In April¿s column, I discussed in general the formats that create a road map for finding your way through a construction contract. MasterFormat organizes the written documents into 16 Divisions, and the requirements for the materials and products and their installation are described in Sections. I briefly discussed where the formats for these documents come from: the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) publishes them as parts of the Manual of Practice (MOP). I mentioned the Section¿s three Parts, General, Products, and Execution, and described the list of article titles as a checklist to help the specification writer remember what should be covered and to arrange the information in a consistent way. Let¿s look at this format in more detail.

The three Parts of a Section (General, Products, and Execution) are always included, and if one of them includes no requirements, the title is written and the text says ¿Not used.¿ The first level of division inside a Part is the article. If you use a typical alphanumeric outline organization, each article is numbered, the number starting with the number of the Part: 2.1, 2.2, or 2.01, 2.02. SectionFormat provides you with a list of article titles ¿ the checklist for what may be required in a specification Section and the guide for looking through a Section for the information you want.

Introduction and Administrative Requirements

Part 1, General, begins with Summary, an article for giving the gist of what the Section contains and a guide for things you might look for there which are specified elsewhere. In Section 16231, Packaged Engine Generators, 1.1 Summary might have these paragraphs: ¿A. This section includes a diesel-engine generator with a weather enclosure. B: Related section: Transfer switch is specified in Section 16415.¿ You may want to use the more detailed article titles listed, and have one article 1.1 Section Includes and another 1.2 Related Sections, but the information will be included in a consistent order. The Summary paragraph, or separate articles, describe allowances, unit prices, and alternates if they apply to the work specified. Part 1 articles may also include Definitions; Submittals; Quality Assurance; Delivery, Storage, and Handling; Project Conditions; Sequencing; and Maintenance.

Describing the Stuff

Part 2, Products, begins with an article for listing Manufacturers, if the contract permits them to be restricted or suggested. In federal and some other public contracts, this article is not used. The other article titles set an order for the possible topics to be covered in describing the products. Section 15080, Mechanical Insulation, might use the article Materials to describe the basic fiberglass and elastomeric materials, the coatings, and the adhesives used, then continue in an Article describing the manufactured units to describe the specific composite products to insulate piping, ducts, and equipment. Articles addressing the subject as Equipment, Components, or Accessories may suit your topic. These are followed by articles for Fabrication (maybe that generator has to be shipped in sections to fit through an existing door), Finishes, and finally Source Quality Control ¿ a place to specify the factory testing which may be required for equipment such as chillers or generators. (Remember that the report of the results of the factory test should be listed in the Part 1 Article, Submittals).

Getting it Built Right

Part 3, Execution, starts with the reminder that you may need to state requirements for site verification or preparation, before getting into a choice of titles to suit your product: Erection, Installation, Application, or Construction. Articles are also offered for Repair and for Reinstallation. Field Quality Control is where you specify tests done after the product is in place. For painting, you might require a test of film thickness; for chillers, you might require tests to demonstrate that the operating sound level meets the manufacturer¿s published data. The final articles suggest Adjusting, Cleaning, Demonstration, and Protection (for special methods of protecting the work during construction, such as covering floor drains). At the very end of the Section, the Article Schedules is the location for any information you have found best presented in the form of tables or matrices. My piping systems Sections include tables identifying the piping materials permitted for steam at various pressures, heating water, chilled water, and others. My conduit Section ends with a schedule of types of conduit and the locations where they are required or permitted.

If you know the structure, you can use it to make specifications you prepare complete and consistent. To the extent that specifiers nationwide know and follow the same system, every user of specifications can find information quickly.