Construction Project Management A Real Application Of UNIFORMAT II

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UNIFORMAT II enables superior construction project management with all project stakeholders communicating effectively and using the same elemental cost data.

An example is the building for the Faculty of Environmental Planning and Design at the University of Montreal, Saucier + Perrotte / Menkes Shooner Dagenais Architects.

Writing in an article entitled "UNIFORMAT II Improves University Project Performance," Robert P. Charette, PE, CVS, describes how UNIFORMAT II helped control the project scope, cost, time and quality.


The design team used it for elemental schematic and design development specifications and elemental program and design estimates.

UNIFORMAT II is the Essential Link

When undertaking the construction of a building, owners, developers, project managers, architects, engineers and cost managers always have the same thing in mind - to control the project scope, cost, time and quality.

Achieving this requires effective communications among all the project participants. A productive exchange of information helps identify potential problems early - even before design begins.

The result is reduced design and construction delays, cost overruns and claims. UNIFORMAT II helps do all this and more by providing a seamless link from programs to specifications to estimates.

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Improves Construction Project Management

Standard E1557, Standard Classification for Building Elements and Related Sitework - UNIFORMAT II, provides such a means for improved communication and control.

It introduces into the design process a common framework linking the facilities program, specifications and estimates. Subcommittee E06.81 on Building Economics, part of committee E-6 on Performance of Buildings, recently revised the standard.

The primary reason was to assign to each element an alphanumeric designation to be used universally in an ever-increasing number of applications, for example:

  • program budgets
  • technical programs
  • preliminary project descriptions (schematic phase specifications)
  • performance specifications for design-build
  • design estimates
  • life-cycle costing
  • base building condition evaluation reports for facilities management
  • long-term capital replacement budgeting
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UNIFORMAT II Improves Cost Control

The E1557 standard grew out of the original UNIFORMAT classification developed in 1975 by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

It was intended primarily for design estimates. Because of the work done in building economics, the subcommittee realized in the late 1980s that tremendous cost savings could be had by applying such a classification to the construction industry in the form of an ASTM standard.

To update UNIFORMAT, the sub-committee consulted organizations that might be affected (CSI, GSA, AACE and the Tri-Services Committee) to form a task group that set about developing it as an ASTM standard.

E1557 was published in 1993 as a classification for building elements and related sitework. Building 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.

From a project management perspective, an element is part of a work breakdown structure. In fact, it may be any distinctive component or task required for building construction.

Construction Project Management - University of Montreal
University of Montreal
Faculty of Environmental Planning and Design
Saucier + Perrotte / Menkes Shooner Dagenais Architects

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UNIFORMAT II Element Numbering System

When first issued, E1557 did not include a numbering system for the building elements. This was a problem because users of the classification were creating their own designators, making it impossible to readily correlate or interface data from one project to another.

Now, with the latest revision, everyone using the current E1557 standard can relate to identical element numbers, whatever the application.

Furthermore, similar designators are in the Construction Specification Institute (CSI) Practice FF/180, Preliminary Project Descriptions and Outline Specifications, which recommends a project description by elements at the schematic design phase.

For truly effective communications in construction project management, project managers can now apply this classification and have a consistent reference format for analysis, evaluation and monitoring during the feasibility, planning and design phases of a project.

Using this classification produces a greater degree of consistency in the design management process from project to project. Whether building in Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Zurich or Tokyo, one uses the same simple format to communicate effectively with all project team members. No other internationally recognized standard provides this capability.

The foregoing is an adaptation of the article "E1557, Standard Classification for Building Elements and Related Sitework - UNIFORMAT II." This article, written in collaboration with Robert P. Charette, appeared in the July, 1996 issue of ASTM Standardization News.

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The Author

Robert P. Charette, PE, CVS was co-chairman of the ASTM Task Group that developed UNIFORMAT II. He is accredited as a Certified Value Specialist by SAVE, the Society of American Value Engineers.

He presents seminars on a regular basis on UNIFORMAT II, Life Cycle Costing, and Value Engineering at the McGill University School of Architecture Design & Modelling Centre. He may be reached by telephone or fax at 514-739-3522 or online through the contact us page.