Canadian Consulting Engineer

Engineering is a big part of MasterFormat expansion

January 30, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada are are working on radical changes...

The Construction Specifications Institute and Construction Specifications Canada are are working on radical changes to the MasterFormat document. The proposed expansion and reformulation will have a great impact on consulting engineers.

MasterFormat is the standard generally used throughout Canada and the U.S. to organize construction specifications. It organizes the bidding, contracting and written specifications under a series of titles and headings for virtually every detail of a structure. The system is also used as a reference keynoting on drawings.

For the last 39 years of its history MasterFormat has been laid out in 16 divisions according to different sectors of the construction process. Now CSI is in the throes of reorganizing the document and expanding it considerably, possibly into as many as 40 divisions.

A team has been meeting since 2001 and has solicited public and stakeholder comment on several drafts and proposals already. A new draft will be available for review in April, and the goal is to have the final document on sale by the summer of 2004.


One of the most important aims is to make the MasterFormat more acceptable to engineering disciplines. Until now the format has primarily served architects. Various proposed schemes are under consideration, but it is likely that the civil engineering section will be expanded. Presently civil engineering is in Division 2 and relates only to building sites. The structural engineering sections are not likely to change to a great degree, but the mechanical and engineering disicplines will expand and there will most likely be a separate division for telecommunications — a response to lobbying by the industry.

Proposals are also being considered for having separate divisions for process engineering that would apply to water and waste projects and power generation.

The MasterFormat has come to be used as a product classification system, but it was not designed for that. The CSI task team has suggested that the product classification function should be dropped and instead the OmniClass Construction Classification System based on an international standard should be used.

The MasterFormat Expansion Task Team will be working on Draft 2 of the proposals between January 23 through March 31.

See for more details.


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