Background On UNIFORMAT II The ASTM E1557 Building Standard

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The UNIFORMAT II ASTM E1557 Standard provides a common structure linking the building program, specifications, and estimates through its classification for building elements and related sitework.

Its integration in the design process results in improved communications and coordination among all project participants, an accelerated design, and significantly increased productivity.


The classification provides the Project Manager with an essential tool to control project scope, cost, time and quality.

Brief Standard History

The original UNIFORMAT was developed jointly by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1972 for estimating and design cost analysis.

UNIFORMAT II, first issued by ASTM in 1993, is an enhanced version developed by a task group that included amongst others CSI, GSA, AACE, the Tri-Services, R.S. Means and CIQS.

It is more comprehensive than the original, particularly with respect to the mechanical and sitework elements. Thus the format is suitable for numerous other applications, such as Schematic Phase Preliminary Project Descriptions.

Elements Are Key

ASTM E1557, UNIFORMAT II, defines a standard classification for building elements and related sitework. The classification was the direct responsibility of Subcommittee E-06.81 on Building Economics, and it is the only such standard in North America. See the following figures:

Elements are traditionally defined as "major components, common to most buildings, that perform a given function, regardless of the design specification, construction method, or materials used."

In practice, an element may be considered any logical component of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). From a project management perspective, the UNIFORMAT II classification is the ideal WBS for the design phase of a building project to control scope, cost, quality, and time.

Universal Standard

UNIFORMAT type classifications have been recommended by the Construction Specifications Institute/Construction Specifications Canada (CSI/CSC) to structure schematic phase specifications, and by the Design-Build Institute of America for performance specifications.

Increasingly, UNIFORMAT is being used on projects outside North America as a respected universal standard to control the project scope, cost, time and quality of building projects.