Updating MasterFormat

Keith Robinson, RSW, CSI, FCSC, LEED AP
The MasterFormat 2014 Update includes hundreds of revisions from the previous 2012 update. Among the key revisions were changes to agreements contained in Division 00–Procurement and Contracting Requirements to account for evolving contract delivery processes in the construction industry as a whole.

There are also numerous updates, additions, and revisions to numbers and titles throughout. Some of the highlights include:

  • rationalized content in Division 11 Specialties by changing several higher-level titles to give a more consistent organization of equipment work results;
  • new parallel content in Divisions 12 Furnishings and 32 Exterior Improvements to improve understanding of locations for often similar interior public space furnishings and exterior site furnishings;
  • revisions to Divisions 32 Exterior Improvements and 34 Transportation that captured key work results relating to airport infrastructure construction that aligns specification content with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada requirements; and
  • extensive work with members of the Environmental Engineering Coalition on revision of Division 40, including a change in title to ‘Process Interconnections,’ and expansion of industrial scale pump classifications in Division 43 Process Gas and Liquid Handling, Purification, and Storage Equipment to help better meet user needs for work on process and heavy engineering projects.

There were additional changes throughout the document, including addition of numbers and titles relating to historical preservation and renovation, and improvements to “See Also” and “Includes” statements throughout to help users and make coordination of subject matter easier.

Many of the changes, such as those associated with Divisions 40 and 43, are the culmination of up to six years of effort by the MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team (MFMTT) and associated corresponding members to arrive at the best resolution.

A ‘living’ document, MasterFormat is maintained with the intent of being easily adapted to communicate project-specific requirements to the consumers of construction specifications. In comparison with the 16-division pre-2004 editions, the current 50-division format allows for more consistent placement of work results and expansion to meet the needs of the high degree of specialization now present in the construction industry. MasterFormat has been on a regular update cycle since 2010; currently updated every two years, its next update is scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.

MasterFormat allows for a range of flexibility in the specifying community by permitting specifiers to introduce user-defined numbers and titles into their project-specific work. This is a good approach to ‘test-fit’ a new or unknown work result; one that permits a specifier to group similar work results or products, and maintain clarity of the documentation process.

As a result, it is user-driven document—specifiers can submit user-defined numbers and titles at the MasterFormat.com website to propose their introduction as standardized content in the next update. Available to all CSI members, the site provides a master list of numbers and titles including the latest revisions, and a transition guide to assist in updating out-of-date content. (The MFMTT decision-making process and criteria is also available on the website to help increase the likelihood of acceptance for proposals.)

The 50-division MasterFormat has gained unprecedented industry-wide acceptance over the last couple of years. It is used at all phases of project delivery through organization of project information, assembly of project manuals, preparation of detailed costing information, and building relationships between drawing notations or building information model (BIM) content to the specification.

The revisions in the 2014 update to MasterFormat are organic and evolutionary in nature—this is in contrast to the wholesale reorganizations and significant changes that used to accompany new editions prior to 2004. The carefully planned updating process is clearly working.

MasterFormat 2014 Update will be available through the online bookstore at www.csinet.org/store.

Keith Robinson, RSW, CSI, FCSC, LEED AP, is a specifications writer with the Edmonton, Alberta, office of DIALOG. He has spent several years updating his firm’s library and master specifications to reflect the various challenges of identifying building materials and techniques relating to environmentally sustainable construction. Chair of the CSI-CSC MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team, Robinson has also provided contract documents and technical solutions for major projects in Canada, Egypt, Japan, and Costa Rica. He is Construction Specification Canada’s (CSC’s) 1st vice-president. Robinson can be reached at krobinson@designdialog.ca.

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