CSI certifications - Winnie Sung

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CSI certifications

BY Winnie Sung

CSI certifications consist of the Construction Document Technologist (CDT), Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA), Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) and Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR). The foundation training for these certifications are as follows:

CDT: Project Delivery Practice Guide (PDPG) provides an overview of construction delivery process and industry standard of construction documentation. .

CCCA: CSI Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide takes an in-depth look at standard contract documents and the roles and responsibilities of all parties to construction agreements. 

CCS: Certified Construction Specifier Practice Guide focuses on the roles and responsibilities of the specifiers with guidelines on writing quality construction specifications, product selection, and writing sustainable design specifications. 

CCPR: Construction Product Representation Practice Guide is an essential resource for building product manufacturers, sales representatives, and related professionals. It covers the construction process and the roles the construction product representative plays in the workflow of any project delivery.

CDT is the prerequisite for the three advanced certifications: CCCA, CCS and CCPR. The certification training covers how a project unfolds from conception to delivery. The content includes facility management, construction process, contractual relationships, and interpretation of construction documents. Pictorial illustrations are used throughout the PDPG to clarify the differences between procurement requirements, contract documents and the interrelationships among documents.  Wheel of a hub is one of the best illustration that shows how project manual and document could potentially be affected by Division One. The diagram illustrates the interrelationship between documents and how Division 1 expands on the Condition of the Contract.  It is important for the project team to know how the documents are organized and where to retrieve the pertinent information to avoid risk 

The knowledge of document relationships will help the project team to know where information should be located and to eliminate the error and duplication. The CSI principle is “say it once and in the right place.”  By providing information in the correct location, the entire project team would save time and benefit from an accurate pricing/bid. It is vital to the success of a project to understand the impact of the front end of Contract Documents on the project performance. Specifications and drawings are considered complimentary and there is no precedence. The interrelationships and the complementary concept among documents is fundamental to eliminating conflicts and redundancy.

The practice guides go over the Graphic Formats (e.g. National CAD Standard), language, writing style, vocabulary, sentence structure and symbols to use in a construction specifications and drawings. They are based on the accepted industry standards for contract documents.  Enforcing standards and Written Formats (e.g., OmniClass™, Uniformat™, MasterFormat™, GreenFormat™, SectionFormat™, PageFormat™) in contract document are critical to the preparation and retrieval of information. The Principles of communication: clear, concise, correct, complete (4Cs) in documentation are emphasized in the training.  The goal is continuous improvement toward producing a clear coordinated documentation.  Writing clear and concise notes and using the correct industry standard notations help minimize conflicts.  Better documentation means the project team will spent less time in responding to RFI’s which may impact cost and time. Avoiding confusion is the best way to avoiding risk.   

CDT goes in depth over the content in the conditions of the contracts using the AIA A201, and it provides the basic understanding of the roles and legal responsibilities of project team members. 

The intent of the certifications is to help the project team to deliver quality construction document, project manual, and construction administration.  Most professionals would agree that universities generally train students to be designers and not practitioners. Architects learn construction knowledge at work.  Sometimes we learned from costly mistakes. Information in the project guide is very practical and useful.  Studying for certifications is like bridging the gap between school and practices. 

The project guides provide the tools to understand project delivery methods, contractual relationships, document organizations, document preparations, insurances, and claims and disputes. Through the certified training programs, owners, designers, contractors, construction administrators, product representatives, and facility managers could work together as a team to enhance the quality of construction for the life cycle of a facility. 

The certifications are open to everyone, and there are no educational prerequisites. Certifications can prepare every team member to face difficult challenges and can open up opportunities to make worthy contributions to projects. When a contractor, a product representative, a facility manager, an architect, an engineer, a building official, or a construction administrator makes the effort to be certified, these individual take their knowledge in construction seriously and strive to improve the quality in construction. Becoming certified in one or more professional certifications should represents a significant accomplishment that offers recognition of professional achievement.