What is the CSI MasterFormat Outline? Construction Project and Docs

MasterFormat is used to Organize Construction Specs and Project Information

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What is the MasterFormat in Construction?

MasterFormat is the universal method of organizing project manuals and documents under categories using standardized guidelines to relate drawings to specs. MasterFormat is a publication of CSI, Construction Specification Institute, divided by titles and number used to organize specs and project information for almost every commercial, industrial and residential project in the world.

The established guidelines help on getting a systematic and industry-wide standard applicable to almost all construction documents, contracts and drawings.

Advantages of Using the Construction Specification Institute MasterFormat Outline

The CSI MasterFormat is divided into sections and numbers that will help you organize construction requirements, products, specifications and activities by groups or trades. One of the most important benefits of using the CSI MasterFormat outline is that communication will be improved between project group as all team members can refer to specific sections of the document using that same outline. It will reduce and facilitate coordination and communication between project owner, architects, contractors and suppliers, minimizing the time spent organizing document using other methods. The guideline provided will also help contractors and architects working on additions and for future projects.

The MasterFormat is also being used by BIM systems maintaining the same or similar outline, making it easier the overlap between different building technologies.

When to Use the CSI MasterFormat in Construction Projects

The CSI MasterFormat is used in schools, industrial, hospitals, green buildings, residential and even transportation projects.

When a construction project involves more than one trade, so almost all projects, you might find useful using the format, as it will facilitate the communication between the project team. Divided by disciplines and with many subdivisions for each discipline, the MasterFormat outline will help you develop and organized information needed for your construction project, making it easier for every team member to look up information or use them as a reference during the construction process. The MasterFormat document can be used to organize the following project documents:

  • Specifications or Project Manuals
  • Drawings (Keynotes)
  • Product literature/data filing
  • Facility management/maintenance documents
  • Project integration and communication
  • Detailed cost estimating/project accounting
  • Building Information Model

MasterFormat Groups, SubGroups and Divisions

The subgroups and list get reviewed from time to time, so make sure to always verify the most recent version. Per the latest document released by CSI, division and groups are arranged

  • Procurement and Contracting Requirements: Division 00
  • General Requirements Subgroup: Division 01
  • Facility Construction Subgroup: Divisions 02 - 19

                      02 Existing Conditions

                      03 Concrete

                      04 Masonry

                      05 Metals

                      06 Wood, Plastics, and Composites

                      07 Thermal and Moisture Protection

                      08 Openings

                      09 Finishes

                      10 Specialties

                      11 Equipment

                      12 Furnishings

                      13 Special Construction

                      14 Conveying Equipment

                      15-19 Reserved

  • Facility Services Subgroup: Divisions 20 - 29

                      20 Reserved

                      21 Fire Suppression

                      22 Plumbing

                      23 Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

                      24 Reserved

                      25 Integrated Automation

                      26 Electrical

                      27 Communications

                      28 Electronic Safety and Security

                      29 Reserved

  • Site and Infrastructure Subgroup: Divisions 30 - 39

                      30 Reserved

                      31 Earthwork

                      32 Exterior Improvements

                      33 Utilities

                      34 Transportation

                      35 Waterway and Marine Construction

                      36-39 Reserved

  • Process Equipment Subgroup: Divisions 40 - 49

                      40 Process Integration

                      41 Material Processing and Handling Equipment

                      42 Process Heating, Cooling, and Drying Equipment

                      43 Process Gas and Liquid Handling, Purification, and Storage 

                      44 Pollution and Waste Control Equipment

                      45 Industry-Specific Manufacturing Equipment

                      46 Water and Wastewater Equipment 

                      47 Reserved

                      48 Electrical Power Generation

                      49 Reserved

A new six-digit section numbering system replaces the five-digit format for the sections within the divisions.  The new system creates room for adding many additional sections as needed.  All of this restructuring has given MasterFormat the capacity to be easily managed over time, allowing it to evolve based on user demand instead of being changed dramatically every five to seven years as happened in the past. Consult http://www.masterformat.com/revisions/ for the most current additions and changes to MasterFormat.