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CSI publishes standard formats for many of the different documents that a project team issues as part of the design and construction process.  These formats take the brain damage out of figuring out where to locate construction information.

CSI’s SectionFormat and PageFormat provide a standardized way to organize a specification section.  When we use SectionFormat and PageFormat, we know where to put information in a section, where to look for information, and what someone is talking about when they refer to an “Article.”

Why is this important?  Some may think it doesn’t matter what these components of the project manual and spec sections are called…but it does.  Standardization is especially important when modifications to the documents are being made during bidding or construction.

Complete, revised spec sections are not always issued in construction document modifications such as Addenda; sometimes a couple of sentences are enough to accurately describe the modification to the documents.  However, when complete documents aren’t issued, it’s essential to pinpoint the exact location of the change to the documents, so that bidders or the contractor can accurately find the change quickly.  In order to pinpoint the location of the change, accurate terms to describe the location in the specifications should be used.

CSI has established a common language for the construction industry to use.

  1. The Project Manual is divided into Divisions.
  2. Divisions are divided into Sections.
  3. Each Section is divided into three Parts.
  4. Each Part is made up of an Article or Articles.
  5. Articles are made up of a Paragraph or Paragraphs.
  6. Paragraphs may have subparagraphs.

In an informal survey of several construction professionals on the general contractor / estimator / subcontractor / vendor side, almost all agreed that a description of the change that includes “Article” and the title of the article, “Paragraph” and the heading or some beginning words from the paragraph, and “Subparagraph” and some words from the subparagraph, helps to make the description of the change more easily found in an Addendum.  This helps with bidding and construction.

Architects are often extremely creative people who like to do things their own way.  However, following the rules about placement of information doesn’t take creativity away from the design process.  Following the rules actually frees up more time to be creative with the things that should be part of the design process.  So don’t waste your time getting creative with naming parts of your specs or placement of information!  Follow CSI’s standards for locating information and apply the time you save to the design your projects.

Originated by Morayma Salas, written by Liz O’Sullivan