Weak in Faith, part 4 - Specifiers vs. Themselves

by Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA

use of these the  rules in the MOP should result in shorter, simpler specifications, and reduce the possibility of conflicting requirements

part 1:  master guide specs vs. the MOP

part 2: specifiers vs. master guide specs

part 3: specifiers vs. the MOP

 part 4: specifiers vs. themselves


Incorporating any document by reference, be it an ASTM, a building code, or manufacturer's instructions, makes the incorporated document part of the contract, just as enforceable as if the information it contains were written out in the specifications. Similarly, Division 1 provisions need not be repeated in other sections to be enforceable.

According to the MOP, this means that none of the contents of the referenced document should be repeated in the specifications. To do otherwise is to be redundant, introducing the possibility - no, the probability - that there will be conflicts.

Proper use of these simple rules should result in shorter, simpler specifications, and reduce the possibility of conflicting requirements. For example:

  • defining general requirements for delivering, storing, and handling products can eliminate most of the "Delivery, Storage, and Handling" article.

  • using reference standards for masonry construction obviates the need to specify special requirements for installation in cold or hot weather.

  • explaining installation requirements in Division 1 makes it unnecessary to specify "Install according to manufacturer's instructions" in every section.

Of course, improper use of these rules can produce unacceptable results. For example:

  • specifying compliance with reference standards without knowing what they say can allow use of a wide variety of products when only one is right for the job.

  • assuming that everything is covered in Division 1 may mean that unique storage requirements are forgotten.

  • relying entirely on manufacturer's instructions is fine for most installations, but custom design or performance requirements - exceptions to those instructions - need to be explained for the contractor.

As noted in previous columns in this series, there is plenty of blame to go around. Producers of master guide specifications continue to write as if there is no Division 1, continually making unnecessary references to it, and then ignoring what is there by frequent repetition of Division 1 requirements. Specifiers casually incorporate reference standards without knowing what they say, then repeat requirements of those standards or fail to select options within those standards. And manufacturers and contractors, who know their work better than anyone else, do little to point out discrepancies during bidding.

The most important standards for preparing specifications - CSI's Manual of Practice and MasterFormat - have been accepted by the construction industry. Isn't it time we stopped paying lip service and started using them?

2000 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, polaris@fishet.com
on the web at www.CSI-MSP.org 

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