Finding Building Product Info

Gone are the days when the only way to obtain detailed information on building products was to call up the local rep and wait days or weeks for the information to arrive. Today, the best way to get a manufacturer's product information is usually from its web site. Obviously, the quality of individual manufacturer web sites is highly variable, but that too is a qualifier -- if they don't provide the information that specifiers need, free of charge, do you want to specify them?

Finding web sites of other manufacturers whose names you already know is as easy as "googling" them. On the other hand, finding other manufacturers whose names you don't know is more difficult. Internet search engines (even Google) are not much help because they only do keyword searches, which as often as not return sites whose manufacturers claim NOT to be what you are looking for.

Internet portal sites

Internet portal sites that index manufacturers by MasterFormat™ are much more useful. The sites listed below have a significant number of building product manufacturers indexed, with links to their web sites. In some cases, additional information is available at the portal site; in other cases, the only information is the link to the manufacturer's own site.

www.4specs.com

The only internet portal site that we can truly recommend is www.4specs.com. 4specs.com indexes the web sites of building product manufacturers and construction industry organizations only. It does not list suppliers in manufacturer lists. The site does sell ads but doesn't host specs or CAD files or anything else for advertisers. Its indexing is much more discriminating than any other, resulting in fewer inapplicable entries, reducing the time required to find the information truly needed. Sometimes it shows icons for specs, CAD, or "green", indicating that manufacturer has those things on its web site.

Other Portal Sites

ARCAT Inc., www.arcat.com

  • Hosts proprietary specs for some manufacturers, in a standard format that is easy to import into SpecLink.
  • Less discriminating indexing.
  • Includes companies without web sites.

Smart Building Index, Reed Construction Data, http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/companies/

  • Hosts proprietary specs for some manufacturers, in a standard format that is easy to import into SpecLink.
  • Less discriminating indexing

Sweets Network, McGraw-Hill, www.sweets.com

  • Slowest site by far.
  • Requires registration and login to simply look at the specs.
  • Many so-called 3-part specs are not and many are simply html files, not easily importable.