Improved Security And Surveillance Bidding - 2018 MasterFormat Divisions Examined)

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 19, 2018

Navigating the world of system specifications and bidding work can be complex and confusing, but a standard format exists, and understanding it greatly helps integrators respond and win bids.

We purchased the 2018 version of CSI's MasterFormat, the most commonly referenced system of dividing up construction work into bid sections and checked up on changes that impact security vendors.

Inside, we explain different divisions (including Div 08, 26, 27 and 28), identify which ones are typically used to classify security systems, and which versions are current.

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How **** ********* *** *****?

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Comments (12)

Related, the 2016 edition of MasterFormat paid special attention to Div 28, logically reformatting the division to better represent modern security system designs (ie: IP networked) and to otherwise segment video surveillance, access control, and intrusion into distinct systems.

This is a good step that allows better designs by security vendors, rather than rewarding specmanship efforts that commonly plague the process.

Thank you Brian Rhodes!

We do 75% bid work and you are right about CSI creating these divisions and it helping move the Industry to the forefront with the general contractors. This has opened the door for several opportunities that otherwise might not have been on our radar.

Security being in Div. 28 first started in CSI Masterformat 2004. Prior to that, it was in Div. 13, Section 13700 - Security Access and Surveillance. If I remember correctly, Section 13850 - Detection and Alarm, included both fire and burglar alarm systems.

For my company's purposes, since we deal primarily with new construction, the advantage when they went to CSI Masterformat 2004 was the addition of Section 28 05 00 - Common Work Results for Electronic Safety and Security (and it's associated subsections), as this gave us a more well defined place to specify infrastructure such as back boxes, conduit and cabling. Did you see any advantage in addition to that when it changed from being in Div. 13 to Div. 28?

Great article, but people should keep in mind that regardless of which specification section numbers are used or how the work is separated in the specs, it is almost always up to the general contractor (GC) to decide who gets which parts of the project. Because the GC is technically held responsible for every aspect of the project, he is given wide latitude by the Owner in how he portions out the work and who he hires to do it.

Despite how the sections are numbered, there is always an inclination for the GC to award everything that is "electrical" to the electrical contractor (EC) and let the EC decide what, if any, portions that he wants to sub out to specialty contractors (security, surveillance, network, fire alarm, etc.). GC's like to deal with as few subs as possible and awarding all work (including Division 28) to the EC greatly simplifies the GC's life.

This is insightful. It seems to me that construction management firms tend to be less collusive that general contractors. Is that a difference others see too?

Michael is dead on from my experience. Breaking out the CSI Mastercodes had little effect other than making it easier to minimize the easter egg hunt for the relevant spec sections. They were all just rolled up into a larger bid package.

There is a certain large EC in my area who rolls up everything in 16/27/28 and subs the low-voltage parts out to the cheapest, crappiest guys around, over and over again.

True

Good story for those unfamiliar with the MasterFormat. SIA's working group led by Ray Coloumbe did a great job working with CSI to update Division 28.

Just to be clear when comparing versions back to 1995, Div 28 has existed since Masterformat 2004. As a side note, AV has become increasingly cumbersome for one section. AV is by far our longest spec (in terms of pages and words), and imho is getting due for a breakdown into its own Division.

Umm... Div 28 has existed since Masterformat 2004...

Yes, that is why the post says:

The most recent version of Masterformat deepens, expands, and overhauls prior 'Division 28' structures

I bought a copy of the Master Format book to ensure that our product offering follows guidelines for specifications. I appreciate the uniformity of the standard - easy to understand, read and follow. I so wish more governmental entities would subscribe to this format and apply it consistently. I've read some fairly abhorrent specifications that don't know what they want and end up getting a pitiful end-product. I agree with Michael, however, that most GCs hate the headache of managing multiple subs so they stick with their one EC and award all the work to them - and also leave it up to them to implement the spec as written (including managing their subs). Nonetheless, as an employee of a manufacturer, there is nothing more appealing that a stable standard to populate with product - not some A&E specification heavy on fluff and light on substance.

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