart for more information.
Q. What are the minimum requirements to use NATSPEC?
A. Microsoft Word: Microsoft Word 2003 or later, internet access and a browser.
Q. How do I subscribe?
A. Simply complete the Subscription Order Form and email or fax this form to us. You will receive a password for online access by email and we will mail to you your subscription package which includes the NATSPEC CD.
P.S. Don't forget to sign that you've read the sub conditions.
Q. Can I use NATSPEC to write specifications commercially?
A. Yes. You need to be a current subscriber to NATSPEC and have read and signed the NATSPEC Bureau agreement. Please call us on 1300 797 142 for further information.
Q. We have lots of offices, do you offer discounts?
A. As a not-for-profit organisation we do not discount our subscriptions but we do offer a National Subscription. Please call us on 1300 797 142 for further information.
Q. How do I upgrade/downgrade from one package to another?
A. To Upgrade to another package: Fill out and sign another Subscription Order Form for the new package. Email or fax this form to NATSPEC, clearly stating that it is an upgrade and not an addition. We will work out the pro-rata difference owing and inform you of the amount to be paid/invoiced. Online access to the new package can be available once the paperwork is done and a CD will be posted that same day.
To Downgrade to another package: As for Upgrading to another package, except a cancellation letter needs to be signed stating that the material from the previous package will not be used in a new project. We will work out the pro-rata difference owing and refund you the amount.
Q. Is NATSPEC SIMPLE Domestic accepted by local councils for Construction Certificate applications?
A. Yes. It is also endorsed by the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS), Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) and Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS).
Q. Where can I buy the SIMPLE Domestic books?
A. SIMPLE Domestic can be purchased directly from NATSPEC. Some booksellers and some local councils also stock SIMPLE Domestic for sale.
Q. What is the difference between SIMPLE Domestic and the BUILDING Domestic subscription?
A. The main difference is that SIMPLE Domestic is aimed at the owner builder, someone with no design experience who requires a specification for council. It is a reference document and cannot be edited. All of the project-specific material must be located on the drawings. The BUILDING Domestic subscription is for professional designers doing domestic projects. The BUILDING Domestic is supplied in Microsoft Word format for ease of editing.
Q. Can I purchase a PDF copy of SIMPLE Domestic?
A. Yes. SIMPLE Domestic is available as a PDF file for a particular project. We will require the Job number and/or the Project Address and the information will be watermarked on the PDF. It is $99.00. Just fill out the Publications Order Form and email/fax/send back to us and the PDF will be emailed to you. The document can be printed as many times as required but only used on the specified job.
Q. What is the difference between NATSPEC and AUS-SPEC?
A. The NATSPEC specification system is for all building construction with specialist packages for architects, interior designers, landscape architects, structural engineers, service engineers and domestic owners. AUS-SPEC is the Local Government specification system for the life-cycle management of assets. AUS-SPEC includes design, construction and maintenance worksections for each asset. The AUS-SPEC Buildings package includes the NATSPEC Building Basic and the AUS-SPEC Urban and Open Spaces package includes NATSPEC Landscape.
Q. How often is NATSPEC and AUS-SPEC updated?
A. NATSPEC is updated twice a year, in April and October. AUS-SPEC is updated yearly in October.
Q. Can I purchase a single worksection?
A. Yes. Single worksections which are not included in your subscription can be purchased for $99.00 each. These are one-off purchases and not considered part of your package and therefore not updated. Just fill out the Publications Order Form and email/fax/send back to us and the Microsoft Word file will be emailed to you.
Q. Does NATSPEC have a package/subscription which provides access to Australian Standards?
A. No. Members of the Australian Institute of Architects are able to upgrade to an A+ Membership which includes read-only access to Australian Standards online.
Q. Do you supply a digital copy of SIMPLE Domestic that I can put an address on for ‘presentation purposes’?
A. No. Some Councils now have paperless submission requirements. If people request SIMPLE Domestic electronically we will sell them a PDF under the following conditions:
- We require the DA, Permit Number, Job Number, etc. and/or the Street Address of the Project.
- The cost is $99.00.
- It can be printed as many times as required but only used for the specified job.
- Job details are added to the PDF as a watermark and copying is turned off.
Q. Is there a worksection on lifts in NATSPEC?
A. Yes, the worksection was released in the October 2016 update.
Q. Why aren't the Workstations, Miscellaneous furniture, etc. worksections included in the Basic package?
A. NATSPEC tries to tailor its packages to meet the probable requirements of the majority of a particular user group. While we generally find that we get the mix about right, it is inevitable with the wide variety of work undertaken by different practices that some subscribers will sometimes require a worksection that is not in their package. Subscribers can always buy a worksection outright for $99 including GST. Another alternative is to adapt another related worksection such as Joinery.
Q. What happened to 0015 Referenced documents?
A. The 0015 Referenced documents worksection was withdrawn in October 2012. All information contained in 0115 Reference documents is available in NATsource - one of the PDF reference documents provided as part of all NATSPEC packages. NATsource also includes Standards’ abstracts, sources and recommended standards lists for individual consultants’ use.
Q. How can I provide feedback or be involved in the NATSPEC review process?
Q. How do I write a Design and Construct (D&C) specification?
A. In any project, including D&C, the specification sets the level of quality for the project. In a D&C project, the specification will be largely a performance specification and not a traditional descriptive or proprietary specification.
All specifications inherently include many components and systems where the design is the responsibility of the contractor. For example, in a traditional specification, the sizing and selection of window mullions, ceiling support systems, switchboards, sizing of glass thickness etc. include a performance specification which places a design responsibility on the contractor.
The D&C specification must include:
- Client’s briefing information.
- Design performance standards/guidelines.
- System performance standards/guidelines.
- Product and Execution quality specifications.
- Verification processes.
The extent of documentation will depend on the type and size of the project, and the client’s documented requirements.
The TECHreport Specifying design and construct mechanical services outlines how NATSPEC may be used to prepare design and construct mechanical specifications. It discusses some of the issues and presents a range of approaches for preparing these specifications which are generally applicable to other worksections.
Q. Where is the 0554 Stairs, ladders and walkways worksection?
A. The 0554 Stairs, ladders and walkways worksection was deleted and the text distributed to the following worksections:
0552 Metalwork - fabricated: Metal stairs, balustrades and handrails.
0551 Joinery: Timber stairs and balustrades.
0612 Cementitious toppings: Granolithic toppings for stairs.
0651 Resilient finishes: Resilient finishes for stairs.
0652 Carpets: Carpet for stairs.
This change recognises that stairs of differing materials are assembled by different specialist fabricators. Branded worksection MODDEX steel handrails, guardrails, balustrades and other barriers is retained under the 0554 Classification number.
Q. I don’t understand the cross referencing in General requirements, could you please clarify?
A. Within the specification there is a hierarchy of worksections as follows:
- General requirements: Umbrella requirements for all building and services worksections.
- Common requirements: Requirements for commonly used materials applicable to all worksections.
- Worksections generally: Requirements for materials and systems for particular building and services elements.
In the 0171 General requirements worksection you would only list worksections cross referenced by this worksection after project specific customising. The common requirements are cross referenced in 0171 General requirements so that they do not have to be repeated in all other worksections. It is assumed that the Head Contractor provides a copy of the 0171 General requirements worksection to all subcontractors. Common requirements not applicable to the project should be deleted.
Q. What are the designer’s WHS requirements for identifying risks?
A. This WHS requirement is a mandatory requirement and would therefore not necessarily need to be included within the construction specification. However, we have dealt with this requirement within NATSPEC in our 0121 Tendering worksection template. A WHS Safety Report (Designers risk assessment) would be provided to Contractors as part of the project information tender documentation. We have allowed for this requirement and included some related Guidance text within the 0121 Tendering worksection template.
We have also updated some Guidance text within our 0171 General requirements worksection template, to reflect these updated WHS requirements. A copy of this updated Guidance text is also attached for your information. This will also be included in our October 13 Update.
Q. What is the status of previous AUS-SPEC licences?
A. NATSPEC has no responsibility regarding pre-September 2007 licences and therefore assumes your past licence conditions still hold. Under the new licence subscribers may NOT distribute editable versions of AUS-SPEC to non-subscribers.
Q. How does the pre-September 2007 and new AUS-SPEC differ?
A. This Comparison table lists the old AUS-SPEC specification numbers and titles with the new specification numbers and titles, together with their location in New packages.
Q. Where do I find AUS-SPEC # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6A and 6B?
A. AUS-SPEC # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6A and 6B are now part of different AUS-SPEC packages. Refer to the Comparison table.
Q. Can AUS-SPEC be distributed?
A. Councils may distribute, in non-editable formats, amended relevant worksections to consultants or contractors who undertake works for Council or works which Council later accepts, such as residential subdivisions, and will not be in contravention of the licence agreement. However, if the receiver is expected to produce and be responsible for a specification based on AUS-SPEC, a relevant NATSPEC subscription should be a condition of engagement. This makes sure the consultant's information is up-to-date and in line with the requirements of Council. Currently state, territory and federal government bodies check that consultants are subscribers by viewing the subscriber list on www.natspec.com.au. If their consultant is not a subscriber, Council then requests the consultant to become a subscriber. Usually this requirement is part of the Council’s contract with the consultant.
Councils assist AUS-SPEC copyright protection by preventing downloading of the specification by those not involved in the projects. It is recommended that if you wish to place pdf versions of your specification on your website, it needs to be within a secure section requiring registration. This does not necessitate individual passwords.
As a not-for-profit organisation NATSPEC depends on subscription income to fund updating and development of information. Without consultants paying for the specifications, the price to Local Councils will need to be increased.
Q. Can I buy a single worksection?
A. If Council asks a consultant/contractor to comply with AUS-SPEC for a single project, and you do not wish to subscribe to the AUS-SPEC packages but require a single worksection for the specific project a single worksection can be purchased for $99 (including GST) instead of subscribing to a package. This worksection will not be updated. It is the purchaser’s responsibility to make sure they purchase the latest version.
Q. What is included in each package?
A. AUS-SPEC is available in seven packages. The following packages are available:
Complete (which includes all the packages); Contracts; Urban and open spaces; Buildings; Roadworks and bridges; Public utilities and Maintenance (non-parks).
Q. What does each package consist of?
A. The National Worksection Matrix provides a complete list of worksections included as part of each package and allows a comparison of packages.
Q. Where can I find 306U?
A. 306U Road openings and restorations utilities was part of the superseded AUS-SPEC#1. It is now aligned to the National Classification System with the new classification number of 1152 Road openings and restorations (Utilities). Refer to the Comparison table.
Q. Can I use SPECbuilder Live for AUS-SPEC?
A. SPECbuilder Live is available for AUS-SPEC subscribers. Subscribers can access SPECbuilder Live through the homepage of the NATSPEC website. SPECbuilder Live guide, a step-by step guide is also available on the web.
Q. How do I know whether it is a NATSPEC or an AUS-SPEC worksection?
A. The following workgroups distinguish between NATSPEC and AUS-SPEC worksections by including the suffix (AUS-SPEC) to identify AUS-SPEC worksection within a particular workgroup.
Workgroup 00 Planning and design is exclusively for AUS-SPEC design worksections.
Workgroups 01 - 03 include NATSPEC and AUS-SPEC building construction worksections.
Workgroups 04 - 09 include NATSPEC building construction worksections.
Workgroups 11-13 include entirely AUS-SPEC construction worksections and
Workgroups 11-18 include entirely AUS-SPEC maintenance worksections.
Q. Can I use AUS-SPEC for different types of contracts?
A. AUS-SPEC can be used for the following contract requirements:
- Conditions of contract (Tendering)
- Quality control: Quality System (Assurance) or Integrated Management System Control
- Method of Payment: Schedule of Rates or Lump Sum.
Q. What are TECHguides?
A. TECHguides provide roadmaps and examples of documentation for local government projects. They include information on contracts, technical specifications and tender submission requirements. They should be read before starting project documentation. They are included in the Resource Materials/AUS-SPEC folder in SPECbuilder Live in pdf format and can be printed as required.
Q. Can the TECHguides be customised?
A. TECHguides are reference documents and cannot be customised.
Q. How do I know what has changed since the last Update?
A. The AUS-SPEC Update summary available in the Resource Materials/AUS-SPEC folder of SPECbuilder Live, provides a summary of the global changes made to all the worksections as well as a detailed summary of changes on a clause by clause basis since the last update. The AUS-SPEC pdf documents also show the changes as highlighted text since the last update.
Q. How can I provide feedback or be involved in the AUS-SPEC review process?
Q. Can I customise the worksections?
A. AUS-SPEC worksections are only templates. For each project the specifier will need to select the appropriate worksections and edit the material to suit the project. This may include deleting inappropriate material or adding text. It is the responsibility of the user to complete it appropriately and check for applicability for local conditions and regulations.
Q. What do I do if there is no worksection to cover what I require?
A. You can create your own worksections and give it a four digit number so that it aligns to the NATSPEC classification structure and is located in the appropriate workgroup. If the content required for the project does not exist in the current NATSPEC worksections, either add required text to the existing worksections or provide new worksections using the NATSPEC structure, terminology and format.
Q. Can I change the ‘Pay Items’ to align with our internal schedules?
A. Yes. You can change and also add additional pay items to the Pay items clause of each worksection but you need to ensure that the Pay items aligns with the 0151 Schedule of rates worksection.
Q. What is a worksection?
A. A worksection is a section of the works, trade or working sequences on-site. Worksections or trade sections are of contractual interest to the contractors and of practical interest to the subcontractors and suppliers.
Q. What is green or Guidance text in the worksections?
A. Guidance text is included in the worksection file to assist or prompt the specification writer regarding content. It appears as boxed, green text unless hidden. Guidance can be displayed, hidden and/or permanently deleted using the NATSPEC toolbar. Delete Hidden text before issuing the final document.
Q. What is blue or Optional text?
A. Optional text is included in the worksection file as sample text for inclusion in a customised specification. It is a type of Hidden text and appears as blue, shaded text unless hidden. Optional text can be displayed, hidden and/or permanently deleted. If you wish to include the text in your specification, you must change the text style by highlighting and selecting a non-hidden-text style.
Q. What is a TECHreport and a TECHnote?
A. A TECHreport e.g. Specifying ESD is an in-depth report prepared by NATSPEC providing general information on specification writing, and technical information on a topic that relates to more than one worksection.
A TECHnote is a one or two page note prepared by NATSPEC providing general information on specification writing or technical information relating to more than one worksection.
TECHnotes are grouped into three categories: General (GEN), Design (DES) and Products (PRO).
Q. How do I know what has changed in the last Update?
A. There is an Update Summary document located under Resource material/Current Update Information that lists the worksections that have had changes. The specific changes are highlighted in a series of PDF documents located Resource material/Worksections/Your package.
Q. Why do some worksections have a "b", "p" or "s" after the classification code?
A. The b stands for ‘Basic’. Professional subscribers also receive the Basic versions of some worksections to use on simpler projects e.g. 0315b Concrete finishes.
The p stands for 'Product Partner' or branded worksection e.g. 0429p SOLATUBE tubular daylighting devices and skylights.
The s stands for ‘shell’. Basic subscribers also receive a number of worksection "Shells". They are there so that, if you wish to add your specific requirements or the specialist consultant's specification, the "Shell" would act as a prompt e.g. 0812s Tapware.
Q. This is my first specification and I'm not sure how to start, what do I do?
A. Download and read the SPECbuilder Live Guide.
Refer to the QUICKstart guide for information on how to check your package contents, understand the structure of NATSPEC and use SPECbuilder to create a draft specification.
Also have a look at the Specification Writing paper and Word Processing and Production paper.
Q. There are some worksections with manufacturer's names - what are these and how do I use them?
A. These are what we term Branded Worskections. Certain manufacturers have paid us to write a NATSPEC worksection based around their product. These worksections have been written by NATSPEC. The benefit of using a branded worksection over a generic worksection would be that the branded worksection is mostly completed for you, you just need to delete the products you aren't using.
Q. How do I find a relevant topic or worksection detail in my subscription package?
A. Your subscription includes the worksections in Microsoft Word format (copies of which you can edit for a project specification), and a number of reference documents in Acrobat format. The PDF files can be found in Resource Materials (SPECbuilder Live) and Acrobat documents (SPECbuilder Pro).
Included with the Acrobat documents is a folder of Workgroup files of your package. Using the Search feature in Acrobat, you can search for a word, phrase, or any combination of words. This file, and all the other Acrobat documents, are fully searchable.
You can also use the National Worksection Matrix and the Building Worksection Abstracts to locate the worksections that are available.
Q. Where do I locate the referenced TECHnotes and TECHreports?
A. This video shows where to find TECHnotes and TECHreports in Resource Materials (SPECbuilder Live).
Have a look at the Specification Writing paper for steps and tips on writing a specification.
Q. I'm a BUILDING Domestic subscriber, why can't I see Create a Project after logging in?
A. BUILDING Domestic subscribers don't see Create a Project as BUILDING Domestic is supplied to you in a single Word file. You simply download the file and begin editing. For further instruction see the DOMESTIC QUICKstart guide.
Q. How do I login to SPECbuilder Live?
A. From the NATSPEC Homepage, click on the SPECbuilder Live link to take you to the SPECbuilder Login page. Enter your registered email address and type in your password. If you don't already have a password click on I forgot my password and a new password will be emailed to you (if you don't immediately receive an email please check your Junk Email folder as this email is automatically generated).
Q. Can we have multiple logins for SPECbuilder Live?
A. Yes. Within the same office, you can have as many logins as you require. The video shows you how to add another member.
Q. I don't like the password assigned, can I change it?
A. Yes. Login to SPECbuilder Live, click the Members tab, click the List tab, click the Member whose password you wish to change, click the Member Details tab, type and retype the desired password in the appropriate text boxes and press Save.
Q. Where do I locate the referenced TECHnotes and TECHreports?
A. This video shows where to find TECHnotes and TECHreports in Resource Materials (SPECbuilder Live).
Q. How do I add or remove worksections from my project in SPECbuilder Live?
A. Login to SPECbuilder Live, click Browse Projects, select the project to be amended, click Edit. Select Remove if removing worksections and at the bottom of the edit screen type in the worksections required to be added. The system will insert the selected worksections in classification order. Click Download Project. NOTE: This will download the entire project. Open the zip file, and copy just the files added and the updated merged document to your project folder. DO NOT copy over worksections that have been already edited.
Q. I don't want to use SPECbuilder, I just want access to my files, how can I do this?
A. SPECbuilder Live is a compilation program and online delivery system. You can use it to compile a draft specification. If you wish to download your entire package so that it is local rather than online do the following:
- Login to SPECbuilder Live
- Click on Resource Materials
- Click on the left arrow to expand the Package zip files folder
- Click on "Your package" zip file to download it to your computer (using your Browser download function)
- Once the file is downloaded, unzip/extract the file and copy it to wherever you wish to keep the files for access.
Download the Specification Wordprocessing and Production paper.
Q. What version of Word are you using?
A. There are 6 versions of Microsoft Word currently in use:
Windows: There is Word 2003, Word 2007, Word 2010, Word 2013, 2016.
Macintosh: There is Word 2008 and Word 2011.
If you're not sure what you are using the program will usually tell you:
Word 2013: Click File tab, choose Account and click About Word button.
Word 2010: Click File tab, choose Help.
Word 2008 & 2011: Click the Word menu and choose About Word.
Word Version 2003 native format is *.doc and the other versions use the new format *.docx.
Q. How do I add the NATSPEC Toolbar?
A. For the NATSPEC Toolbar to work, ensure that your document is attached to the natspec.dotm file.
- Download the Toolbar file (NATSPECui.exportedUI) from SPECbuilder Live/Resource Materials/Word Templates. Take note of where the file is saved.
- Click the File tab.
- Choose Options.
- Select Customise Ribbon.
- Choose Import Customisation.
- Select the NATSPECui.exportedUI file and click Open then click OK.
- To see the NATSPEC Toolbar click on the Add-Ins Tab. It is only available when the open document is attached to the natspec.dot file.
- Click View menu.
- Choose Toolbars.
- Choose NATSPEC.
Word 2008 and 2011 - Macintosh:
- Click View menu.
- Choose Toolbars.
- Choose NATSPEC.
Q. Where are the guidance notes in the NATSPEC Template Word files?
A. In order to read the guidance notes, "Hidden text" must be turned on. Simply use the "On/Off" button in the NATSPEC toolbar, the Paragraph Marker button on the Home Ribbon (¶) or do it manually as follows:
- For Word 03, go to the Tools menu, choose Options (last item), click on the View tab and tick Hidden text (under the Formatting marks heading).
- For Word 07, click on the Officebutton, choose Wordoptions (last item), click on Display and tick Hiddentext.
- For Word 2008 & 2011 (Macintosh), go to the Word menu, choose Preferences, click on the View button and tick Hidden text (under Nonprinting characters heading)
- For Word 10, go to File menu, choose Options (last item), click on Display and tick Hidden text.
- For Word 2013 and 2016, go to File menu, choose Options, click on Display and tick Hidden text.
Q. My Table of Contents has an error message or it is not updated. How can I fix this?
A. Once the document has been merged into a single file it is possible to create or update the Table of Contents (TOC).
For Windows versions, simply right click over the table and choose Updatefield. This will update the TOC to reflect your contents.
For Macintosh versions press Ctrl and click to the left of the Table of contents and choose Update field. This will update the TOC to reflect your contents.
Q. I haven't used the NATSPEC Specification Cover sheet. How do I insert a Table of Contents?
A. Simply place your cursor where you wish the Table of Contents to appear and do the following:
Word 2013: Select the References tab and click the Table of Contents button. Select Custom Table of Contents, choose how many heading levels you wish to show in the table and click OK.
Word 2008 and 2011 (Macintosh): Select the Insert menu, choose Index and Tables, choose Table of Contents tab, choose how many heading levels you wish to show in the Table of contents and click OK.
Word 2010: Select the References tab and click the Table of Contents button. Select Insert Table of Contents, choose how many heading levels you wish to show in the Table of contents and click OK.
Word 2007: Select the References tab and click the Table of Contents button. Select Insert Table of Contents, choose how many heading levels you wish to show in the Table of contents and click OK.
Word 2003: Select the Insert menu, choose Reference, choose Index and Tables, choose Table of Contents tab, choose how many heading levels you wish to show in the Table of contents and click OK.
Q. I don't understand Master Documents - is there an easier way?
A. Yes. Microsoft Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 have a feature called Insert/Object/Text from file that will very quickly join a number of Word documents together. The following method will insert the contents of all the selected files into a single document (it’s like you have “cut and pasted” each individual file).
- Open a blank document or open a document based on the NATSPEC template file (NATSPEC.DOTX).
- Click the Insert tab and click on the Object button arrow.
- Select Text from File.
- Navigate to the folder that contains the files you wish to merge.
- Select All (Ctrl A) [Remember to deselect the files that you do not wish to add the merged document].
- Click the Insert button.
- Insert a Page Break between each worksection.
- Save the file.
This method works on Word for Macintosh, except worksections will need to be added individually. This document is not connected in any way to the subdocuments - it is a standalone document.
Q. How do I delete all the guidance text from my document?
A. Simply use the 'Delete Hidden Text' button on the NATSPEC Toolbar or do it manually as follows:
Q. When converting Optional text to worksection text, how do you remove the grey background when the hidden text is converted?
A. Select the text and apply the appropriate style e.g. normal, normal indent, Heading 4, etc. this will reformat the text to the selected style and remove the shading.