Coordinating specifications with an owner’s Division 00

Figure 1: The documents that typically comprise Division 00. Image courtesy HDR
Figure 1: The documents that typically comprise Division 00.
Image courtesy HDR

Basic, yet critical principles

When the construction documents are organized in accordance with CSI’s principles—and most of them are to some extent—there is a ‘system’ at work, which many design professionals and owners may be unaware of. Understanding this is critical to achieving a properly coordinated set of construction documents. According to CSI MasterFormat, Division 00 comprises procurement and contracting requirements and includes the documents indicated in Figure 1.

When the project involves using Division 00 documents with which the design professional is unfamiliar, it is important for the architectural or engineering team to read and understand them.

The project’s general conditions, which may be modified by supplementary conditions, set forth broad administrative and procedural requirements and basic allocations of risk and responsibility that are often expanded on in Division 01 specifications. Thus, Division 01 should have a close relationship with the general conditions. These are further expanded in “Part 1–General” of the Division 02-49 specifications via requirements specific to the work results of that section. This essential interrelationship of the general conditions, Division 01, and “Part 1–General” of the specifications is illustrated in Figure 2.

Professionals preparing construction specifications need to understand the importance of these interrelationships to reduce the potential for coordination problems at the construction stage.

To underscore this point, the organization of topics in Division 01 of CSI MasterFormat—used for organizing the spec sections and other documents in project manuals—is identical to the order of topics in “Part 1–General” of CSI SectionFormat, which is an organizational format for the provisions within a specifications section.

The documents in the project manual—Division 00, addenda, and the specifications of Divisions 01-49—are not the only ones requiring coordination. The drawings as well as the terms and terminology used in them must be consistent with the project manual.

Once construction starts, the need for coordinating documents continues, as the design professional drafts contract modifications such as change orders. To ensure consistent interpretations, all the components of the contract documents need to be fully coordinated and integrated with Division 00 and each other.

Coordination tips

Perhaps the best way to ensure coordinated construction documents is for the owner to allow use of the design professional’s own standard construction documents, which, presumably, include Division 00 documents that are well-coordinated with Divisions 01-49 specifications. In many cases, this means the architect’s standard specifications are coordinated with the standard Division 00 documents of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), especially AIA A201, Standard General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, and engineers’ standard construction documents for engineer-led projects are coordinated with the Division 00 documents of the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC), especially EJCDC C-700, Standard General Conditions of the Construction Contract.

However, many owners have their own set of Division 00 documents. Often, an owner’s Division 00 is unique to them and has many years of entrenched history, thus they and their legal counsel may be reluctant to allow design professionals to use their own AIA or EJCDC Division 00 documents. So, it is often necessary for design professionals to combine Divisions 01-49 specifications with the owner’s Division 00 documents. The following tips can help effect the necessary coordination among the documents.

Identify the source documents in the design professional’s scope of services

In the design professional’s proposal and scope of services, the source documents for Division 00 and the specifications should be clearly identified. Failure to do this could create a deep hole in the design professional’s budget and schedule. If the signed professional services agreement clearly identifies the source documents, and the owner later decides other documents are necessary, the design professional has a basis for negotiating a suitable amendment to the contract, with appropriate changes in compensation and time. As discussed later in this article, the time needed to use different Division 00 documents can be substantial.

Properly budget the effort

Even under ideal circumstances, many architects and engineers under-budget the preparation of Division 00 documents and specifications. The time and effort to coordinate specifications with someone else’s Division 00 can be considerable. In this writer’s experience, not less than 40 to 80 work hours by an experienced specifier, already familiar with the project’s Division 00, is necessary to edit the Division 01 specifications in order to coordinate with an owner’s non-standard Division 00. Also, additional time is required for appropriate coordination of revisions in Divisions 02-49, although the effort for that may be less on a per-section basis than what is necessary for Division 01.

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