How to Set Up Construction Job Files

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In the construction industry, the majority of job files are organized in accordance with standards published by the Construction Specifications Institute. CSI is best known for its "MasterFormat" system, which breaks a construction project down into divisions ranging from design to final completion. Every aspect of the commercial construction process, from bidding to job files, is organized in the order of the MasterFormat. This helps create a uniform system that every member of the project team can understand.

Determine which edition of the MasterFormat your project is based on. Before the 2004 version, the list was limited to 16 divisions. After 2004, the list was expanded to 50 divisions. Check the project specifications to see which system is in use on your project.

Obtain a copy of the appropriate MasterFormat titles and numbers from the CSI website. Review this list to become familiar with how it is set up. The job process is organized from start to finish in numerical order, with Divisions 0 and 1 covering design, bidding, and contracts, while Division 16 (or Division 50, depending on the system you're using) covers work toward the end of the project.

Set up hanging file folders for each division that is applicable to your job. For instance, every project will have a Division 0 and a Division 1 folder. Only jobs that have work involving concrete will have a folder for Division 3.

Place smaller, tabbed folders into each hanging file folder. The tabbed folders should be labeled with the name of every company involved in that division. For example, if you have two electricians on a job, the Division 16 file (or Division 50) should contain a folder for each company.

Organize a separate binder for Requests for Information (RFI's), Bids, Change Orders and Addenda. Place these in numerical order so they are easy to sort through later.


Include plenty of space for larger divisions. The mechanical and electrical divisions, for example, almost always require a separate file drawer for each.