Archive for November, 2015

It never ceases to amaze me how many construction proposals contain the very short specification “to code”.  What amazes me even more is that there are actually consumers who believe this statement or some variation thereon assures them of a quality project.

Wake up folks!  The building code is the crummiest construction that is legal.

So you ask: “How can I get better than the worst that’s legal?”

Better quality construction starts with better construction documents.  Good construction documents are usually produced by a licensed design professional.  For certain occupancies, a licensed design professional is required to seal and sign the construction documents before a construction permit can be issued by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).  In such cases, simply having the seal of a licensed professional on the drawings is in the same category of “built to code”.

Better quality construction documents often involve the services of a Certified Construction Specifier (CCS).  The CCS is a certification issued by the Construction Specifications Institute more commonly known as CSI.  Holders of the CCS are required to have a minimum of five years’ experience preparing construction documents and at least two years of writing construction specifications.  In addition, a CCS will have passed a rigorous exam to receive the certification.

Unofficially, a CCS is an experienced professional with a vast body of technical knowledge.  As a member of the building team, the specifier will often prompt the other members of the design team to think about issues such as constructability, compatibility of materials, water-tightness, and similar issues.

Once a project is documented, it will need to be constructed by a qualified contractor.  One characteristic to look for in the course of selecting a contractor is whether or not he/she has a CDT on staff.  A CDT knows his/her way around a set of construction documents.  They understand the information presented and know where to look for certain information within the set of documents.  Additionally, a CDT has a basic understanding of the relationships called for in a set of construction contract documents.

With this in mind, when shopping for construction services, hire someone who holds a CSI issued certificate or a CSI certified professional.


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Did you ever spend time pondering facility life cycles?  Do you know who is on a typical construction project team?  Do you know which construction documents are contract documents?  Did you ever wonder how projects get built?  Do any of these questions keep you up at night?

If you are a member of the AEC industry and don’t know the correct answers to these questions, they should keep you up at night.  If you are employed in the AEC industry, you should be a member of CSI, and you should hold the CDT.  CSI is the one place where all members of the project team can sit down together as equals and discuss matters of mutual concern.  The Mission of CSI is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.

The CDT is the entry level credential offered by CSI.  According to the CSI website,  “the CDT Program provides a comprehensive overview for anyone who writes, interprets, enforces, or manages construction documents. Project architects, contractors, contract administrators, material suppliers, and manufacturers’ representatives are all realizing the advantages of being Construction Documents Technologists”.  “By being able to understand and interpret written construction documents, CDTs perform their jobs more effectively. By understanding the roles and relationships of all participants, CDTs improve communication among all members of the construction team”.  The credential is beneficial for architects and engineers, construction administration staff, construction product representatives, constructors, and professionals in other construction occupations.

The CDT Exam is administered each year during set periods in the spring and fall.  Because the exam is not an easy one, the time to begin study for the Spring 2016 exam is NOW.  Study materials are available from the CSI website.  The CDT Candidate Handbook lists the domains covered by the exam and the proportion of the exam dedicated to each.  It also lists the source materials that are to be studied by the exam candidate in order to pass the exam.

The CDT is the gateway to CSI’s Certification Program, and is a prerequisite for all of the advanced certifications offered by CSI.  It is a lifetime achievement and use of the letters CDT on your business card will gain you recognition within the industry as an individual who is knowledgeable in the construction process and documentation.

Watch the CSI website for when the registration window opens for the exam, but you should be studying now.  The information you need is available at http://csinet.org/main/certification/CDT .

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