By CSI I mean the Construction Specifications Institute’s MasterFormat 2004, of course. CSI MasterFormat is essentially the Dewey Decimal system of the construction industry. In CSI MasterFormat there are two major groups: (1) Procurement and Contracting Requirements and (2) Specifications. The first group contains the paperwork to start, finish and keep the project running, such as contracts, meeting notes, site data and closeout forms. The second group is the big one. It’s what we think of when people talk about MasterFormat. The Specifications group is a huge list of materials, products and equipment.
Of course, Specifications is separated nicely. First it is broken into subgroups such as General Requirements, Facility Construction, Process Equipment, etc. Each subgroup is then separated into divisions. There are 48 divisions total ranging from electrical to concrete, plumbing to finishes, and a host of others.
The divisions are, obviously, not specific enough. That’s when the specifications come into play. For example, if you have a sample of some steel decking used for roofs, you would first go to the Specifications Group and then look at the Facility Construction Subgroup. Next you would look under Division 05-Metals and go to Metal Decking, which is number 05 30 00. But it actually gets even more specific than that! Under Metal Decking, you can find Steel Decking at 05 31 00. You have three options under Steel Decking, one of which is 05 31 23 Steel Roof Decking. Believe it or not, this is actually much easier than it sounds. Here’s a small screenshot to prove it! I’ve highlighted this example in yellow:
Though generally used in commercial and government applications, we’ve found a great use for the CSI MasterFormat system here in the office. Our product files are arranged according to this system (though, believe me, when you have over a decade of product files to sift through, it takes quite a while to implement!). One of my favorite reasons to use this system is because, like the Dewey Decimal system, if you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, you can just go to that general area and look around. Because everything is separated into categories, it’s easy to see all the options at once.
If you’re interested in learning more about CSI MasterFormat, take a look at the book in .pdf form here. If you’re having trouble figuring out what number is appropriate, Arcat has a wonderful CSI Search Engine that can search out the company name or product type. The best resource for this is the CSI website, where you can find out more or become certified. CSI is the industry standard and definitely worth checking out.
© Rose Construction 2009