Now, Where Are Those Sitework Spec Sections?

One story, two lessons!  Recently, I was the specifications consultant on an all-new school building, which was built on a piece of previously-undeveloped land.

The general contractor and owner had a negotiated Construction Manager as Constructor1 Agreement, including preconstruction services, and the general contractor had been involved with the project for months by the time the documents went out to bid

A few days after the documents went out to bid, I received an email from the contractor (via the project architect) that said something like, “There are no Division 2 specifications in the spec book.  When will those be issued?”

Division 2, in MasterFormat 2004, is “Existing Conditions,” and usually mainly covers demolition of existing structures.  (We had no demo on this project.)  In MasterFormat 1995, Division 2 was “Site Construction.”  Sitework spec sections are what the contractor was looking for.

Sure, some people are still unfamiliar with MasterFormat 2004.  However…

For this project, we’d had site construction specification sections in Divisions 31, 32, and 33 for months, since the Design Development issue.  The Table of Contents at Design Development, and of course, the Table of Contents in the documents that were being bid on, clearly indicated that sitework was in Divisions 31, 32, and 33.

Since the general contractor had an agreement with the owner for preconstruction services, and had been providing preliminary budget pricing, these Construction Documents weren’t the first time the contractor had seen the Project Manual.  I’d expect even people unfamiliar with MasterFormat 2004 to have noticed where sitework sections were, since they had been working on the project for months. 

But, even if they hadn’t been paying attention for all those months, all they needed to do was to look at the Project Manual Table of Contents.

If the sitework subs, or the general contractor, or the project architect had just looked at the Table of Contents in the Project Manual, this embarrassing question would have never made its way to the specifications consultant.

Two lessons:

First, sitework spec sections are now in Divisions 31, 32, and 33.  They are no longer in Division 2, unless you’re using the now-outdated CSI MasterFormat 1995.

Second, if everyone would just read the info they have already been given, before asking questions, we’d have fewer regrettable questions.



  1. Construction Manager as Constructor is called CMGC (Construction Manager / General Contractor) around here (Denver), GCCM (General Contractor / Construction Manager) some other places, and CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) in other places.


2 thoughts on “Now, Where Are Those Sitework Spec Sections?

  1. You’re not alone, Liz. I get the same question occasionally.

    The situation seems to be exacerbated when I have to do a two-volume Project Manual. Then Divisions 31-33 occur in Volume 2 along with the MEP specs. GC’s complain that the sitework is somehow “out of order” and lament about the good old days when sitework was in Division 2. The “Work Results” logic of MasterFormat 04 seems to have gone over their heads.

    The “Where’s the sitework spec” question also comes up when a site/civil consultant decides not to put a spec in the Project Manual and instead expands his sitework drawing general notes into sort of a spec, usually referring to Illinois Department of Transportation specs.

  2. I’ve just started a project, luckily still in schematic design, on which both the landscape architect and the civil engineer have sent their tables of contents to me in the old 16-division format. So it’s not just contractors who cling to site work in Division 2!

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