CSC: Principles of Construction Documentation Course – First Week

Specification Writing Illustration - from Midvale City websiteAs I mentioned in a previous post, I would discuss what I’m learning in my CSC Principles of Construction Documentation course. In our first week of classes, our modules covered both ethics , and the history and new developments in specification writing. Because I’m taking the course, I’m not sure how much I should ethically share here in this forum, so I’ll keep it fairly general.

The history of specifications, as presented in the course makes sense to me. More information produced plus better ways of reproducing information (mimeographs, copiers, electronic processors, PDFs) let to the need to standardize, which is why the specification book is now separate from the drawings, and why the MasterFormat is the current standard.

What I’m confused about now, is the “new” documentation system, OmniClass. I decided to look up the website, to see if makes more sense than my class description from 2004. I felt my brain slowly implode as I read the class texts. It reads like an overly complicated way of encoding what products are used to create what buildings, and its done in number format. The Introduction document from their website gives the following illustration:

/ 11-17 11/11-17 24 Office and Retail Facilities
simple number 11-17 11 11 An office building which is headquarters for an organization
+ 21-51 51 00+13-51 11 34 11 Climate Control System (HVAC) products for office spaces
< 13-51 11 34 11<11-13 24 11 An office space which is part of a hospital.

From what I can understand, it classifies pretty much everything in the built environment by tables. For example, table 11 is Construction by Function. Table 23 is Products.  Table 33 is Disciplines. I can see this being a really useful tool for embedding in software programs like Revit, where Building Information Modelling puts all the information right at all the users’ fingertips. What I find difficult to imagine, is training everyone to find that information to encode it into the buildings. To me, it requires a computer programmer’s reasoning. And while I’m logical, and can navigate around some computer programming if I take the time to learn, it seems like it would be a pretty steep learning curve for our industry.

Is this the way of the future? Am I missing something that would make this concept easier to comprehend?