Although it is generally understood that the documents prepared by the architect and engineer are not used to describe the means and methods of construction, referring to these documents as "construction documents" can imply otherwise. This is why it is good to have a clear understanding that the "contract documents" are the documents that include the drawings and specifications that communicate the design intent of the architects and engineers. The actual construction procedures, means, and methods are the responsibility of the contractor(s).


Start by getting a perspective of where Division 1 falls in the hierarchy of the specifications, contract documents, and construction documents. The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) has developed the "MasterFormat," which provides a framework of outlining the industry standard 50 divisions (formerly 16 divisions) which includes "Division 1 - General Requirements." In this regard, Division 1 is part of the contract documents, which are part of the construction documents. CSI's Project Resource Manual (PRM) explains this in greater detail and can be obtained through the CSI webpage (

According to CSI, the construction documents are defined as "the written and graphic documents prepared or assembled by the A/E for communicating the project design for construction and administering the construction contract. The Construction documents include two major groups of documents:

  • Procurement documents
  • Contract documents."

CSI further explains that "The contract documents describe the proposed construction (referred to as the Work) that results from performing services, furnishing labor, and supplying and incorporating materials and equipment into the construction. Contract documents consist of both written and graphic elements and typically include the following:

  • Contracting requirements
  • Specifications
  • Contract drawings."

With respect to Division 1, CSI states in the PRM that, "Division 1 specifies procedural requirements common to many specification sections and to the project as a whole. Most of these requirements are related to the administrative activities of the project, and others govern products and execution requirements."

The PRM also clarifies that "Division 1 sections expand on certain of the administrative and procedural provisions in the conditions of the contract and apply broadly to the execution of the work of all the other sections of the specifications."


In the purest sense of preparing contract documents, the various parts of the contract documents complement each other. There is no need to duplicate information since the contract documents function as a unit. Division 1 expands on the provisions of the contract by giving just enough detail to apply broadly to the other specification sections. Each specification section and drawing further expands on Division 1 and provides detailed requirements for specific portions of the work.

The sections in Division 1 specify administrative requirements, procedural requirements, temporary facilities and controls, performance requirements, and life-cycle activities. The Division 1 sections are written in the three-part format like the other specification sections.

Division 1 sections need to be edited on a project-by-project-basis, just like all other specification sections. Over- or under-specifying the requirements in Division 1 can increase construction costs or cause confusion that may cause a contactor to misinterpret the contract requirements and underbid the project.

"Division 1 - General Requirements" is one of the parts of the contract documents that may be seldom attract attention until a dispute arises. However, it is one that can help owners and contractors gain a better understanding of how the contract documents function and what the requirements of the contract are.

For a more complete understanding of Division 1 and the preparation and use of contract documents, study the PRM. Regardless of whether someone is new to the building industry or has been practicing for years, there are concepts in the PRM that can help ensure that your contract documents are clear, concise, complete, and correct.