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CSI Spec Writing Training, Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Specifications Writing

CSI is a national association of more than 8,000 professionals. CSI members are experts in building construction and the materials used therein and are dedicated to improving the communication of construction information.

CSI specifications serve several purposes:

  • Specs make sure the client gets the product or service required
  • Specs are a means of equating expenditure with a budget
  • Specs specify to the contracting party precisely what is wanted.

All other objectives are subordinate to these three because they are the basis of all engineering and scientific contracts.

Technical specifications must be written with care. Conversely, badly-written specifications cost time, money and effort. The preparation of specifications is the first and most important step in any contract negotiation. Without them, cost studies, estimates, schedules and contract responsibilities are difficult to define. Well-written specifications must:

  • Avoid contractual commercial difficulties
  • Meet performance objectives
  • Avoid maintenance problems
  • Meet budget objectives

CSI Spec Writing Training Course Specifics

CSI Spec Writing Training is a 3-day course covering all aspects of Contract Specifications and Construction Specifications Institute Master Format.

This must-attend CSI specifications writing course teaches participants the tools to  investigate and identify cost-effective, efficient solutions, and then communicate those solutions through the planned specifications.

The course provides key topics and knowledge of construction specifications. It also helps participants to obtain knowledge, skills, methods and tricks and provide guidelines on how to plan, read, write and understand the CSI–MasterFormat® with its older and new versions.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants will:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of agreements, conditions of the contract, Division 01 and their relationships to specifications
  • Learn knowledge and advanced skills in specification development and writing enabling participants to use spec-writing more effectively
  • Learn how to research and source products
  • Identify problems and errors in specifications proactively
  • Suggest recommendations to enhance the specification to be more clear, concise, complete, unambiguous and complete
  • Identify strategies for correcting unclear procurement
  • Compare and contrast CSI related RFI, RFQ, RFP, IFB and Design Build
  • Describe differences between function and performance-oriented versus design-oriented CSI specifications
  • Learn how to best unscramble a poor CSI request for Information (RFI), Request for Proposal (RFP), IFB or Design-Build
  • Develop skills to write better CSI specifications
  • Learn how to best deal with excessive explanation and vague requirements
  • How to apply grammar, simple sentence structure, and correct punctuation to improve your specification writing capabilities

Who Should Attend

  • Electrical Engineers
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Structural Engineers
  • Construction Engineers
  • Architects
  • Project Managers
  • Designers
  • Procurement
  • Manufacturing and material production

Course Agenda

Introduction to Specifications Writing

  • Tools and techniques for structuring specifications
  • Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)
  • Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) (In Canada)
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • CSI family of generic specifications
  • The CSI format three main sections
  • General requirements
  • SOW, “scope of work,” related sections
  • Measurement and payment, records and submittals
  • Products and materials to be used in the work
  • Execution of the work

The Advantages of CSI Format

  • Style of the CSI specifications
  • Easy to scan and consistent sections and divisions
  • Styles
  • Command Sentences
  • Verbs
  • Useful Phrases
  • Confusing and Unnecessary Phrases
  • Prescriptive versus Objective
  • Prescriptive Example
  • Objective Example
  • Tying the Specifications to the Bid
  • Drawings, Tables and Forms
  • CSI best practices and specification organization
  • CSI Contract Requirements and Specification Writing Styles
  • CSI Management of the Requirements
  • CSI Formats and Styles
  • CSI Drawings, Forms and Standards in the Specifications

CSI Specifications Writing Process

  • Creating Effective CSI Procedures for Writing and Controlling
  • Roles and responsibilities of the key players
  • Scope of the CSI specification
  • Statement of Requirements
  • CSI Design and performance criteria
  • CSI Functional characteristics
  • CSI Performance characteristics
  • CSI Technical characteristics
  • CSI Reporting requirements

The Role of Specifications in the Construction Process

  • Construction Specifications
  • Types of Specifications
  • The CSI Project Approach to Specifications
  • Poorly written specifications
  • Competition, purchasing an inappropriate commodity
  • Protests, contract disputes and cost overruns
  • Problem statements within a specification
  • Builds to problem specifications and culminates with strategies to approach specifications for unclear and difficult procurements

Challenges in Writing CSI Related Specifications

  • Specifications Writing Techniques
  • Develop the objectives of specification writing
  • Data requirements in Specifications
  • Descriptive specifications
  • Performance specifications
  • Reference standard
  • Scoping and defining needs
  • Assessing the audience
  • Writing Technically
  • Methods of specifications writing development
  • A common framework for producing timely, error-free specifications
  • Technical Writing Challenges
  • Wording of Specifications
  • Editing and Controlling the Specifications
  • Drafting Conventions
  • In Class Activity

The New CSI MasterFormat

  • Bidding Requirements
  • General Conditions
  • General Requirements
  • Architectural versus Engineering Specifications
  • Common Issues in Specification Preparation

Product Selection versus Specification Writing

  • Performance versus Proprietary Specifications
  • Reference Standards and Association Standards
  • Complete, Clear, Concise Correct and Unambiguous Language
  • Enhancing Specification Writing
  • Specification Checklists
  • Master Specification Systems


  • Teams will study a simple CSI specification for feedback and discussion
  • Workshops will focus on CSI Specification Writing Best Practices and Critical Communication
  • Planning: know your audience
  • Clarity: avoid Jargon and define the unfamiliar
  • Brevity: use words efficiently, less is more, most important first, remove redundancy
  • Simplicity: use details wisely
  • Word Choice: needless complexity and ambiguity
  • Active Voice: strong verbs and natural sound
  • Committing to Writing as a Process

Tonex Best Practice Guidelines and Tools for CSI Divisions (Road maps)

The CSI Best Practice Guidelines are a set of comprehensive guidelines and references  prepared for the participants:

  • Important concepts and best practices integral to a particular aspect of the building process are discussed.
  • Roles and responsibilities of the specifications professional
  • Writing quality construction specifications and product selection
  • Best practices for managing project information, working with Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery
  • Writing sustainable design specifications

Division 1        General Requirements

01100              Summary

01200              Price and Payment Procedures

01300              Administrative Requirements

01400              Quality Requirements

01500              Temporary Facilities and Controls

01600              Product Requirements

01700              Execution Requirements

01800              Facility Operation

01900              Facility Decommissioning

Division 2        Site Construction

02050              Basic Site Materials and Methods

02100              Site Remediation

02200              Site Preparation

02300              Earthwork

02400              Tunneling, Boring and Jacking

02450              Foundation and Load-Bearing Elements

02500              Utility Services

02600              Drainage and Containment

02700              Bases, Ballasts, Pavements and Appurtenances

02800              Site Improvements and Amenities

02900              Planting

02950              Site Restoration and Rehabilitation

Division 3        Concrete

03050              Basic Concrete Materials and Methods

03100              Concrete Forms and Accessories

03200              Concrete Reinforcement

03300              Cast-In-Place Concrete

03400              Precast Concrete

03500              Cementitious Decks and Underlayment

03600              Grouts

03700              Mass Concrete

03900              Concrete Restoration and Cleaning

Division 4        Masonry

04050              Basic Masonry Materials and Methods

04200              Masonry Units

04400              Stone

04500              Refractories

04600              Corrosion-Resistant Masonry

04700              Simulated Masonry

04800              Masonry Assemblies

04900              Masonry Restoration and Cleaning

Division 5        Metals

05050              Basic Metal Materials and Methods

05100              Structural Metal Framing

05200              Metal Joists

05300              Metal Deck

05400              Cold-Formed Metal Framing

05500              Metal Fabrications

05600              Hydraulic Fabrications

05700              Ornamental Metal

05800              Expansion Control

05900              Metal Restoration and Cleaning

Division 6        Wood and Plastics

06050              Basic Wood and Plastic Materials and Methods

06100              Rough Carpentry

06200              Finish Carpentry

06400              Architectural Woodwork

06500              Structural Plastics

06600              Plastic Fabrications

06900              Wood and Plastic Restoration and Cleaning

Division 7        Thermal and Moisture Protection

07050              Basic Thermal and Moisture Protection Materials and Methods

07100              Dam proofing and Waterproofing

07200              Thermal Protection

07300              Shingles, Roof Tiles and Roof Coverings

07400              Roofing and Siding Panels

07500              Membrane Roofing

07600              Flashing and Sheet Metal

07700              Roof Specialties and Accessories

07800              Fire and Smoke Protection

07900              Joint Sealers

Division 8        Doors and Windows

08050              Basic Door and Window Materials and Methods

08100              Metal Doors and Frames

08200              Wood and Plastic Doors

08300              Specialty Doors

08400              Entrances and Storefronts

08500              Windows

08600              Skylights

08700              Hardware

08800              Glazing

08900              Glazed Curtain Wall

Division 9        Finishes

09050              Basic Finish Materials and Methods

09100              Metal Support Assemblies

09200              Plaster and Gypsum Board

09300              Tile

09400              Terrazzo

09500              Ceilings

09600              Flooring

09700              Wall Finishes

09800              Acoustical Treatment

09900              Paints and Coatings

Division 10      Specialties

10100              Visual Display Boards

10150              Compartments and Cubicles

10200              Louvers and Vents

10240              Grilles and Screens

10250              Service Walls

10260              Wall and Corner Guards

10270              Access Flooring

10290              Pest Control

10300              Fireplaces and Stoves

10340              Manufactured Exterior Specialties

10350              Flagpoles

10400              Identification Devices

10450              Pedestrian Control Devices

10500              Lockers

10520              Fire Protection Specialties

10530              Protective Covers

10550              Postal Specialties

10600              Partitions

10670              Storage Shelving

10700              Exterior Protection

10750              Telephone Specialties

10800              Toilet, Bath and Laundry Specialties

10880              Scales

10900              Wardrobe and Closet Specialties

Division 11      Equipment

11010              Maintenance Equipment

11020              Security and Vault Equipment

11030              Teller and Service Equipment

11040              Ecclesiastical Equipment

11050              Library Equipment

11060              Theater and Stage Equipment

11070              Instrumental Equipment

11080              Registration Equipment

11090              Checkroom Equipment

11100              Mercantile Equipment

11110              Commercial Laundry and Dry Cleaning Equipment

11120              Vending Equipment

11130              Audio-Visual Equipment

11140              Vehicle Service Equipment

11150              Parking Control Equipment

11160              Loading Dock Equipment

11170              Solid Waste Handling Equipment

11190              Detention Equipment

11200              Water Supply and Treatment Equipment

11280              Hydraulic Gates and Valves

11300              Fluid Waste Treatment and Disposal Equipment

11400              Food Service Equipment

11450              Residential Equipment

11460              Unit Kitchens

11470              Darkroom Equipment

11480              Athletic, Recreational and Therapeutic Equipment

11500              Industrial and Process Equipment

11600              Laboratory Equipment

11650              Planetarium Equipment

11660              Observatory Equipment

11680              Office Equipment

11700              Medical Equipment

11780              Mortuary Equipment

11850              Navigation Equipment

11870              Agricultural Equipment

11900              Exhibit Equipment

Division 12      Furnishings

12050              Fabrics

12100              Art

12300              Manufactured Casework

12400              Furnishings and Accessories

12500              Furniture

12600              Multiple Seating

12700              Systems Furniture

12800              Interior Plants and Planters

12900              Furnishings Restoration and Repair

Division 13      Special Construction

13010              Air-Supported Structures

13020              Building Modules

13030              Special Purpose Rooms

13080              Sound, Vibration and Seismic Control

13090              Radiation Protection

13100              Lightning Protection

13110              Cathodic Protection

13120              Pre-Engineered Structures

13150              Swimming Pools

13160              Aquariums

13165              Aquatic Park Facilities

13170              Tubs and Pools

13175              Ice Rinks

13185              Kennels and Animal Shelters

13190              Site-Constructed Incinerators

13200              Storage Tanks

13220              Filter Underdrains and Media

13230              Digester Covers and Appurtenances

13240              Oxygenation Systems

13260              Sludge Conditioning Systems

13280              Hazardous Material Remediation

13400              Measurement and Control Instrumentation

13500              Recording Instrumentation

13550              Transportation Control Instrumentation

13600              Solar and Wind Energy Equipment

13700              Security Access and Surveillance

13800              Building Automation and Control

13850              Detection and Alarm

13900              Fire Suppression

Division 14      Conveying Systems

14100              Dumbwaiters

14200              Elevators

14300              Escalators and Moving Walks

14400              Lifts

14500              Material Handling

14600              Hoists and Cables

14700              Turntables

14800              Scaffolding

14900              Transportation

Division 15     Mechanical

15050              Basic Mechanical Materials and Methods

15100              Building Service Piping

15200              Process Piping

15300              Fire Protection Piping

15400              Plumbing Fixtures and Equipment

15500              Heat-Generation Equipment

15600              Refrigeration Equipment

15700              Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Equipment

15800              Air Distribution

15900              HVAC Instrumentation and Controls

15950              Testing, Adjusting and Balancing

Division 16      Electrical

16050              Basic Electrical Materials and Methods

16100              Wiring Methods

16200              Electrical Power

16300              Transmission and Distribution

16400              Low-Voltage Distribution

16500              Lighting

16700              Communications

16800              Sound and Video

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