Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I like MASTERFORMAT 2004, Numero Uno

Anecdotal reports, along with conversations in CSI gatherings seem to indicate that many architects, engineers and specifiers are lingering with the old, no-longer-supported-by-CSI, 16-division MASTERFORMAT 1995, instead of using the new (actually five years old now) 50-division MASTERFORMAT 2004.

I suppose old habits are hard to change, especially given the near-geriatric profile of CSI’s membership.  Full disclosure:  I’m getting close to this demographic myself, but I have enthusiastically embraced the use of MASTERFORMAT 2004.  I’d support MF04 anyway, just because it’s the product of the volunteer-driven consensus standard process that’s at the heart of professionalism and good professional societies. 

But here’s another reason:  It’s easier to produce HVAC, plumbing and fire protection specs with MF04 than with MF95.

Remember the interminable tussles between plumbing engineers, fire protection engineers, and HVAC engineers over the content of the so-called common requirements of the old Division 15 – Mechanical?

The various engineers could never seem to agree on what valves to include, or what insulation to include, or what pipe sizes and types to include, or what to say about painting or concrete equipment bases, or what to say about firestopping penetrations.  And on and on…

Division 15 could never be wrapped up until all three disciplines had edited the common spec sections. 

These problems were exacerbated when one or more of these engineering disciplines was contracted to an outside firm or firms.  The situation was almost hard-wired to create gaps and/or overlaps in bidding and contract documents, resulting in addendum items and change orders.

In contrast, MF 04 gives each of the three engineering disciplines their own Division, 21 for Fire Protection, 22 for Plumbing, and 23 for HVAC.  Each of these Divisions is self-contained, intended to include all of the components necessary to bid and build that work.

Thus MF 04 makes it easier for each of the three engineering disciplines to wrap up their specs.  Yes, it’s true that this means at least some redundant text in each of the three divisions, but I think it’s a small price to pay.

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