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Introducing Build-A-Spec!

The 3-D Actualization of a Polished Concrete Vision

Computer-age innovation meets the world’s oldest building material—concrete—at Build-A-Spec, the online home of polished concrete visualization.
Recently launched by IPCI and located in the members-only resource section of, Build-A-Spec urges the virtual into reality by allowing architects and polishers to generate a 3-D unique floor installation model and turn it into customized, printable specifications.
Build-A-Spec takes the guesswork out of polished concrete planning by allowing users to personalize a virtual representation of a 20 x 20 slab of concrete with point-and-click ease. From the on-screen image the program tailors a specification template, allowing the user to quickly and conveniently output specs.  “Build-a-Spec is one of a kind,” says Heather Gardener, IPCI Member Services Coordinator, “I am not aware of any other program out there that has both the capability to envision polished concrete in a 3-D realm and to make that vision a reality.”
The online Build-A-Spec module works by offering logged-on IPCI members a series of flooring application choices; with each selection instantly changing the look of the virtual demonstration slab. “Build-A-Spec was designed to display the vast array of flooring options available… we wanted to reinforce imaging for the experienced professional while allowing those unfamiliar with polished concrete to visualize the end result.” explains Leandro Barrientos, IT Manager for IPCI and Concrete Polishing Technologies.
When using the program, the first choice is between a topical or mechanical polish. From there, users can choose the type of concrete: cream finish, small aggregate or large aggregate. At each stage the look of the image changes, and the user can go back to alter any selection at any time. The sheen level decision comes next: with alternatives ranging from Matte to Low Sheen, High Sheen, or Glossy Shine. A variety of decorative features including elective saw cuts, logo stenciling, natural finish, and a palette of twenty-four color options round out the finished projection.
Though polished concrete samples and demo slabs may still prove to be the most impressive way to see the transformation polished concrete can offer to a floor, but Build-A-Spec allows a potential user to get an idea without all of the expense. Polished Concrete samples are very useful but often too small or too heavy to adequately demonstrate the beauty and benefits polished concrete offers. Having a 3D replica will help to alleviate some of the concerns of clients who prefer to visualize the product before they sign on the dotted line. The 3-D model will also allow better communication between project managers, architects, and clients so that all can envision what the ideal slab will look like. 
“The program is very beneficial; it helps all parties to communicate results before the process even starts”, remarks Gardener.   
Once the model is successfully created, the prompt to view, download, modify and print specifications is offered. IPCI Specifications outline the scope of work that needs to be performed for each choice selection, from the aggregate exposure choices to the polishing steps required for each determined sheen level. “In the past, specifications had to be carefully edited to ensure that all sections were customized to the exact stipulations of the client. The time-saving Build-A-Spec does the spec writers work for them, resulting in a output of a precise specification to hand over to the General Contractor, who can, in turn, bid the work out to polishers”, comments Barrientos.
Build-A-Spec heightens awareness of the numerous polished concrete options available today while eliminating the need to carry around a bulky scanner. The unique 3-D Build-A-Spec technology helps people to evaluate the aesthetic value of polished concrete and judge if it is the right look for their facility. The program further enables architects and contractors to click and choose their options, see them live on the screen and produce a customized spec. When properly used, this innovative program has the ability to transform the way polished concrete is commonly thought of and aide job progress from start to finish. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the Build-A-Spec program does justice to them all.