Engineers Save Time and Reduce Risk with AIA MasterSpec

December 03, 2020

Quality specifications are a cornerstone to a well-executed design project. Specifications not only empower design teams to accurately describe the quality, quantity and basis of design— they also enable contractors to execute the build accordingly.

This important source of project information impacts the overall flow of communication between parties. In the event of disputes or structural failures, specifications become an important point of reference for determining the design intent. In fact, the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) includes specification guidelines within their Code of Ethics and offers their members case studies on how specifications can make or break a construction dispute.

Engineering firms of all sizes and scopes can reduce risk by delivering specification documents that are precise, tailored to the project at hand, and unlikely to be misinterpreted.

A Streamlined Approach to Specifications

MEA Consulting Engineers, a mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) firm, based in Denver, Colorado, is a prime example of an engineering firm that prioritizes quality specifications. They believe the best project results happen when the project architect and engineer work collaboratively. MEA has relied on MasterSpec for more than 20 years to streamline specification creation, product research, product selection, and project management.

The firm originally chose MasterSpec to guide their specification creation and enhance their working relationships with architecture clients. MEA needed a shared solution for specifications to avoid costly interdisciplinary design and workflow conflicts that impacted project budgets and schedules. They also needed accurate product specification details to eliminate the time consuming and laborious process of manually tracking down the latest building product information from manufacturers.

With over 930 sections and more than 750 pre-edited manufacturer specifications, MasterSpec is the most comprehensive tool on the market to help tackle these challenges. Many engineering consultants use AIA MasterSpec because 83% of top architecture firms use it as their trusted master guide specifications. This creates consistency in spec delivery, saving time and boosting efficiencies, with all specifications created in the same system and format.

According to MEA’s Vice President, Michael Aitken, MasterSpec provides a significant time savings that boosts team efficiencies. Their team is able to write specifications in only 75% of the time that it would take to create them from scratch. “The value gained and time saved by using MasterSpec as our master guide specification resource is invaluable to our firm and allows us to put that time saved towards pursuing new business opportunities,” says Aitken.

MEA continues to utilize MasterSpec to find out about new products, track LEED points and accreditation for sustainability projects, and bring emerging professional engineers up to speed at a faster pace. “The evaluations [in MasterSpec] are a great tool for entry-level engineers. They can read the evaluation to better understand the section, the products, and why you would use these certain products.”

Developed For Engineers by Engineers

Today, Michael Aitken’s relationship with MasterSpec goes beyond his day-to-day role at MEA Consulting Engineers. As a 13-year member of the MasterSpec Engineering Review Committee (MERC) and former Chair, Michael has volunteered his time to ensuring MasterSpec content remains up-to-date, accurate and unbiased.

This peer review process is part of Deltek’s exclusive product relationship with The American Institute of Architects (AIA). AIA facilitates multiple review meetings each year as a commitment to keep up with changes in technology, diversity and sustainability that impact design standards in both the Architectural and Engineering libraries.

The MasterSpec Engineering Review Committee is made up of two groups, Mechanical and Electrical. They’re comprised of professional engineers from firms of different sizes, specialties and geographies to ensure that major updates to MasterSpec are representative of the wide range of practicing engineers who interact with specifications.

“On [the committees], we have HVAC experts, plumbing experts, and fire sprinkler experts. We bring in power experts, lighting experts, communication, and then cross-reference with manufacturer representatives. We try to make sure we're addressing all the important aspects of the engineering industry,” Aitken explained during a webinar about the peer review process.

“We're really diving into the technical aspect of each of the spec sections and making sure that the content that is being issued from MasterSpec is as accurate and complete as it can be.”


AIA Research: Journey to Specification

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Don’t Get Left Behind

Writing specifications from scratch or using outdated specifications from previous projects can put your firm at risk and lead to more RFIs and change orders. There’s a reason the Top 10 Engineering News Record (ENR) Design Firms are using a Deltek tool for their specification management.

If you or members of your team haven’t evaluated your specification practice recently, we’re here to help. Deltek has a diverse team of architects, engineers and spec-writers that are committed to supporting the industry with the most-used and most-trusted tools and resources. Connect with a member of our team to see MasterSpec in action and find out just how easy it is to get the latest version of the industry’s most trusted specification content.

To learn more about the MasterSpec Peer Review Committees or express your interest in joining, send us a note at [email protected].