Canadian Consulting Engineer

New Masterformat reorganizes construction specifying

January 29, 2004
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) in the U.S. has announced that it has completed the bulk of the wor...

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) in the U.S. has announced that it has completed the bulk of the work in revamping its MasterFormat, which is undergoing a radical transformation for 2004.

MasterFormat is the specifications-writing standard for most non-residential building design and construction projects in North America. It divides building components into different divisions to help construction specifiers and others organize their documents.

Now, for the first time, the document is being extended beyond buildings to cover engineering — both heavy civil engineering and process engineering.

The CSI is working with groups in the industry to begin the transition to the new edition, which is due out late in 2004. Among the groups being consulted are the American Society for Civil Engineers, Construction Specifications Canada, and Autodesk.


CSI outlines the major changes in 2004 as follows:

New Divisions for Buildings’ Fast-Advancing Areas To cover new subjects and provide room for future expansion, MasterFormat’s 16-division structure has expanded. There are new divisions addressing such rapidly advancing technologies as computer and telecommunications networks, integrated building automation systems, and electronic safety and security.

Separate Plumbing and HVAC Divisions In response to industry input, separate divisions have been established for plumbing and for heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC). Though two different disciplines, they are organized together in one division (Mechanical) in the current edition, MasterFormat 95.

Much More Room Within Each Division MasterFormat 04’s new six-digit numbering system for the sections within divisions replaces the previous edition’s five-digit numbers. That makes it possible for a division to have over 9,800 “level three” sections, a more than hundredfold increase in space.

Coverage Extended to Engineering Projects The 2004 edition is the first to cover engineering related construction. The Site and Infrastructure subgroup (divisions 30-39) provides specifications sections for transportation, utility, and marine construction activities. The Process Equipment subgroup (divisions 40-49) addresses industrial construction and process engineering construction. That includes electric power generation plants and equipment, wastewater treatment plants, and the construction of process heating, cooking and drying equipment, pollution control equipment, and solid waste equipment.

Space Reserved for Future Expansion The new edition is designed to allow for adding new information in future updates without having to revamp the overall structure. Eighteen of the 49 division numbers in MasterFormat 04 are reserved for such expansion. They are to be used to address new construction products, technologies and issues as they arise over the years.

CSI points out that despite its new features, much of MasterFormat 04 will be familiar to current users. Divisions 3-14, which cover many structural and architectural aspects of building construction, are similar in content to those same divisions in MasterFormat 95.

The MasterFormat 04 outline can be downloaded from:


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