Why should the Masterformat interest me?

ASRA has a long standing commitment to the application of National and International Standards to our client and project deliverables. Standards issuing organizations, such as ANSI, ISO, HFS, and the CSI have spent considerable time and resources in the development of "best practices" that are specifically developed for the security industry and applicable to security industry needs. As an end user, you should be interested in the application of a uniform set of standards to your requirements, as these will provide multiple benefits including uniform documentation and procurement, provide for standardised life cycle management and provide comprehensive project management disciplines and cost controls. As internationally recognized systems designers, ASRA team members make frequent contributions to the Standards steering committees including the SIA and ASIS working groups on Security Engineering. One of the Standards tools used by ASRA are the MasterFormat guidelines; read on!

What is CSI?

CSI is the Construction Specifications Institute. The CSI is an association of 17,000 individual members in the non-residential building design and construction industry.  They include specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, and building owners. The CSI's mission is " "To advance the process of creating and sustaining the built environment for the benefit of the construction community by using the diversity of its members to exchange knowledge." One of the goals is to foster clear communication among all the stakeholders on the project team.  The communications channels are focused on the written construction documents - how they're written and how their content is organized.

What is the MasterFormat TM , SectionFormat TM ,PageFormat TM , and UniFormat TM?

One of the documents that the CSI produces jointly with Construction Specifications Canada   (CSC) is the MasterFormat TM .

The MasterFormat(TM) , CSI's flagship publication, is a master list of numbers and titles for organizing information about construction requirements, products and activities into a standard sequence. The MasterFormat TM was introduced in 1963 and the current edition is the 1995 edition. The CSI is presently undergoing major revisions that are scheduled for release in late 2004.

MasterFormat(TM) is the U.S. and Canada's most widely used system for categorizing and presenting cost data, construction product information, drawings identification, market data, project manuals (and the specifications they contain), and other construction documents.  It's a core component of the MOP (see above).

SectionFormat(TM) is a system for organizing the specifications in each section of a project manual.

PageFormat(TM) is a system for arranging specifications on each page of a project manual.

UniFormat(TM) is used by architects and specifiers when they create preliminary descriptions of buildings before specific construction materials and methods have been determined.  They use the UniFormat system for classifying and presenting written information about a building's general elements and systems.

What's a Division?

It has nothing to do with 10,000 soldiers! Simply put, a Construction Division is a grouping of similar tasks that are executed by a trades specialty such as Masonry (Division 4) or Electrical (Division 16). During the long planning phases for the 2004 revisions to MasterFormat, there has been much discussion about the creation of a new Division, to be named Division 17, to include the new technologies related to IT networks, specialty data cabling, racking, communications rooms and similar requirements. Now, it appears that decisions have been taken to distribute the proposed Division 17 requirements back into the existing MasterFormat Divisions 1-16 therefore we will not have to deal with a "new" Division.  

The MasterFormat TM presently consists of the following:

  • Front End - Intro, Bid Forms, Conditions, Etc.
  • Division 1 - General Requirements
  • Division 2 - Site Construction
  • Division 3 - Concrete
  • Division 4 - Masonry
  • Division 5 - Metals
  • Division 6 - Woods and Plastics
  • Division 7 - Thermal and Moisture Protection
  • Division 8 - Doors and Windows
  • Division 9 - Finishes
  • Division 10 - Specialties
  • Division 11 - Equipment
  • Division 12 - Furnishings
  • Division 13 - Special Construction
  • Division 14 - Conveying Systems
  • Division 15 - Mechanical
  • Division 16 - Electrical

What is a Performance Specification?

A performance specification is a document that specifies the minimum quality requirements for how a product shall be manufactured, delivered and installed.

The CSI SectionFormat TM and PageFormat TM provide standard formats for organizing the sections and individual pages of a specification. The CSI 3 Part format is an industry standard format for organizing specifications. Each section is organized in three parts:

  • PART 1 - GENERAL (administrative)
  • PART 2 - PRODUCTS (materials)
  • PART 3 - EXECUTION (installation)

Here is a sample Specification:

SECTION 13072 - Blast-Resistant Construction



Provide all labor, materials, tools, and equipment required for the complete installation of work called for in the Contract Documents


  • Blast Resistant Assemblies
  • Blast Resistant Assemblies shall meet the following physical specifications:
  • 1 meter of rack mounting space
  • 3.5 meters high
  • Corrosion proofing: Hot dip galvanized zinc compliant to ASTM Standard 111
  • Finish shall be paint type X and colour code X or as otherwise directed on site by the Project Manager


  • Delivery
  • Deliver and Store materials in the designated area
  • As work progresses, remove and dispose of all debris and packaging materials. Place materials in containers designated for this purpose and located on site.
  • Blast Resistant Assemblies
  • All Blast Resistant Assemblies shall be anchored to the floor utilizing epoxy set anchors compliant to ASTM Standard 111
  • Attach Blast Resistant Assembly mounting rail to the concrete slab provided by Division 3 as indicated on Drawing X-012
  • Paint all surfaces with a primer and two finish coats or as otherwise directed on site by the Project Manager. Allow a minimum of 24 hours between the application of finish coats

How are drawings used during the construction and operation of a building?

CSI Provides a tool known as The Uniform Drawing System (UDS) . It is a multi-module standardizing tool for organizing and presenting construction drawings.  The UDS is a key component of The National CAD (Computer Assisted Drawings) Standard. Standards bodies such as the Security Industry Association (SIA) also are developing a standards based approach to security drawings. The SIA has developed a set of Architectural Security Graphics Standards for use within CAD drawings. The use of these graphics allows the implementation of a Standards based approach to CAD design for Security design work. ASRA is a leader in the Security Industry in implementing these graphics as a Standard.

Contractors, Installers and Integrators must learn to interpret and work from CAD Drawings and Performance Specifications based on the the existing CSI MasterFormat, SectionFormat and PageFormat documents. Additionally, Security contractors must learn to work in conjunction with the other trades (Divisions) on a job site and become familiar with and use standard construction management documents such as those in the CSI - Manual of Practice (MOP).

As construction progresses, Contractors create "marked-up" drawings that include the specific site details and record any changes that have occurred as the construction marches ahead to completion. One construction is complete, the Contractor uses these marked up drawings to create a final set of "as-built" drawings that are incorporated into the operating manuals for the facility. Thus, any service provider that comes after the Contractor will be able to interpret the locations, methods and installation details that were applied to the Project. The service provider will have a clear understanding of the facility systems and integration applied by the previous Contractor(s).

What the relationship is between drawings and specifications?

In Canada, Specifications generally take precedence over Drawings. The Drawings are intended to assist the Contractor in decoding the designers' project intent and requirements as written into the Specifications. The Drawings are a tool to show the general layout details, installation specifics and other illustrations necessary for the Contractor to locate the placement and installation of Security devices and cabling within the facility floor plan. Finally, as-built Drawings are necessary to show the specific details of installations as they were actually installed on site.


National Research Council of Canada: The ASRA engagement for this major project includes complete analysis, recommendations and design services for the complete security infrastructure, including cooperative design efforts with the Architect and the University of Alberta Facility Management teams.

Are your security measures adequate?

Contact ASRA via email; info@asrasecurity.com, or phone; 416-548-4193 to discuss your security requirements.