What Is CSI Format

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is the authoritative power responsible for publication of the MasterFormat. It is basically a catalog of the process of Construction. All North American Construction and Commercial building projects are designed in accordance with the standard defined in the MasterFormat. The MasterFormat is basically an indexing system that is used for the organization of the Construction Data. It is logically broken down into divisions.

The Construction Data is organized into the divisions such as Wood, electrical, equipment, concrete, existing conditions, special construction etc. These divisions represent the construction process. The Division 1 is for General requirements and the last Division, which before the revision was Division 16, is for electrical systems. The MasterFormat saves the building owner’s money and makes the Construction Project’s progress much more effective and efficient by turning a chaotic process into a much more organized one.

The increasing complexity of the Construction Industry has led to an expansion in the divisions of the MasterFormat publication from 16 to 50. It now also compromises facility life cycle and maintenance information. The MasterFormat divisions are structured to accommodate both expansion and future growth. The standard is updated to reflect the latest practices and technologies. Members of the Construction Industry are welcomed to suggest revisions to the MasterFormat Divisions making the MasterFormat an ever evolving and a work in progress rather than a static document.

Advantages of the CSI Divisions:

There are many benefits that come with having a standard and structure for important data. CSI MasterFormat assists in the full documentation of a complex system. Having a CSI standard helps the various types Construction Workers involved in a project, the engineers, suppliers, architects, and project managers etc., to communicate and coordinate. It is primarily used to improve communication between the construction and design teams. The entire purpose of this standard is to save time involved in the organization of the document.

The CSI MasterFormat helps the project manager to develop a timeline for the project and assists the rest of the project members meet the deadline, stay on budget and work in accordance with the client’s requirements. Now with the introduction of automation in the Construction Industry, the CSI MasterFormat is essential to achieve the purposeful interoperability. The wide range of divisions, make it possible for the CSI MasterFormat to be used for the design, construction, and operation of various types of Construction Projects, be in residential, commercial, or public infrastructure like an elementary or a hospital. Design Professionals use the CSI MasterFormat to construct safe, long lasting, and up-to-code buildings.

CSI MasterFormat make it extremely easy to retrieve data since all the data in organized in specific divisions and this helps the Architects and Contracts work on renovations or make additions in futureIt helps them easily collect the data that they may require. The MasterFormat’s 50 division format is also being used by modelling software system for Building Information Modelling (BIM) adaptation. Professionals have been able to achieve greater efficiency due to this BIM integration with the MasterFormat especially in the healthcare building Construction projects. 

Compliance of the CSI Divisions with the Industrial Changes:

The MasterFormat was first released in 1975. At that time, it had 16 Divisions which were later increased to 50 Divisions in 2004. The CSI MasterFormat is revised every five to seven years. It has a Maintenance Task Team which supervises the revision process and takes into consideration the suggestions of the MasterFormat users which also includes representatives of the Construction Specification’s publishers. The revisions help to make the CSI MasterFormat much more adaptable.

The first revision took place when CSI recognized in 1990s that the certain divisions of the MasterFormat were too packed to take in new technologies and hired a Task Force in 1999 to make revisions. Similarly, the revision of 2004 was because of the rising importance of a building’s electrical system and the need for a separate telecommunication system’s division. For the Life Safety Systems, Division 21 and for Telecommunication systems Division 25 was added. For Waste treatment and power systems, Division 40s were assigned. Improvements were made to the polished concrete which are covered in the section under the Division 3.


The CSI MasterFormat reduces the cost and effectively accelerates a project’s progress. Given the strict schedule requirements the Construction Projects need to adhere by, there is much more reason to jump onboard and start using the CSI MasterFormat.

We at Paramount Estimating provide all kinds of quantity takeoffs for Residential as well as Commercial Construction. We provide detailed estimates takeoff that compromises of information organized in accordance to the CSI 50-Division MasterFormat to ensure accuracy and adherence to the standard. Our estimation services extend across the USA, CANADA, Uk and AUSTRALIA to General Contractors, Sub Contractors, Architects, Consultants and House Constructors.

Our estimators have the ability to handle any size of the project using the PlanSwift Software We make sure that all the values/quantities provided by us are accurate so you can proceed with the cost estimation. We provide free revisions, digitized screenshots of quantities for reference, well referenced and detailed pricing sheets. Our Estimates are 99.99% correct and our turnaround time is 24-48 hours. We will help you save a lot of time and money and you will get very competitive rates for takeoff.

So if you happen to need an estimate for a project, do contact us by sending us the drawing either through email or a contact form. We will get back to you shortly with a price and time required to complete the takeoff.