FAQs: Content & Updating

What master database is provided with SpecLink-E?

Over 783 master guides sections are provided that cover all normal building disciplines. these sections are organized so they can be collapsed or expanded to provide outline, short form, and full construction specs. In addition, there are 32 Design Criteria sections that are typically used early in a project to define its expected performance, before the project has been designed.

Taken together, the database of sections can be used for all phases of a construction project, from programming all the way through construction administration:

  • Use the Design Criteria sections during programming to help define overall performance of the building and its elements before design begins in a Uniformat/Preliminary Project Description (PPD) format.
  • Collapse the construction specs to Outline Mode to produce very brief specifications for the schematic design phase.
  • Expand them slightly in Short Form Mode to produce abbreviated 3-part specs for the design development phase.
  • Expand the specifications completely to produce final edited construction documents in CSI's 3-part format.
  • Use the 30+ reports produced by SpecLink-E during the construction administration phase to keep track of submittals and other administrative requirements.

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What are Catalogs?

BSD specifications are available to subscribers in several packages, which we call "Catalogs." More information is on our detailed lists of which sections are included in which Catalogs and the Ordering Page. Each subscriber receives a key that allows only the sections that are in the subscriber's catalog to be opened.

  • The SpecLink-E sections are available as a Comprehensive Catalog that includes everything, and in sub-sets for specific disciplines—Architectural, Civil, Structural, Landscape, Mechanical/Electrical. Design Criteria and Wastewater can be added to any of the other catalogs
  • In addition, you can subscribe to the Design Criteria catalogs separately, which includes all of Divisions 00 and 01.
  • You can also subscribe to the outline and Short Form versions only of all sections in all disciplines.
  • Click here to go to the Catalog listings.

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Are General Conditions and other contract forms included?

No contract forms are actually included in the master database—most of them are copyrighted.

The SpecLink-E construction specifications reference and coordinate with the latest editions of AIA A201, AIA A201/CMa, ConsensusDOCS and EJCDC 1910-8 and more. All the sections are written to preclude the need for coordination with any particular general conditions—unless very unusual provisions are necessary.

The Design Criteria sections reference and coordinate with contract forms for design-build by DBIA, AIA, EJCDC, and ConsensusDOCS. Owners who use other forms or specialized contracting methods, including adherence to the FAR, will need to review and possibly revise the sections dealing with contractual matters.

The Short Form Specifications do not include any contractual provisions at all, except an abbreviated version of Division 1 - General Requirements.

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Do master specification sections include lists of manufacturers?

In SpecLink-E, in each appropriate location, lists of manufacturers who make that type of product are included. Only 3 or 4 manufacturers are included for each product category each, selected by BSD based on the likelihood that our users would wish to include them in a project spec. Users should verify that they make the kinds of products that are specified in the project specification.

We have not tried to include exhaustive lists, but instead include popular names so that our users don't have to type them in. There are much better sources for manufacturer names and product information than we at BSD could ever maintain—namely, the Internet—that we do not try to make SpecLink-E a product research tool. However, we periodically verify those that are listed to be sure they are still in business and make the type of product for which they are listed.

See the Specifier's Library for suggestions on where to look on the Internet.

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What's the difference between "non-proprietary" and "proprietary" specification sections?

Over 90 percent of the SpecLink-E sections are non-proprietary, descriptive specifications. That means that the master text has been written to allow the user to prepare a good specification without listing either a manufacturer's name or the name of a brand name product. This allows a contractor or bidder to propose any specific brand name product that has the specified characteristics, subject to the rules specified in the bidding documents.

Non-proprietary, descriptive specifications are commonly accompanied by lists of acceptable manufacturers or brand name products, either as examples of some that would be acceptable ("pre-approved") or as the only ones that are allowed unless specific approval is given under a substitution process. SpecLink-E's non-proprietary sections allow both of these options and include some sample manufacturer names in lists for use if they are appropriate. Non-proprietary sections are shown in the tree panel in blue text.

Proprietary specifications, on the other hand, are written around the sponsoring manufacturer's actual brand name products and usually list the names of the products, as well as detailed descriptions of their physical properties and required methods of installation. Some of the proprietary SpecLink-E sections have non-proprietary counterparts and some don't. Proprietary sections in SpecLink-E are shown in black in the tree panel and are clearly marked with the manufacturer's name, address, and other pertinent information in the notes to the specifier.

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Does the software convert inch-pound dimensions to metric?

For every specification statement that includes a unit of measure, the master database includes both the inch-pound and metric units. It is easy to switch between them (from the Summary Info dialog box) and you can even include them both, as inch-pound (metric) or metric (inch-pound).

Where there are dimensional fill-in-the-blanks, the software does not convert the values you enter. If you use both inch-pound units and metric units in most of your specs, you should probably choose which format you want and not switch it thereafter. The reason is that the fill-in-the-blank is actually just text, with four versions of units for a specific instance, not calculations. You'll have to make the calculations yourself and choose whether you want a "hard", "soft", or rationalized conversion.

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What about updates?

The master database is updated continuously on BSD's server, but each subscriber can determine how frequently data updates will be installed. The default term is monthly, but users can elect to increase this period to weekly or reduce it to a semi-annual update. the updated package is delivered by downloading from BSD's website. The downloaded updates are installed automatically and will be available for your next project. If you open an existing project after installing an update, you will be asked if you wish to update the project. However, any updates to an existing project will never overwrite your edits, which always take precedence. You can choose not to update any project, but sections and paragraphs that would be affected by the updates are marked for subsequent review.

The SpecLink-E software is updated on an as-needed basis from BSD's server. Once installed on your network server, any software update is automatically made available to every computer that has the software installed.

Spec-Link-E data update are researched and implemented by experienced specification writers on BSD's staff. We also cooperate with major standards developers, like ASTM, to be sure that the standards specified in SpecLink-E are readily available to design professionals, product manufacturers, and contractors. Software updates are made by our experienced staff of software engineers and are thoroughly tested before being implemented.

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When an update is installed, will that change my office master?

Not necessarily. Although the updates are installed automatically, if you don't want to take advantage of the updates, you don't have to. Whenever you open an existing project after updating, the software will detect that the data has been updated and will ask you what you want to do. You can choose to update automatically, or you can choose not to update.

If you choose not to update — the software doesn't make any changes, but marks all the places where they would be made and gives you a chance to look at them and accept or reject them.

If you choose to update automatically—the software never replaces any text that you have edited or added.

For an office master, it's probably a good idea to review all the updates. If you have modified master text, it may be that the update made a change that you wish to include - or maybe you added data that we have now incorporated via an update.

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I'm a building product manufacturer. How can I get my product listed in the master specificiations?

Most of the SpecLink-E sections are non-proprietary, descriptive specifications, with optional lists of commonly-specified manufacturers included for our users' convenience (i.e. to avoid having to enter them). You can easily identify the non-proprietary sections on the SpecLink-E catalog listing—their AUTHOR is indicated as "BSD".

A building product manufacturer should first be interested in making sure that a SpecLink-E user can actually specify the types of products he makes. To do that, be sure that our specification writers have a current copy of your complete product literature (what you normally give out to architects and engineers). Test reports and copies of reports such as those from the ICBO-ES or NES would also be useful. This information will be used to verify, and improve if necessary, the non-proprietary specification for your types of products. Send this data to:

  • SpecLink-E Product Manager
  • Building Systems Design, Inc.
  • 3565 Piedmont Road NE, Two Piedmont Center, Suite 300
  • Atlanta, GA 30305
We also have a special program for manufacturers to showcase their products in SpecLink-E.

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How do I know these frequent updates won't disrupt the specs on my current project?

Automatic updates include reference standards, building product information, and updated manufacturer names, as well as completely new sections and improvements to the software. Since your project files are separate from the master text, however, our automatic updates won't affect any changes you've made in your project — including text you've added or modified, links you've created, or project notes you've added.

  • You can choose whether or not to update any project you open. You can ignore updates for later review, or apply them automatically. Unlike systems utilizing only word processing, such as AIA Masterspec® or CSRF SpecText®, you never have to choose between your edited text and a new master document.
  • If you choose not to update an entire project automatically, you can look at the marked paragraphs one by one, display the proposed changes in a special window, and update the individual paragraphs, individual sections, or the entire project. You can even choose to automatically update just the reference standards for the whole project, or just the manufacturer listings. You can also compare new language in the master text with edited text in your office master project (your own "master spec") and choose between them.
You can also print a detailed report that automatically lists every paragraph in your project affected by the update.

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