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Specifier (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 02:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I opened the first quarter 2013 MasterSpec sections today and discovered that manufacturers and product names have been omitted from Part 2 - Products.

Editor notes say to double click on the link. This takes me to "Spec Agent". What to do when I get there? Apparently I am supposed to call each manufacturer and figure out what product meets my needs.

As a spec writer, I do not have time to research every manufacturer for every product.

The value of a MasterSpec subscription has been the Evaluations which includes research and comparative charts for products so I can make an informed selection.

Thus, I was wondering if Discussion Forum participants had comments regarding this change.
Alan Mays, AIA
Senior Member
Username: amays

Post Number: 127
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 02:29 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Yes, I would like to hear some opinion on this. Has Masterspec been losing it's quality? I would say that if they omit manufacturers and evaluations they have lost their advantage as a good research tool.
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 559
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 02:40 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Actually I've always believed that one reason so many horrible specs are issued is because too many specifiers are not researching their products to find out if they even meet the project-specific requirements.

MasterSpec started out in an industry based on speculative office buildings. They provided a template from which to delete, or edit out, extraneous 'stuff' which was okay for spec editors. The other guys provided a template from which spec writers, real spec writers, could insert pertinant information and leave out the extraneous 'stuff.' The problem our industry has created is that the spec editors don't know what 'stuff' is extraneous so they leave it in. So much for the 4Cs.

Is this a stupid step for MasterSpec? Probably. They will no longer be the Kleenex of the industry. Is it a positive step for our industry? I believe so, especially if people start using BIM as it is meant to be. If we can get specification software to the point where we can extract information from the BIM for inclusion in our specs, then as a team we can embed the right products into the BIM. If we only input the products that are correctly selected for the project-specific applications, our documents will have meaning and our spec writers should be able to generate specs that are, in fact, project specific.

What a concept.
Margaret G. Chewning FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: presbspec

Post Number: 236
Registered: 01-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 03:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

This is the reason I've always preferred SpecText over MasterSpec. As a Specifier, not a spec tech, I've advocated doing the research for the project, not using "the stuff we used the last time" or "the typical stuff" I'm sometimes directed to use when asking my client (the designer) what he wants to use in each instance. Fortunately, the above direction is usually given over the phone so my client does not see the slow boil those phases often generate.
Perhaps there will come a time when young architects and other professionals who should know better will stop referring to MasterFormat as MasterSpec; and will actually know the difference.
Alan Mays, AIA
Senior Member
Username: amays

Post Number: 128
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 04:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

This leans to a custom solution for every project, but it also presents a challenge for the corporate specifier in that the research time increased for creating and maintaining the corporate masters. Many companies do not maintain (yes, Ken, we do know of one) a spec department and only update their masters every once in a while (usually in the "years" time frame). Then the teams put together the specification. Not ideal and wrought with issues, but many firms operate that way. Ones with spec departments may maintain a corporate master and some actually base it on MasterSpec (I know of one). They look at it as a good starting point and then modify it to their corporate needs. By them totally eliminating that part, they have made that part fall upon the firm to allow more time to maintain and research further than they had before. This also holds true with the project. Having a good consistant starting point is crucial in maintaining quality. The problem is that with the custom for every project method means more time spent and in these times, that lower fees do not equate to allowing more time.
Jeffrey Wilson CSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: wilsonconsulting

Post Number: 103
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 04:55 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The change in MasterSpec is primarily one of form, not content. The manufacturers and products are still there, and the accompanying Evaluations documents have not changed.

As I understand the objective, the new function gives users dynamic information that can be maintained up to date (by ARCOM) since it is stored and accessed remotely rather than residing in the specification document.

It is relatively simple to select some or all of the listed products using the Paragraph Builder function, so this change in approach is unlikely to have a substantial effect on the selections made by specifiers.

There may be a question whether this feature is practical for the user. I personally find it cumbersome & time-consuming, and wish ARCOM had made its use optional. As with SpecAgent, many will likely find this approach terribly annoying.
Lynn Javoroski FCSI CCS LEED® AP SCIP Affiliate
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 1667
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 05:02 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

And, if you choose to add a manufacturer not on the list, be very VERY careful. What you add cannot be deleted or changed. So don't make a typo: "Arnstrong" will be forever just that. And yes, we contacted MasterSpec to ask if it could be deleted and they responded "no".

It was bad enough with the hyperlinks that had to either be removed, and/or have the font color changed and the underlining removed. This is, IMHO, even more irritating.
Jeffrey Wilson CSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: wilsonconsulting

Post Number: 104
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 05:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Lynn: I assume you're aware that if an error is made in Paragraph Builder, you can simply uncheck the box to deselect the entry, then create a new entry for selection. The incorrect version will remain, but need not be selected for use in a spec.
Richard L Matteo, AIA, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: rlmat

Post Number: 597
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 05:43 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Sounds like they're making it more complicated, rather than easier.
What ever happened to the "K.I.S.S." principle along with, as Ken mentioned, the 4Cs.
Alan Mays, AIA
Senior Member
Username: amays

Post Number: 129
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 05:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I agree Richard. KISS. In fact that should be a lesson for everyone. I just saw a poll done on Durability+Design about specs:

In general, which choice best describes the quality of architectural specifications today?

Answers Votes
Well-written complements to design drawings 19%
Overlooked pieces that lack the technical information needed 56%
Satisfactory 22%
Other (comment) 4%

We should all learn from these responses. Architects and specifiers. Arcom, too. They need to get specifiers, architects and others into the loop with what they need to provide in product.
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 560
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 06:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

MasterSpec has their MARC (MasterSpec Architectural Advisory Committee) that meets quarterly. Sometimes MasterSpec management listens, sometimes it doesn't. When I visited on occasion, I heard many committee members complain about having MPI shoved down our throats. Too bad. There were complaints about having SpecAgent shoved down our throats. Too bad.

I couldn't use a MasterSpec Section without heavily editing it. I have never used their lists of manufacturers even when I was generating spec masters for a/e firms. Real specs don't work that way.

If you don't like it, vote with your feet. MasterSpec isn't the only game in time. I'm not sure that it's still the best game in town. If it suits you, find someone else that is more responsive. ARCOM will get the message as soon as their subscribers leave, not before. Sort of like what's happening all over the architectural community. Remember when GM was pushing "What's good for GM is good for America?"

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 1357
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 07:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Ken: the Masterspec sections were developed to be "heavily edited" -- their original intent was to be a deletion type spec, rather than Spec Text of the day, which was a fill-in-the-blank type spec. I've heard people complain that each type is "too hard", but someone always complains about everything. And yes, real firms do work that way. I've used Masterspec as the basis of firm masters for three firms now, but revised to reflect the firm practice.
The spec world is migrating from Word-processing documents to data base documents and Masterspec is slowly picking their way into their market. The dynamic updating is certainly part of it, but that will allow users to eventually screen products based on multiple critiera. If you've looked at the latest versions of LEED, we're going to have to list products based on a whole variety of things: EPD, HPD, Cradle to Cradle and god only knows what else. There isn't any way to do that except in a non-linear fashion.
as for MPI -- I think its the only way to specify pain -- and was one of the ones of advocated for it. there is a lot of room for disagreement in this business -- and Arcom tries to accommodate as many people as possible. I'm not switching to another system anytime soon...
Alan Mays, AIA
Senior Member
Username: amays

Post Number: 130
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 08:29 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Anne: Freudian slip? "I think its the only way to specify pain"? LOL! I agree with you that any spec system is designed to be heavily edited prior to using it. I also agree that real firms do work that way. I, however, feel that Masterspec is way behind with the database curve. They still base everything with their word-processing documents. As far as databasing specs, the only one I know of is BSD with Speclink. That, too needs a lot of modification to become a corporate master. It, too, has it's pluses and minuses. The competition in the databasing systems is slim. Can anyone really tell me all the players in the database systems available?

BTW, I like MPI, too. It allows me to find the data and the options quickly.

I have been losing the appeal of Arcom with there slow pace of updates and the fact that the specs they provide have turned into large verbose sections. I am finding that this is much of the opinion of the users of the specs. While they are necessary, they have turned into the CYA document and the users know it. I have said that they have turned into the best door stop we can provide the contractor's trailer. To many times we are dealing with nothing but substitutions and part of the issue is what we write as much as what the contractor bids. The poll above shocked me some, the amount is what surprised me. To find that only 19% found them acceptable is an issue, even with an adhoc survey.

Who is to blame? I really think all of us. All the spec systems and ourselves. Sheldon Wolf (and others) have given great presentations concerning this very topic. Spec systems need to reflect what the end user will need. As Anne also put it, there will be others that totally disagree with me...
Holly Robinson (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 07:55 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

MPI is a pain for sure!
spiper (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:05 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I would agree with Margaret that "the stuff we used the last time" is often used as a crutch by designers and it is frustrating to deal with this mentality. However there area also a lot of times in my work where matching an institutional standard dictates that we use the stuff we used the last time.

This can lead to a different issue because there is a tendency (when deadlines are bearing down on you) to simply match the previous spec and not research to make sure the product still exists or to make sure the product number/code has not changed. I am not sure any one program is any better suited than another to help with this requirement. In the end, sometimes there is no substitution for doing your homework.

As for paragraph deletion type vs. paragraph selection specifications: I have used both over the years and I personally prefer the Speclink approach I use currently to the old masterspec I used years ago. Of course everyone is different and I am comparing something I use to today to something I used years ago so it is admittedly a biased observation. just my 2 cents.
djwyatt (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 12:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have no patience for people who think they can subscribe to a guide specification provider and not still have to research, think, and work hard to produce a decent project manual.

How would it make any architect feel if you said, “Hey, we just purchased Time Saver Standards - you’ll never have to waste time detailing anything ever again!”

It is really an insult, most often inadvertent, to think anyone can write good specs as long as they have the latest program to do it with.

With a certain spec-by-numbers system, I have to re-write and re-format everything to make it correct and readable. The few conveniences it offers do not make up for the poor writing. If a client tells me I have to use it, I just charge more and we are both happy. Concise? Yes it is concise, but so is the end product of a Pekingese.

As for MASTERSPEC, the writing is far better, sometimes over-done, but displaying greater research effort. The Evaluations alone are a knowledge resource that is worth the subscription price. As such it is like a good encyclopedia. You still have to be the author, but you have a lot more good information to work with. Although not by any means perfect, it reveals its creators’ greater understanding of what specifying is and what it requires.
Mark Gilligan SE,
Senior Member
Username: mark_gilligan

Post Number: 586
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 01:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I agree with the statement "I have no patience for people who think they can subscribe to a guide specification provider and not still have to research, think, and work hard to produce a decent project manual."

In the case of a consultant, such as structural engineer, generic master specifications provide relatively little benefit. The consultant will typically have more knowledge of the products and related code requirements than the author of the master who must spread his effort over a greater number of sections.

The big issues for consultants is formatting their sections to look like the architect's (remember each architect is different) and coordinating with project wide requirements such as LEED or submittals.
Sheldon Wolfe
Senior Member
Username: sheldon_wolfe

Post Number: 658
Registered: 01-2003

Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 - 03:35 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I gave up the "look like the architect's" battle years ago. Some consultants couldn't get it right, and even though I had a couple of macros that worked near-miracles on their sections, I had too many more important things to take care of than consistent format.

The content is what's important, and as long as the fonts and margins are reasonable (most are) I take what I get. I'm more concerned about needless content (stuff that's in the bidding requirements, conditions of the contract, and Division 01), and that battle continues.
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 587
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 09:37 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I began using MasterSpec in 1978 and had the pleasure of serving on the MasterSpec Architectural Review Committee several years ago. The primary knock on it then was at
That it was too verbose. Compared to the product offered today, it was way too verbose. The current trend leans toward offering more "narrow scope" sections which will require less editing (see what has happened with toilet partitions). The Paragraph Builder is a significant step toward a database spec which should be better at keeping the list of manufacturers currents (think of the ICI to Akzo Nobel to PPG transitions occurring in less than 5 years).

Generating specs for a project is hard work no matter where you start. You have to edit by addition and deletion, verifying that what you keep is still current (not that it will still be current when that particular product is actually installed). For most products, the last spec can be used, but when an error creeps it, it can be a doozy. I was recently looking at some office masters for a firm that does mostly car dealerships. Their spec for carpet should ave been fo carpet tile, but it was a pretty detailed spec for aixminster carpet.

The efficient specifier is not doctrinaire about the source of the content, but seeks to understand the project's requirements and edit the source material accordingly. Source material that is dynamic and rigorously current is critical to the process. The development and evolution of SpecAgent and Paragraph Builder are examples of was in which ARCOM is addressing this issue,
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 285
Registered: 06-2005

Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 - 12:52 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

JP, my thoughts exactly on Arcom's narrowscoping of sections, and even article's within the sections over the past several years - should help many users avoid the old problems of too easily leaving manufacturer's in the spec who do not make the very narrow group of products finally chosen after editing all the requirements. Plus it is a huge step toward BIM connectivity.

Anne, I agree that there will always be some users who will complain no matter what is being done. Yes Ken even MARC members at times, as in the case of the MPI example, but Arcom is doing what will best serve the majority of users. There will be some who don't understand, some who do understand but choose to go another direction with that spec section - that is fine - and perhaps some who partly understand and misjudge.

I will also join with Anne and Alan in saying I've worked for several firms that use MS as their base documents and yes real firms do deal with sometimes long lists of manufacturers, and of course we tailor them down for the region and project needs! (which will get easier with Paragraph Builder). I don't understand how users who have this complaint would not have the same exact complaint with any guide spec system that names manufacturers. You have to research if you write specs. You have to modify the guide spec text, it is a GUIDE spec. You have to use the tools as intended and not fight the tools, and then the real benefit will become more fully realized. If you over-rely on past projects, trouble is not far down the road. Where is this implication that using MasterSpec means relying on past projects though - those to me seem to be polar opposite ways to produce specs.

In doing this latest change that started this thread, Arcom has made available a powerful solution that allows products to be filtered by your design choices, and it sounds to me like they are at the same time fully addressing the old complaint that out of business manufacturers are not removed and names are not updated quickly enough, by implementing Paragraph Builder.

By the way there are TWO database spec systems available for interacting with Arcom MasterSpec content. http://www.specware.info/ (See the two on the right.) Both of them have come light years from the old way of managing customized office masters. BSD has I believe the longest history in databasing specs, but my experience there is limited to demo versions because the firms I was with were previously committed to other solutions; I can say that my peers who have used it (SpecLink) were enthusiastic.

Before I go further, let me mention that I'm just a spec writer for a large A/E firm and I have no dog in any fight here, i.e. no one is paying me to say any of this. I just might have some unique insight from working at a variety of firm sizes and business models for producing specs, and I've worked on guide specs and software in the past. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, just hoping to help clear up misunderstandings that abound on this thread.

As product innovation and marketplace changes continue to abound, Arcom is doing something about it. Paint is one good example, for which they are sometimes misjudged. I congratulate Arcom on their ongoing work to incorporate the wealth of non-proprietary reliable info that MPI brings, and the recent announcement in one trade journal I ran across that they will be integrating with MPI in Paragraph Builder. Our firm customizes the office master spec sections for painting to simplify adding specific products, if needed going beyond MPI, and including some recent code changes and best practices we've learned. Does that mean I should complain that Arcom is making more changes in this area for fear I can't update the office master? No, I look forward to seeing their innovation and adapting as needed to take advantage of the new tools.

Without MPI we would be lost in a sea of ever-changing and non-equivalent information, with nothing to believe in except the firm handshake, sudden look in the eye and easy smile of a rep. To even begin to accomplish what MPI has, one would have to collect and peruse thousands of pages of product literature and compare test reports, but forget about the testing methods and info being consistent. Days or weeks of research would be needed to produce the same quality of specifications without MPI, or you would have to abandon ensuring "apples to apples" and rely primarily on what reps tell you, and later respond to the school of hard knocks and update your master over many years - but then the products change again and you must start over!

MPI is EASY to use for specifications if you subscribe at www.specifypaint.com for research information. If you haven't, you just don't have any idea what all you are missing. You can research by coating SYSTEM, not just by approved products as found at their basic site www.paintinfo.com. Once you have access to the specifier's full information, vast info is at your fingertips if you follow the systems evaluations links (you can tell I'm a Classic Site user), or you can go without the evaluations and just look at the systems only if you are already familiar. And if you use the new site with Decision Tree I really don't understand how it could be any easier. There is even now an agreement where MPI will become integrated into the new Paragraph Builder and some manufacturers will offer Product MasterSpec like sections in the new system. If you don't have a specifypaint subscription you are not totally in the dark because the editor notes and supporting documents in MasterSpec provide much of the info you need. Some people may be tripped up if they don't understand that this is one of those sections you'd better edit as 3-2-1. It just makes sense to choose the substrates and the coating systems for only those substrates, then review the products, and then the administrative requirements. If you still have problems with paint specifications it might not be MPI's fault, they can't do everything - the specifier still has to know which paint manufacturers are reputable and present in their region, and sometimes choose between multiple options of similar products based on what the project requires.

For anyone who thinks of specs as a CYA document while they are producing them, that is all they will ever be, filled with junk you thought you might need, not useful for bidding and construction, making all the truly necessary text less and less defensible. Some firms have been too accepting of understaffing of technical people. That is more the problem than guide spec systems. If you don't have people on staff who really know contracts and how a building goes together and doesn't leak, you will have legal and constructability and liability problems. BS specs are just the beginning, no guide spec system will help, and just wait 'til you try BiM without understanding what the elements are that you are drawing based on incorrect and proprietary products and then using that 2 right specks!

Of course we hope for much better from most of those who frequent this discussion forum.

I'm sure I've covered too wide a range of issues and made everybody mad somewhere or other...
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 562
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 - 06:26 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Hi Chris. It is really be a shame when open discussions get people angry though it obviously happens. Hope we're still friends. I'm probably still more offensive than offended so I ask forgiveness if I pissed anyone off.

Also I apologize for introducing MPI into this discussion. Obviously some people like it. I find it to be a false positive that I'm just not comfortable resorting to. I'm still happy to find the systems that work for my project and then have my 'golden reps' work with me to create a workable document. Just being an old fart. Nothing new here.

As to my other comments, all I was saying is that if you don't like MasterSpec, don't use it. My company just renewed our subscription for several of our offices where it is used extensively (but certainly not exclusively). I like doing my own product research; it's something I enjoy doing and I think I do an adequate job with it. I prefer relying on Colin instead of Spec Agent to keep me in touch with manufacturers. He does a much better job of it IMHO. I don't list manufacturers without listing products so I may be a bit of an oddity. I don't know what everyone else does.

As far as I can tell, everyone I know on this forum is a topnotch Specifier. That's one of the reasons I enjoy participating here; each of you brings up my game whether we agree or not.

Am I hoping that spec writing technology improves at a faster rate than it has to date? Yes. Considering we were hearing that we would have real, working BIM no later than 1999, I accept that it still may happen in my professional lifetime (no, I don't ever expect to retire so yes, professional and otherwise are the same). Do I think that the vast majority within our industry will be just as lost using a real BIM as they are using 3D, object-oriented CAD? Yes. I just hope that we are in a position to help select products that can be plugged into the model and used correctly. If UniFormat is still the classification system of choice for Revit at that time, and I can get my company to understand the concept and benefit of the PPD, my hope is that we'll morph to a complete systems approach and maybe get to practice and communicate holistic design.

Then again, reality does usually raise its ugly head come the end of the day. Still, I'm not giving up hope!
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 1359
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 - 08:14 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Hey Ken-
pretty soon, the stuff you're concerned about will be in the back corner -- just wait until you start dealing with LEED version 4! I got a paint submittal that is using yams for the colorant.
Alan Mays, AIA
Senior Member
Username: amays

Post Number: 131
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 - 09:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Chris, I am not mad. Never really was. I can attest that Ken is the best specifier I have ever worked with in my 30+ year career as an architect. Do Ken and I have different opinions at times? OF COURSE! Let's get him talking about Bentonite or MPI over drinks and cigars! Having been a specifier in my career has made me very aware of what the specs are used for. I however have recently looked back at an old set of specs versus what we create now. The older spec was clear concise and only about an 1"-1 1/2" thick. Today, we are all over the map! Trying to do a bathroom remodel in a church and getting specs that are 3" thick doesn't do the contractor in his truck much good. Yes, I have recently seen that very situation. Having junior CAs come up to me with RFI over RFI with questions that can be answered in the spec also tells me the same. I also get the same issue with the contractor and his subs when I go to the site. Projects have an increase of substitutions asked for all the time. All this burning up the architect's CA budget. You might say that I should go to the client for additional fee, but the clients are the contractor many times. I won't even go into the Design Build issues that arise on occasion. The industry is repeatedly asking for usable documents all the time. All I ask is, producing specs that take 6-8 weeks to review a value when your CD schedule is only 8 weeks? I currently know of at least 3 projects that have that very schedule and they are 4-6 floors of wood construction over type 1 podiums and 2-3 floors below grade. BTW, they are apartments and condos. More and more clients are trying to omit the specifications all together. We have a client who is self performing and they instructed us not to produce a spec. We did and guess what. They don't read it since they will do what they see fit. FYI, this is actually a good client at this time. BIM is pushing us into a realm that we produce CDs at this breakneck pace. Try getting and reviewing a set of specs in that time frame. That is why the need for databasing is now a requirement.

The issue is that Arcom and other spec houses are just now accepting this challenge and they are slow with their response. BIM has been around for quite a while and currently the specs are lagging the most. The other thing is that currently solutions are mainly for Revit and little attention has been paid to other BIM tools. What they are coming out with is beta at best and work arounds have to be developed in order to get them to even work. BIM is a 2 way street and getting spec info into the documents is tough. It is not necessarily their fault as the Bim manufacturers are just as guilty.

Bottom line is that schedules are getting continually stressed to the point that providing proper documents is getting tougher and tougher. People are not reading them, reviewing them and that is costing architects good reputations along with good specifiers. Many clients are saying why do I need an architect. so as the architect goes, the specifier goes too.

As a start, can we take a good hard look at what everyone provides and see how to address these important issues? Think about who uses the documents. Are they really using them? What do the documents actually say? This includes drawings and specifications. Many an article has been discussing the growth of drawings and how we just created drawing after drawing without any meaning. I started looking at ways to reduce the document sets and make them clear and concise. Surprising how a smaller set of drawings has brought back quality into the mix. People coordinate better. Can we actually do the same with specs? I think so. So what does that all mean in a MasterSpec conversation? Well as many have said here, we all start with MS, BSD, and others as a base. They need to change their systems to adapt to the user needs. Making it more complicated isn't the answer. What I find is that some companies start with MS and then add even more instead of looking how to make them more concise. Maybe if we had a concise spec to begin with that would help us to be better at simplifying the specifications without damaging them.

Awwww, time to get off my soap box. Ken, have you gotten that PPD done yet? LOL! Well, that is my 2 cents worth.
ken hercenberg
Senior Member
Username: khercenberg

Post Number: 563
Registered: 12-2006

Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 10:07 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Yams? Really? So much for longevity. I guess if the owner is planning on repainting every year or two, it won't really matter how long the paint keeps its color.

What MPI number do yams fall under?

Alan, that must have been a weak moment doling out such high praise to me. Let me know what I owe you and I'll write you an EPDM check (can't get real rubber anymore).
spiper (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 10:09 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I agree with Ken, the MPI system is still somewhat suspect in our area. There has been a great deal of push back from painting contractors.

I also agree with Alan that specs in general are getting Fat and not always with good reason. However my experience has indicated that a lot of that problem, at least in the public/institutional sector, has been in the front end and not necessarily the product sections. Much of this additional paper comes from the client's "legal team" and we are instructed to include it even if we register concerns over it's value. Not sure what the solution is to that but it is frustrating when a contractor looks at our product (the spec) as one big CYA document.

On a lighter note: Anne's yam colored paint made me picture little bitty marshmallows floating on a sea of orange.
Randall A Chapple, CSI, CCS, AIA, SE, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: rachapple

Post Number: 81
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 10:47 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Back to Master Specs, will the new manufacturers date work without internet access? I work in locations where I do now always have internet access (on the train) and this is a problem.
Paul Brosnahan, AIA, CSI, CCS
New member
Username: paulbrosnahan

Post Number: 1
Registered: 07-2013
Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 12:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Regarding the original posting, manufacturer and product lists do remain in MasterSpec. Lists are reached through Masterworks Paragraph Builder. With this productivity tool, users can edit options in opening paragraphs, find and select dynamically updated manufacturers and products for an entire section, and preview results for accuracy. These steps allow design professionals to prepare specification documents more efficiently.

For details, see http://www.spectalk.com/2013/03/getting-started-with-masterworks.html

The Evaluations continue to play a vital role in the MasterSpec specification system. They may be reached through Masterworks (on the ribbon or in a drop-down menu), just as they have for years.
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 286
Registered: 06-2005

Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 02:53 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Paul thanks for the very CONCISE follow-up! (If I get any wordier Colin will have to move me over to the newsletters section like some of our other friends here.)

Ken how about MPI INT 9.2L BIOMASS COATINGS....hehehe...and of course we are friends! I welcome other people's perspectives; forums are great for this sort of thing. Maybe I worded too sharply due to a deadline nagging my mind and using the forum as a tiny reprieve, I did not mean to vent at anyone. No apologies needed, from anyone here! You all bring up my game too and I really appreciate that. I'm reminded again that I need to learn to trust 'golden reps' too, and I do with a few but they are getting harder to find.

I hear what you all are saying about specs being less usable the longer they become. That to me is a case for two things: Specifiers and their PA's (sometimes the same person) really writing to the scope of the project and not including anything that they do not know is in the project, and secondly, choosing a library to start with that reflects the complexity of the project. It would be worth looking at MasterSpec Small Project for firms who would design the renovation of just a bathroom, and if they do that often, they could pre-edit the currently needed sections with track changes on as a first pass to represent their typical project and save it in a folder for master specification development. Then copy the sections to the project and finish editing. Before long you would have an extremely useful tool for providing usable specs for such projects.

If we give the contracting team the info that they NEED, in concise form (all 4 of the C's actually), they will be the first to ask for the project manual. Oh, and put the finish schedule in the project manual too, it becomes then an indispensable tool, as intended. It's also easier when working with a full size set of drawings if you don't have to keep flipping to the finish schedule sheet on the drawings, you can keep that open in 8.5 x 11 format right beside the drawings.
Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 529
Registered: 12-2002

Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 03:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Randall: You need to move to some other less backward country, like Japan, or most of Europe, where they not only have trains, but have internet connectivity on them! Problem solved!

I'm just digesting the paragraph builder aspect. It appears to me that having to make the selection of manufacturers/products, rather than just leaving in a list, will go a long way toward reducing the major grumbling I hear from manufacturers about the specifications they receive: unedited manufacturer lists. The second major grumble: receiving master specifications that have had no editing whatsoever.

I don't think any specification system can overcome endemic user ignorance or laziness, but as this latest development appears to bring with it the potential for ongoing updating of manufacturer and product information, that will be a very good thing. It's an especially good thing for the thousands of users who are not full time specifiers and do not maintain databases and brain cells full of up to date product information the way that many amazing participants of this forum seem to.
Edward J Dueppen, RA, CSI, CCS, LEED AP
New member
Username: edueppen

Post Number: 1
Registered: 08-2013
Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 04:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I suppose I am late to the party, but here is my take on the issue:

While I do not object to the concept of ARCOM's "Paragraph Builder" (PB), it is their rendition of it that causes concern. I discovered that most of the links within PB for Section 072100 were faulty - no manufacturers or products show in the dialogue boxes. I contacted ARCOM support and their solution was to send me the Word document for the OLDER version of that Section. They included in their response "please let us know if you run across anything else" - what, am I beta testing this for them?!?!? Am I getting a discount for using a beta version? Of course not.

When I contacted ARCOM about a permanent solution to the problem or getting corrections out to all of the other subscribers, I was greeted with the sound of crickets chirping.

FYI - I have now found a total of 3 sections that have faulty PB links.

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