Specifications, often referred to as specs, are technical standards that are typically a part of contract documents, guiding the construction of a building. Specifications for building materials or products can be either performance or presciptive based, but are often a combination of both specifying for certain manufacturers as well as performance standards.
3 Part Specifications
3 Part Specifications documents are developed using the industry concensus standards developed jointly by Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) and Construction Specifications Institutute (CSI) of the United States. When edited for a project, these documents become an integral part of Project Manuals used for bidding and contractual purposes. They are important legal documents which become “source documents” for litigation purposes to determine the expected quality of materials and services required of the product. Due to this critical role, specifications standards for language, brevity, format, and content, significantly decrease the potential for litigation; protecting both the manufacturer and the design consultant
Product Descriptions are a standardized means of organizing all of the relevant product properties and performance data in a consistent manner, greating increasing the specifier's product research efficiency. The format for Product Descriptions are spelled out in the CSC Standard called ProductFORMAT.
Once a project is completed, Product Descriptions can be used by property management until demolition of the structure.
The major difference between 3-Part Specifications and Product Descriptions is that the Specification is designed to be edited to reflect the minimum requirements for a product, whereas the Product Description summarizes all available data about a product.
MasterFormat is a standard for organizing specifications and other project information for North American building projects. It provides a master list of titles and section numbers for organizing data about construction requirements, products, and activities. MasterFormat was first introduced in 1975 to address the expansion of the construction products and materials industry. Although the classification standard originally used 16 major divisions, in 2004 it was updated to reflect continual growth and innovation and now includes 50 major divisions.
MasterFormat is predominantly used in specifications, which is how specifiers will search for products (although not all product decisions are made by specifiers, most are). Some of the main benefits of the standard is that it enables the entire project team to store, retrieve, assess, and share essential information in a common filing system.
UniFormat is predominantly used to organize information early in a project when detailed product decisions have not yet been made, and also most closely resembles the organization of building model (BIM) information. This helps make direct relations between a product and where it is used in the building.
UniFormat is a complementary standard to MasterFormat for classifying project documentation in North America. It organizes construction information based on the building’s major systems and assemblies (functional elements). Information includes preliminary project descriptions, performance specifications, facility management, cost estimating and analysis, drawing details, BIM objects, and construction market data.
Within the EcoSpex system we have adopted UniFormat in sections in the navigation system (structure, shell, interiors etc.) homepage to allow our end-users access to critical information on Sustainable Construction Tips as a resource (example of how to access Sustainable Construction Tips on EcoSpex below).
Additionally, you can also find specific products through the UniFormat organization.
What is the difference?
Why? Both systems are useful for different purposes; Ecospex was designed to support BOTH.
MasterFormat was developed first and is designed to capture information on detailed construction documents, such as construction plans and product specifications. UniFormat was developed subsequently to capture an expanded set of important project-related documents. Each system classified information in a different way: MasterFormat by work results; UniFormat by functional elements. The two systems work in a complementary fashion to facilitate effective documentation management.
For more information on specifications, click here.
MasterFormat and UniFormat are trademarks of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC).