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Drawings or Specifictions? Which has precedence? Share your stories.

WhatsOnTheARE

We wanted to hear or read rather about any interesting stories the architectural community may have with regard to the age old debate over drawing and specification conflicts.

For instance, have you had a contractor, ignore the conflicts between dwgs. and specs and construct from one or the other based on available information?

Or has every contractor you ever dealt with called your office when they were confused?

 

Our only experience has been with the contractor assuming they knew what we wanted and then persuading us that they did what was best once we arrived on-site for observation. Though it worked out that one time, it could have been considerably worse had we disapproved.

 
Mar 7, 12 4:44 pm

CM situations can be interesting - those where the CM (not a constructor, not at risk) assigns bid packages' responsibilities by spec section: If it ain't covered by spec, it doesn't matter if it's drawn. You don't get it!

Mar 7, 12 7:39 pm  · 
 · 

We always had a note in the General Conditions stating that in the case of conflicts between drawings and specs the specs prevailed.

Mar 7, 12 9:12 pm  · 
 · 
Janosh

As Donna notes, it is typical for the precedence to be addressed in the General Conditions.  I think language along the lines of  "the most stringent requirement governs) is a good practice as it prevents change orders - you can always relieve the contractor of the higher requirement there aren't any real consequences.

Mar 7, 12 10:54 pm  · 
1  · 

Yes, I've frequently seen the "most stringent" requirement too, as Janosh says.

 

This conversation is helpful but boring.  Rusty Shackleford, where are you?! Come regale us with tales of specifications reading thusly: 

Let every eye negotiate for itself

And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch

Against whose charms faith melteth in blood

Mar 8, 12 9:11 am  · 
 · 

Or has every contractor you ever dealt with called your office when they were confused?

Amusing.   My general impression of contractors is that they just do whatever they want.  Not much confusion there.  And certainly no calling the architect's office.

Architect's cost me money, yo!

Mar 8, 12 10:11 am  · 
 · 
curtkram

I've had contractors call for clarifications.  It's something like this:

'hi.  i was thinking this other shade of white would match better.  do you mind if we use that color instead?  by the way, we changed your column spacing last month when we were pouring foundations.  we were able to get rid of few columns that way to bring the building back in budget.  the owner was ok with that.  i figured you wouldn't mind.  it shouldn't make and difference, so i didn't want to bother you.'

Mar 8, 12 10:22 am  · 
1  · 

I just met with a friend who has a company which focuses on writing specs for architects.  He said when lawyers get involved, they go right to the specs.  Reason is this is the format they are used to and understand (written documents).

Mar 8, 12 11:52 am  · 
2  · 

my favorite spec passage ever: the use of salamanders will not be permitted. 

Mar 8, 12 11:59 am  · 
1  · 

A salamander being a portable propane heater, of course!

Mar 8, 12 1:58 pm  · 
1  · 
gwharton

The short answer is: in the case of inconsistencies between the drawings and the specs, the case which is most advantageous to the contractor is the one which will be built and/or litigated.

On a related note, the same rule applies to scaled vs. called-out dimensions (which, perversely, is why it can be a good idea not to put scale indications or markers on drawings).

Mar 8, 12 2:12 pm  · 
 · 

Problem solved, one "scaled salamander" coming up!

Mar 8, 12 2:20 pm  · 
 · 
3tk

Specs, unless GC stipulates otherwise - though I'm not sure how happy the lawyers would get if you had drawings overrule specs.

Mar 8, 12 2:34 pm  · 
 · 

Really, drawings are never meant to be "scaled" for dimensions not expressly provided. (Strictly speaking, a a request for Information should be issued by Contractor if necessary to determine a dimension which cannot be derived from numerical information shown.)

Since we're getting all Shakespearean, I think the traditional "Great Chain of Being" for contract documents runs as follows (in ascending order of precedence): Small scale drawings, large scale drawings, notes and specifications.

One idealized objective in the production of CD's is to avoid repetition of information (so that when something is changed, it need be changed in one location only), and to build information into the set following a logical progression of graphic symbology through detailed written annotation. Again, ideally, the system of notes should account for the tendency for errors of omission of information in drawing production. Whatever the system, the rules should be established clearly in General Conditions documents.

Example best practice: Don't use the term "new" or "(N)", but only call out "existing" or "(E)" items. The stated rule for use of the drawing set would be that all construction is new unless noted otherwise...(That way, an Owner would never be charged by the Contractor for the accidental omission of an "N" on the part of the Architect.)

In practice, the larger, more professional builders (of larger scale projects) understand and follow these kinds of requirements, whereas smaller builders do not. In the general population of residential contractors, I would have very low expectation of conformance to such standards, because decisions are usually made by a site-superintendent who probably came up through one of the trades, and is unaware of the fine points of contract administration....

 

 

Mar 8, 12 2:49 pm  · 
 · 
Electric

Hi, new member here.

We just came across a situation where an electrical engineer rejected a transformer we submitted.  They said it had to be copper windings / coils and we had submitted aluminum.  We went to our vendor and they said there was no mention of copper in the SPECS.  And they were correct.  However, the engineer came back and pointed out a general DRAWING NOTE that wasn't even on the same sheet as the Power Riser, Panelboards or Transformer Schedule.  The note said transformers must have copper windings, aluminum not allowed.  And they are sticking to it and not authorizing the cost increase.  Lame.  I bet they will fix that issue on their spec pages.

Dec 13, 18 12:51 pm  · 
 · 

Were you given the information or not? Two different scenarios here.

1  ·  1
Electric

I am going to say we had the information at bid time, yes. It was all on the drawings. And that is where the engineer is correct. It's just a note that we (me / I) didn't notice or give any thought to because our vendor would be reading the specs, etc. So there lies the question and subject of this thread.... SPECS or DRAWINGS? If it was in the specs, our vendor or the manufacturers rep would have seen it OR eaten the up-charge.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

General notes apply to everyone hence, you should have read them. Were they not provided to you in the bid docs? Why did you assume AL was ok when it was not listed as an acceptable in the specs? This is why we have an RFI process. You'll likely be eating the cost of this one.

 ·  1
Non Sequitur

Electric, the answer is both drawings and specs are important and should be read together. Ignoring one or the other is not a good defense. I see this all the time with our M&E trades and never has a p.eng gone back and issued a CCN because the bidder did not read the drawings.

 · 
Non Sequitur

Ricky, I seriously doubt they actually want AL. This is a classic case of contractor under bid the job and is trying to weasle in some extra fees.

 ·  1

This is a classic case of Rick not knowing enough to intelligently comment but running his keyboard anyway. Rick is commenting on aluminum vs. copper wiring. Electric is talking about aluminum vs. copper windings in transformers. There's a difference.

1  · 
Electric

To All,

 ·  1
Non Sequitur

to all what? don't leave us hanging!

1  · 
Electric

oh no, right after I accidently entered "To All," I EDITED my post and wrote a paragraph. I guess I didn't save it and i exited. I can re-create it later.... Or it posted elsewhere but I doubt it.

 · 
Non Sequitur

there is a max time limit when editing comments... and hitting enter messes things up.

 · 
Electric

Non Sequitur says "there is a max time limit when editing comments... and hitting enter messes things up." Oh man, thanks for that info. That's probably what happened. I'll try to remember that in the future. This time I am typing in a word doc and I'll just copy/paste it to the forum, hopefully ;). SO, some of what I was saying the other day was in reference to the ALUMINUM wire comments. Keep in mind, I don't pretend to know everything or even a lot. But I have been in the electrical industry since 1983. Aluminum wire is used ALL OF THE TIME in residential and commercial work. Probably more so these days with the super high cost of copper. In reference to RickB-

1  · 
Electric

In reference to RickB-Astoria comments, The problem with aluminum wire that was used (mostly) in residential work in the 70s was that it was small conductors, #14, #12, #10 for 15, 20 and 30 amp circuits. Not good, not at all but it took a little while for that to be figured out. But larger conductors are just fine and it's used ALL OF THE TIME in homes for furnaces, ranges, service conductors, subpanel feeders, etc. And in commercial work it's all over the place. The project I am working on a bid for right now allows Aluminum for #3 and larger so that's like 75 Amps and larger. I just realize that half or more of what I am saying is crazy to even point out because the products are available for a reason. They are perfectly legal and safe for use. As for THIS comment from Non Sequitur " I seriously doubt they actually want AL. This is a classic case of contractor under bid the job and is trying to weasle (SIC) in some extra fees." Of course I don't think that's cool at all to say. We've been at this for almost 100 years. But what IS COOL is that our vendor went to the manufacturer for a favor and got a reduction on the fee to go to copper windings AND the vendor absorbed the rest of the costs. We were lucky but that also comes from good relationships.

1  · 
Electric

Again, Keep in mind, I don't pretend to know everything or even a lot. But I have been in the electrical industry since 1983. 7 years working with tools during a 4 year apprenticeship. Soon after the boss saw my grades from school, he asked me to join the office and learn estimating and management of projects from inside. So that's like 28 years. I applied to get a Masters soon after finishing school but I was 6 months short on field experience so the State told me to re-apply in the near future. But as I was learning new things in the office, I decided I didn't need a License as I wasn't planning to be a business owner, etc. Dumb Dumb, yes. I could really use it now but that's another story.

1  · 

Specifiction

Perfect.

Dec 13, 18 1:05 pm  · 
1  · 
Electric

Hah, I did not even notice that spelling error and usually those jump out at me. Except with the word Seperate ...see, I did it again, Separate ... there it is. Separate Ways

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SneakyPete

Drawings and Specifications are complementary. Any discrepancies are to be resolved through the RFI process.

Dec 13, 18 1:57 pm  · 
1  · 

You win

 · 
SneakyPete

Funny thing I've noticed, board games run into this issue all the time when they have rules and then specific instructions on game boards or cards. They solve it differently, though, usually specifying one or the other overrules.

 · 

I'm shocked that no one pointed out the correct answer years ago which is that there shouldn't be a debate as neither specs nor drawings are intended to take precedence one over the other. The contract documents are complementary. What is required by one shall be binding as if required by all. If there is a discrepancy in the contract documents, the appropriate action would be to submit a RFI asking for clarification or interpretation.

As for Electric's issue regarding the transformer ... as both the drawings and the specs are contract documents, you should review both completely and not rely on one or the other alone. The engineer should also have better coordinated their documents and put information where it would commonly be located, not in some random note as a CYA ... but that doesn't absolve you of the responsibility for understanding what is in the complete set of contract documents. If you had, you'd have noticed the requirement and priced your work accordingly.

Dec 13, 18 2:03 pm  · 
2  · 

Glad to see the responses that came in above while I was writing my comment. It is still a shame that it took 5 years and a resurrected thread to get this clarified.

2  · 
Non Sequitur

I have to deal with this situation on.every.single.project. People just don't read and when I need something critical that otherwise typically falls in my p.eng's generic spec... our office will issue our own spec section with the architectural goodies highlighted. It's missed 100% of the time... even when we draw special attention to it.  Hey guys & galls, don't forget that we included finishing details in X & Y... 

 Recent(ish) example: Oh, mr. plumber, you did not know that the fire-rated gypsum board access hatches were specified as such and instead thought you'd place your shitty painted metal doors all over my nice atrium? Sorry, we specified the nice ones and they run 20x the cost of your flimsy metal ones. Have fun.

 ·  1
SneakyPete

The issue I've had to deal with is when the architect or engineer places something of high cost in an obscure place which gets missed during the GMP process. While we can try to force the issue later and cite the above contractual reality, the contractor turns to the owner and tells them the "extra" cost. They then point out it was "buried" and the owner, wanting to avoid the cost increase, gives the contractor what they want. Bottom line: know what things cost (roughly) and don't put high value items in places where a normal contractor won't think to look.

1  · 

I'm going to amend your "bottom line" to simplify it for the designers that don't want to bother with cost ... "Don't put items in places where a normal contractor won't think to look.

Spec information belongs in the specs. Drawing information belongs in the drawings. Means and methods belong to the contractor.

1  · 
thatsthat

Thank you for this Everyday. I literally have your bolded words on a post-it permanently taped to my monitor.  It has saved me in so many situations.  Although, it is my understanding that this only applies to AIA contracts...

Even though we arduously attempt to keep clean specs and drawing, I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't seem to matter where you put the information because the contractor will never look at your documents anyway.

 · 

Not necessarily. I think EJCDC documents will be similar to AIA with regard to this, but I can't say for certain. Consensus Docs does stipulate in their default contracts that specs take precedence over drawings where there are discrepancies between the two, but they still include language stating that contract documents are complementary and that the constructor shall perform the work even if it is shown in one and not the other. Basically establishing that omission of something in one is not a discrepancy. Even with AIA documents, if the lawyers start putting things in trying to establish an order of precedence they may make things more complicated. AIA has published information stating that if an order of precedence must be included, that drawings and specs should have the same priority ... i.e. one is not more important than the other. Finally, if the owner writes their own General Conditions, all bets are off. Although I've seen similar language to the AIA's in most owner's custom General Conditions, if not, we are usually good about getting it added.

 · 
SneakyPete

Rick, that's a nice idea, but rarely works in practice. The ridiculous version of that is a leader with a keynote that simply writes the spec #, no text. The contractor, upon seeing the drawings, jacks their fee because they now need to look literally everything up in a book as they're doing a general pricing exercise. Sure, they should do it, but that won't end up with anyone making a profit.

 · 
thatsthat

We’ve started doing keynotes and notes together on the same drawing “081000 - New door.” And it’s great for some contractors. Others have asked me why every note has a 6 digit number in front after realizing it wasn’t a reference to a detail.

 · 
SneakyPete

*headdesk*

 · 
archi_dude

The issue here is that it’s not always a situation of “what a dumb contractor they never read the drawings.” Most architects never read their own general notes and specs. So what happens is they issue a hodge podge of copy / paste nonsense. Contractors are trying to put together an all inclusive price from a set of drawings they’ve never seen before. I dare you to walk over to a coworkers set, sit down and say you know every note and spec of their project in 2-3 days. If you want contractors to do certain things, you need to make clear documents.

1  · 
archi_dude

And add into that general notes start talking about trash requirements from some random jurisdiction or intumescent paint on a job with no steel, SKIP next section.

1  · 

^ Exactly. Reams of boilerplate and CYA, with an occasional land mine. Some architects do this intentionally to use later as a way to cover up their own incompetence. No wonder contractors think poorly of architects.

Our job is to make it easy to get things built, not as difficult as humanly possible. My practice is to put everything on the drawings and make them as clear as possible. This is another area where actual construction experience is critical. 

1  · 
archi_dude

Rick, if the documents are more clear your bid spread on a hard bid job is smaller and more accurate. This saving the client $$$$’s. On GMP which usually has more of a design build collaboration the architect needs to make the build side run smoothly if they want repeat work.

 · 
curtkram

also, you need to include in your spec that the contractor will provide jelly donuts at OAC meetings.

Dec 13, 18 10:51 pm  · 
 · 

Ah yes, the specification for perforated pastry units.

 · 

Or gelatinous filled pastry units

 · 
curtkram

Have you ever answered an rfi with "the design intent was to have a working mechanical system?"  I mean, come on contractor.  Some shit you just need to figure out.

Dec 14, 18 9:39 am  · 
 · 
BulgarBlogger

I used to think that putting spec sections instead of spec descriptions on wall sections was confusing, but I now totally get why its a good way to mate the two... 

Dec 16, 18 6:52 pm  · 
1  · 
BulgarBlogger

Drawings and Specifications are complimentary so if there is a conflict, the contractor ought to call you up for clarification. 

Dec 16, 18 6:54 pm  · 
 · 
BulgarBlogger

Can someone point me to the clause in AIA documents that states that specifications govern? I thought drawings and specs are complimentary.

Jan 30, 19 3:29 pm  · 
 · 
SneakyPete

You'll probably want to be looking in Division 1 of the specs, not in the AIA docs.

 · 
poop876

I don't think it states that in 201. I think it says that they are the same, unless somebody states otherwise.

 · 
BulgarBlogger

but is it standard practice that specs govern? 

Jan 30, 19 5:24 pm  · 
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tduds

It's "Standard Practice" that the specs don't contradict the drawings.

In real life, however, this is why RFIs exist.

Jan 30, 19 6:00 pm  · 
 · 
BulgarBlogger

I understand, but someone from my office is insisting that specs govern.

 · 
SneakyPete

The onus is on them to prove it. If it's not in your documents it's not true.

 · 
linverfritz

In order to deal with Defective or Incomplete or Inadvertent Errors in Plans & Specifications, owners and their architects have put in provisions in the contract usually in the General Conditions of the contract under the heading of “Order of Precedence of Documents”, which is listed as shown below (similar language in other contracts):
- Contract between Owner and GC
- Special Provisions
- General Provisions
- Specifications
- Details on Drawings
- Plan Drawings
This means that if the contractor has a CONFLICT between the Plan Drawings and Details on Drawings, then the Details on Drawings prevail. If there is a conflict between the Drawings and Details on Drawings and the Specifications, then the Specifications will prevail. The higher “Order of Precedence of Documents” governs or prevails. It is sort of like a poker hand where 3 of a kind beats 2 pairs, etc.

Oct 30, 20 10:14 am  · 
1  · 

I have never heard of this. It sounds like a great way to make things overly complicated and create issues.  

 In America standard AIA contracts state that all the drawings and project manual are complementary with no individual drawing or part of the project manual having precedent over the others. If there is a conflict between any drawing or project manual then the contractor is ask the architect for clarification.

1  · 
Electric

Keep one thing in mind. General Lee, a subcontractor has a very short time to put together a bid. The design team has ' a lot' of time. Ok, 2 things.  A subcontractor DOES NOT GET PAID to put together a bid. The design team DOES GET PAID to design.  ;). Try running a business where you're successful with 30% of the projects you look at / bid.  Headed in to our 98th year! 

Oct 30, 20 12:18 pm  · 
1  ·  1
Non Sequitur

So, you decide to pop back in almost 2 years later to dish out thumbs down? So how much of a bath did you have to take on your copper/AL fuck up?

1  · 
tduds

"The design team has ' a lot' of time." lol 

"Try running a business where you're successful with 30% of the projects you look at" LOL 30% would be nice.

2  · 
Electric

oh, I just noticed that you asked about the copper / aluminum mix up cost. I commented on it long ago but I can understand how the message got missed. Basically, it all worked out fine and there were no losses to speak of.

1  · 
Electric

Non Seq .... here's what I had said a while back about the ALum / Copper issue " But what IS COOL is that our vendor went to the manufacturer for a favor and got a reduction on the fee to go to copper windings AND the vendor absorbed the rest of the costs. We were lucky but that also comes from good relationships."

 · 

Why does this persist in the industry!? I keep needing to beat this dead horse every time CA starts on a project, or every time some recent grad starts studying for the ARE, and it's exhausting. 

Answering for the record a few things here ...

  1. AIA A201-2017 "General Conditions of the Contract for Construction;" 1.2 "Correlation and Intent of the Contract Documents," is where you'll find the language stating that the Contract Documents are complementary. You'll also see that there is no order of precedence.
  2. AIA A503-2017/2019 "Guide for Supplementary Conditions ...," has a corresponding portion to address Section 1.2 of the General Conditions and explains in plain text the reason why you shouldn't want an order of precedence ("no one document constitutes the best authority on all issues that may arise"). That being said, they do acknowledge that some clients may insist on it. If that is the case, they have some model language to establish an order of precedence and it does not establish a precedent between Drawings and Divs 02-49 of the Specifications
  3. Since I know that no one actually goes to look things up anymore, I'm including the model language below ... READ IT. If you find yourself looking at an order of precedence in a client's General Conditions that is all messed up like the one above, try to make it look more like the one below for your own sanity. If your clients don't have an order of precedence already in their contracts, or they aren't asking for one, don't offer it.
  4. I have seen language trying to establish that within drawings, the more detailed drawings take precedent over the less detailed drawings. It's perhaps good in theory, but in practice it's a mess. Try to get rid of this type of thing whenever you see it. Although, it should be said that if you're drawing things correctly, you shouldn't have this type of discrepancy to deal with. For example, if you dimension something in plan, you shouldn't also have it dimensioned in a detail. Say things once, and in the right place.
Oct 30, 20 12:28 pm  · 
2  · 
SneakyPete

<3 

1  · 
Non Sequitur

all dead horses are worth beatin'

1  · 

Feel free to forward this on to all your professor friends, past professors (retired or not), and potential future professors. I get the feeling this gets taught in school incorrectly and that's why it persists. Chances are those professors just don't know the correct information.

 · 

I think it persists because it wasn't always the case. Before that statement was included in the AIA contracts, it was something specifically stated in the front end of a Project Manual - and it, therefore, had the potential to change from job to job. If the spec writer *decided* the spec took priority, they said so.

Could be wrong but, years ago, when I first started writing specs, I remember it was important to include a statement about this. 

 · 
thatsthat

We have a client that insists on listing a very specific order of precedent in their Div 01 and it is a nightmare during CA. My colleague and I have both been encouraging CDT certification in our firm to try to fill in the gaps. It is disturbing how many people do not understand the basic tenets of contracts that rule their working lives.

2  · 

You might be right Steven, but even then ... it's been awhile. You've got more experience than I do in the industry, but I found a commentary for the 1997 version of AIA A201 and it notes in there that there is no intent to establish an order of precedence in the General Conditions. For context, I wasn't even in high school yet when it was issued. 

http://www.umich.edu/~cee431/A...

I know plenty of older spec writers though, and they all think they have the correct solution to everything so I could see where they would feel it is important to address this in the specifications as they see fit.

1  · 
apscoradiales

This post is as old as the hills!

Archinect? Anybody there? Hello?!

Oct 30, 20 2:16 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

It was dug-up today by electric... who originally dug it up 2 years ago. Dude is a just a typical slime-ball contractor looking to weasel out of contract docs. I'm sure you've seen a few like him.

1  ·  1
apscoradiales

Yep!

2  · 
tduds

What's funny is that his original issue wasn't even a conflict between the spec & the drawings. The correct info was on the drawings, and nothing in the spec gave incorrect info. Just an omission that they tried to take advantage of to save a few (heh.. copper) pennies

2  · 
Electric

I didn't dig it up. I got an email earlier today that there were new comments so I took a look. It's not always easy to follow the format here so i don't know off hand who dug it up. But yes, as I went through part of the old and new posts I did some thumbs downs and some thumbs up. And then I did make a comment about General Lee. Is that not allowed here? Maybe Neal and Bob comments are viewed more appropriate. Program may need to be modified to get rid of that option.

 · 
Electric

it was dug up by linverfritz as far as I can tell.

 · 
Non Sequitur

I just got a string of notifications that your went crazy on the thumbs. None of the down variety were merited tho since I was correct in my all my comments... but you can disable notifications, or click the unfollow link at the top of thread, if you want.

1  · 
Electric

Non Seq, you actually were wrong about the Alum Copper thing that I thumbs down. There's absolutely nothing wrong with aluminum and we have plenty of customers that welcome the savings. Some engineers have even come to their senses and allow it from the beginning

 · 
Non Sequitur

Electric, it is permitted (at least in my area), but that still does not make it an automatic Yes when used as a substitution. At the end of the day, the p.eng needs to stand behind their stamp and if they don't want AL, they won't approve it.

 · 
Electric

No one here except the contractors.  The 'higher education' members have all retired.  Lucky for them they chose a better way to spend their working year$$$

Oct 30, 20 2:56 pm  · 
1  · 

My bad... It just dawned on me recently that this forum is for Arch & Engineers to discuss things.  I just assumed it was for others that are closely related, like Contractors, Subs, suppliers, manufacturers reps, etc.  I realize now the members are not welcoming to the others. Sad

Nov 2, 20 9:46 am  · 
 ·  1
Non Sequitur

We're very welcoming, actually. It's just we dont take too kindly to random wankers wanting free advice, shameless product reps or ignorant contractors.

2  · 
Electric

My Opium is that you are actually very rude. Shirley you are never wrong. I, on the other hand, can admit when I am wrong. I thought I had a reasonable subject to discuss when I came here with the situation I had encountered. I am wrong. Only the high and mighty have a valid opinion here. Deplorables are frowned upon. A very wise young man once wrote, "I'd rather trust a man who works with his hands,
He looks at you once, you know he understands,
Don't need any shield,
When you're out in the field."

 · 
SneakyPete

Care to share some of that opium?

2  · 
Electric

plentiful here in the big city

 · 
Wood Guy

Electric, this site is for architects and designers. There are several design/build contractors as well. There are plenty of contractor-specific forums out there; this is one of very few for those on the design end.


 · 

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