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Craig Haney (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, February 20, 2023 - 04:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

At SimpleSpecs we have been working on a new classification system for our specifications for some time now. Many construction specifications are classified according to CSI/CSC Masterformat, a system that uses a combination of construction material groupings, trade jurisdictions, and other factors to classify information. The problem with this approach is that it does not relate to how a building is constructed. For example, concrete has different requirements, and different costs, depending on where it is placed in a structure; as a footing, in a wall at grade, or as a slab 50 stories in the air. Masterformat simply places concrete under Division 03 - Concrete no matter what the parameters for its placement are.

What resulted was a confusing classification system that is difficult for many people to comprehend, particularly those who do not prepare specifications as a full-time effort. For example, if Division 06 is Wood, Plastics and Composites, why is wood siding in Division 07, wood doors in Division 08, wood flooring in Division 09, and wood casework in Division 12?

Masterformat was originally published as a format for building construction and related sitework. In 2004 CSI/CSC updated the document in an attempt to cover all of the built environment. They added categories for marine work, process engineering (think wafer fabrication lines), and heavy civil projects (roads, bridges, etc.) and left expansion space for much more (moon stations were mentioned!) The problem is that very, very few of these industries actually adopted Masterformat, so we now have a clunky, overstuffed classification system that a huge percentage of the industry does not use and that does not even work well.

Back in the 1990's a classification system based on cost estimating principles was developed by both CSI/CSC and ASTM. This document was originally titled Uniformat, but since CSI/CSC and ASTM soon realized that there were major disagreements between their committees, they published separate documents; Uniformat (CSI/CSC) and Uniformat II (ASTM). This format covers only buildings and related sitework and classifies subjects according to construction “elements” like foundations and exterior enclosures. The result is a system that, with a few modifications, works well for specifications but also for classifying product data, for cost estimating, and for BIM. Think about having one uniform location for a product’s data sheets, specifications, cost data, and BIM objects.

We are proposing using the Uniformat II Classification system with a location added that provides a place for common work elements like joint sealers and other materials that would otherwise occur in multiple locations. See the attached document. This is also very similar to the structure that 4Specs is currently using.

Our question for those of you reading this article is, how would you feel about using a specification system that abandons Masterformat in favor of a classification system that works so much better and is so easy to understand?

application/pdfSimpleSpecs Proposed Subject Classifications
Level 1 Titles.pdf (45.5 k)
Colin Gilboy
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 13
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Monday, February 20, 2023 - 05:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

You can see how this second classification system would work for products in 4specs:

Colin Gilboy
Publisher, 4specs.com

David Stutzman
Senior Member
Username: david_stutzman

Post Number: 90
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Monday, February 20, 2023 - 06:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Hi Craig, Conspectus has already created the system to produce Uniformat based specifications and has been doing so for years, including producing construction documents using Uniformat based specs only. You can see what we have done at https://www.conspectusinc.com/conspectus-cloud
Jeffrey Wilson CSI CCS SCIP
Senior Member
Username: wilsonconsulting

Post Number: 350
Registered: 03-2006

Posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2023 - 05:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Uniformat does seem like a logical classification system for specs. Acceptance would be the big question: For many independent specifiers, our clients are accustomed to MasterFormat and so are their clients typically. For architectural firms, it would be a matter of convincing their clients that a format change has value.

There is also the question of available master documents. Nearly all commercially available systems are based on MasterFormat -- a transition would take considerable time and effort to implement.

It would be good to hear from those who have actually used Uniformat -- like Dave Stutzman -- to get an indication about acceptance by their clients.
Jeffrey Wilson CCS CSI SCIP
Wilson Consulting Inc
Narberth PA
David Stutzman
Senior Member
Username: david_stutzman

Post Number: 91
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2023 - 05:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Jeff, most architects are already producing BOD or design narrative documents. Uniformat simply brings standard structure to what they already do. We are seeing the best acceptance from owners and contractors, especially design-builders. Some architects are accepting. Consulting engineers are the least accepting. So we try to carry the engineers along by doing some of the work for them.

I chose not to write a master Uniformat document. I do not want it to be the same process of edit by deletion used with MasterFormat master specs. Instead we start with a blank slate and write what we know when we know it - just like creating the design. It is totally an additive process. I want our specifiers to build the project in their head and then write what they built. Just like the designs, it is custom for every project. This has been an effective approach for us for projects of every scale.
David G. Axt, CDT, CCS, CSI, SCIP
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 1997
Registered: 03-2002

Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 - 11:09 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

This is an interesting discussion. I to am puzzled by MasterFormat quirks. It seems that on almost every project I get asked by a designer why ________ is located in Division ________.

I know that MasterFormat loosely follows the sequence of construction. MasterFormat also loosely organizes by trade (for example most of the flooring sections are close together). MasterFormat loosely has assemblies instead of individual materials (for example roofing sections have membrane, insulation, coverboard, fasteners, etc.)

I know MasterFormat is not perfect, but it is what we got. That said, I am curious to see if others can build a better mouse trap.
David G. Axt, CDT, CCS, CSI, SCIP
Specifications Consultant
Axt Consulting LLC
Senior Member
Username: wbevier

Post Number: 70
Registered: 07-2004

Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2023 - 02:54 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


MasterSpec is part of OmniClass and is described in Table 22 as "Work Results"(link above includes a matrix of tables that are included in OmniClass)
George Wade Bevier, FCSI, CCS, LEED AP BD+C
Arlington VA 22201
Ronald L. Geren, FCSI Lifetime Member, AIA, CCS, CCCA, CSC, SCIP
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 1620
Registered: 03-2003

Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2023 - 02:58 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Wade, I think you meant to say that "MasterFormat" is a part of OmniClass, and not "MasterSpec."
Ron Geren, FCSI Lifetime Member, AIA, CCS, CCCA, CSC, SCIP
Senior Member
Username: wbevier

Post Number: 71
Registered: 07-2004

Posted on Friday, February 24, 2023 - 08:28 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Ron - You are correct.
George Wade Bevier, FCSI, CCS, LEED AP BD+C
Arlington VA 22201
J Peter Jordan (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, February 24, 2023 - 10:42 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I clicked on the link posted above, but did not see an "article"; just a list of proposed categories.

I am not sure why this wheel needs to be reinvented. Despite Mr. Haney's assertion that "s difficult for many people to comprehend, particularly those who do not prepare specifications as a full-time effort.", it is widely accepted and used throughout the construction industries. Many firms have attempted to use it for key noting to more closely coordinate Specifications and Drawings.

CSI has always supported the mantra "say it once and say it in the right place." Joint sealers are specified at the end of Division 07, and the need for this stuff is noted in numerous cross references. Shop finishes for various wood and metal products are typically specified with the items being fabricated because that is who does the finishing.

I had to chuckle at the observation "if Division 06 is Wood, Plastics and Composites, why is wood siding in Division 07, wood doors in Division 08, wood flooring in Division 09, and wood casework in Division 12?: That was my thought when I was asked to convert the product library organization from the old AIA filing system to the "new" CSI system at a summer job in 1968. The answer is that MasterFormat is a classification for work results, not products.
Jeffrey Potter
Senior Member
Username: jpotter

Post Number: 44
Registered: 02-2017
Posted on Friday, February 24, 2023 - 03:55 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Specpoint also incorporates the assembly approach and the additive approach. By integrating the AIA MasterSpec Library into Specpoint, we have organized the sections under the appropriate assemblies, with filters and search capabilities to help find everything.

Drawings are assembly based, so why shouldn't specs be organized and thought of in assemblies as well? We have also provided the ability to switch between UniFormat (assemblies) and MasterFormat (Divisions) if someone is not quite comfortable working within assemblies.

With the additive approach, we are able to provide high levels of content automation, with more automation coming soon, along with future smart report functions, next generation BIM Integration and much more!
Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 747
Registered: 12-2002

Posted on Friday, February 24, 2023 - 04:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I expect we are seeing the emergence of a sea change in specification writing that may take place over the next 5 to 10 years. In our practice, we work with over a dozen architectural firms. None of them have requested that we change from work result-oriented to assembly-oriented documents. We have held conversations with the technical leaders of our most active firms; several are aware of this potential development, but none are intending to make a transition soon.

Our focus is to provide our clients with the service they are requesting rather than push them into a new means of specification practice. We will wait to make this transition until our clients take us there.
SpecGuy Specifications Consultants
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 1556
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Friday, February 24, 2023 - 06:43 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

We're finally seeing small steps being taken towards assembly based "holistic" thinking.

As to new? I've been up to my eyeballs in UniFormat since the mid-90's and there were many people already there when I got there. I've written full GMP specs using UniFormat.

I really like what Dave Stutzman is doing with his Conspectus Cloud program and hope that he will be able to help the industry move forward into UniFormat based specifying. Anyone who hasn't tried it out might want to take a look. Except you Phil ;-D Just kidding.

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