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Cincinnati Construction News

2017 CSI Honors & Award Winners

The CSI Practice Guides

Yocum's Law

Specific Thoughts

Constructive Thoughts

MasterFormat: The Lighter Side

News and Views

Views expressed in these News and Views articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the CSI Cincinnati Chapter or the Construction Specifications Institute.


Cincinnnati Construction News

Hamilton County Wants Library Board to Answer for "Disturbing" North Building Process

September 15, 2017

Raised voices replaced the usual whispers at Cincinnati's library Tuesday morning as accusations of conflicts of interest and secret deals were hurled at library trustees. Hamilton County commissioners want answers from the library board, and Monday they hope to get them. Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune called the library board's lack of transparency about the fate of its north building "disturbing," and summoned the board to the next commission meeting...Read More>>

Who will decide the Fate of Main Library's North Building?

September 5, 2017 - Cincinnati Enquirer

Twenty years ago, taxpayers spent nearly $40 million on a new building for the Main Library Downtown. Now it could be sold for less than $8.5 million.  In June, the board of trustees for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County voted to pull public services from the five-story, 132,500-square-foot north building. The librarycontracted withthe Cincinnati Central City Development Corp. (3CDC) to explore whether to sell, lease or repurpose the building...Read More>>

OTR office project tops off, secures needed city property

July 21, 2017 - Cincinnati Business Courier

Construction crews with TriVersity Construction topped off the 15th and Vine mixed-use project designed by City Studios Architecture on Friday, while the Cincinnati Planning Commission approved the two needed easements for the project on Friday...Read More>>

Commissioner: The Banks needs a ‘fresh set of eyes’

July 20, 2017 - Cincinnati Business Courier
With news that the Banks master developer Carter will end its development agreement with the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Todd Portune praised the Atlanta-based company’s work, but said a change was needed...Read More>>

2017 CSI Honors and Award Winners

July 1, 2017

The Constructions Specifications Institute (CSI) is thrilled to announce that 17 individuals and 10 chapters will be honored at CONSTRUCT 2017 & The CSI Annual Convention in Providence, RI. The CSI Honors & Awards Ceremony will take place Thursday, September 14 at 6 PM. Preregister for this free event at

Distinguished Membership:
Distinguished Membership:Distinguished Membership is the most prestigious honor of the Institute. It is conferred on individuals who have performed distinguished services to the construction industry in fields of activity related to the purposes of the Institute. 

Fellows of the Institute are chosen by their peers. Nominees must maintain membership for not less than five years and have notably contributed to the advancement of construction technology, the improvement of construction specifications, education, or by service to the Institute.

Robert P. Brosseau Award for the Advancement of CSI: 
This award recognizes CSI members who have been recognized by peers as leaders focused on education and the training and mentoring of students and emerging professionals.

Outstanding Contribution Award: 
This award recognizes  a CSI member, chapter, region or group that has made commendable contributions to the goals of the Institute.  It recognizes contributions above and beyond those normally performed as part of a chapter, region, or Institute officer, committee or member .

Technical Document Award: 
This award recognizes an individual, chapter, region or group for a single outstanding accomplishment in technical writing other than project specifications.

Communication Award:
This award recognizes a CSI member, chapter, region or group for outstanding effort in the communication of CSI related topics and activities. 

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The CSI Practice Guides

04 March 2017

Practice Guides serve as a major part of the curated knowledge CSI has to offer professionals. Currently developed as a series of larger publications/text books, the Practice Guides also serve as the core knowledge for the certification program. The CSI Practice Guides are a library of comprehensive references specifically and carefully designed for the construction professional. Each book examines important concepts and best practices integral to a particular aspect of the construction process.  


Project Delivery Practice Guide

Laying the foundation for this series, The CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide provides fundamental knowledge for the documentation, administration, and successful delivery of construction projects. It also serves as the pivotal starting point for understanding CSI's core values, as well as a useful study aid for those wishing to obtain the CDT certificate.

Member Price: $75. Non-Member Price: $85. Learn more, or order.  


Construction Specifications Practice Guide

The CSI Construction Specifications Practice Guide is focused on the roles and responsibilities of the specifications professional in meeting the challenges of the changing world of construction. The Guide also presents construction professions and product researchers studying for the CCS Exam with a solid foundation for identifying cost-effective solutions and communicating those solutions through specifications

Member Price: $72.00 Non-Member Price: $85. Learn more, or order.   


Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide

The CSI Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide presents a thorough overview of standard contract documents and their use in successfully administering construction projects. The Guide also presents construction professionals and students studying for the CCCA Exam with a solid foundation for improving their methods of developing, administering, and enforcing construction documentation.

Member Price: $72. Non-Member Price: $85. Learn more, or order.



The CSI Sustainable Design and Construction Practice Guide compiles information and best practices for those who participate in some aspect of the design and construction of sustainable facilities. The Guide provides best practices for project delivery methods as related to current-day sustainable design. Member Price: $72.00 Non-Member Price: $90.00 Learn more, or order.



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Thomas R. Yocum, Esq., CSI


Yocum & Neuroth, LLC

Attorneys at Law

Relief from Bid

22 October 2017

Bidders on construction projects (whether they be a prime contractor or subcontractor) may on occasion seek relief to avoid being required to enter into a contract based upon a submitted bid.  The reason for seeking relief could be a mathematical or clerical error, an error in judgment, an extended delay in acceptance of the bid, escalation of labor or material prices, or some other reason.

A bidder can legally avoid being forced to enter into a contract based upon a bid in certain circumstances.  The legal excuse may be based upon qualifications contained in the bid itself.  For example, the bid may require that it be accepted within a specified number of days (e.g. 30, or 60 days), may specify utilization of a particular contract form (e.g. AIA Documents), or contain some other contingency.  If the bid is expressly qualified upon certain contingencies being met, the bidder cannot be required to enter into a contract absent fulfillment of the contingencies.

Specific statutory procedures exist for withdrawing bids which were made in error.  Ohio Revised Code §9.31 provides for the right to withdraw a bid within two business days after conclusion of the bid opening procedure where, “the reason for the price bid being substantially lower was a clerical mistake as opposed to a judgment mistake, and was actually due to an unintentional and substantial arithmetic error or an unintentional omission of a substantial quantity of work, labor, or material made directly in the compilation of the bid.”  The notice of claim of right to withdraw the bid must be made in writing and filed with the contracting authority within two business days after the bid opening.  See also, Cincinnati Ordinance Section 321-49 which provides a similar procedure for a bid not requiring bid surety within four business days from the date of bid opening. 

Case law in Ohio has bound subcontractors to honor bids made to a general contractor based upon principles of promissory estoppel, even though the general contractor was not contractually bound to accept the subcontractor’s bid.  This creates a one way street where a general contractor who relied on a subcontractor’s bid in formulating a proposal to the owner has the option to utilize the subcontractor’s bid which could be enforced by a promissory estoppel action, but on the other hand, the subcontractor cannot force the general contractor to accept the bid of the subcontractor even though it was utilized in preparing the prime bid to the owner.

Utilization of the promissory estoppel principle to enforce subcontractor bids was eroded by the Franklin County Court of Appeals decision in Complete General Construction v. Kard Welding, Inc., 182 Ohio App.3d 119 (2009) wherein the Court held that enforcement of a subcontractor bid through promissory estoppel may be avoided where the general contractor did not rely on the bid, failed to accept the bid within a reasonable time, or the general contractor engaged in bid shopping, or made a counter-offer. 


Whether relief from a bid is appropriate is a highly fact sensitive question with one of the key facts being whether the bid is submitted on a public or private project.  Further, whether there will be an entitlement to relief from the bid may depend upon whether proper action is immediately taken.  Where a mistake is made in a private bid, the party receiving the bid cannot knowingly take advantage of the mistake.  Where one bid is extremely low compared to other bids, this should set off alarms prompting inquiry as to the reason for disparity in bid amounts.


Thomas R. Yocum, Esq., CSI

Yocum & Neuroth, LLC

1 Levee Way, Suite 3109

Newport, KY 41071

(859) 291 5500

Web site:


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By Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA

Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter

BWBR Architects

St. Paul, Minnesota


Senseless Security

21 October 2017


How often have you seen a standard confidentiality disclaimer at the end of an email? An email I recently received ended with this:



This email together with any attachment(s) is proprietary and confidential, intended for only the recipient(s) named above and contains information that is privileged. You are hereby notified that the dissemination, distribution or copying of this email or its contents including attachments is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, or are not the named recipient(s), you are hereby notified that any review, dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is prohibited by the sender and doing so constitutes a violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. section 2510-2521. Although precautions have been taken to make sure no viruses are present in this email, [company name] cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from the use of this email or attachment(s).

Even a simpler version, which appeared in an email I received while writing this, is a problem.

The information contained in this message is privileged and intended only for the recipients named. If the reader is not a representative of the intended recipient, any review, dissemination or copying of this message of the information it contains is prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately notify the sender, and delete the original message and attachments.


I'm sure some legal department came up with these disclaimers and insisted they be included in every email, even though compliance with them interferes with marketing and use of their products. In both of the above examples, the email had information the senders expected me to pass on to the other specifiers as well as to our interior design group.

That's often the case; the senders don't say it, but they will be pleased if the information is passed on to others. Yet the disclaimer specifically prohibits that; in fact, it essentially says I can't even talk about it. Not only that, but it states that by doing anything other than deleting the email, I am breaking a law.

This is bad enough when the email does contain product information (though if it's on the company website, what's the point of the disclaimer?), but it becomes ludicrous when it follows casual email.

Joe: What are you doing for lunch today? Do you think Bob will want to join us?

This message and its contents are confidential, and are intended only for the recipient. Do not copy or send it to others.


Or a joke. Occasionally, a friend sends collections of funny photos and videos (safe for work variety), clever sayings, and other amusing things found online. All are followed by his agency's standard disclaimer.

I can't help but wonder what the legal impact is of a disclaimer that is appended to every email regardless of content. I found several opinions online, most of which agree that in most cases, the disclaimer is meaningless, the exceptions being for email from attorneys or others whose messages are legally considered privileged communication.



Email Confidentiality Disclaimers: Annoying but Are The Legally Binding? "Dropping a standard confidentiality disclaimer at the bottom of every company email doesn’t unilaterally force on a recipient any duty of confidentiality. In other words, this disclaimer is of no legal effect."

Spare us the e-mail yada-yada "Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries." 

Blind copying

On a related matter, many manufacturers' representatives send email using blind copy lists. Such information would be useful to the other specifiers, and to various other staff as well. Again, I know the senders would like me to pass their email on, but without knowing whom they sent it to, I am reluctant to forward it, as I know I will send to people who already have the email.

I understand the value of blind copying, and I encourage its use. If a manufacturer's representative wants to send something to a hundred specifiers, none of them will want to see the lengthy "to" list. It would be better for those on the receiving end if the rep were to send to people in a single company with the recipients visible.

The ultimate disclaimer

Scanning through my own email, I found several disclaimers that exceeded 100 words, and one of 238 words. Which led me to wonder, "What is the longest disclaimer?" I've seen fake disclaimers of several hundred words, and many years ago, inspired by a particularly verbose disclaimer, I assembled one that is about 1,400 words. 

But for real email disclaimers written by companies, there are some doozies, including one that ran to more than 1,000 words. ( What's the longest one you've seen?




Email Confidentiality Disclaimers: Annoying but Are The Legally Binding?

Spare us the e-mail yada-yada


The information contained in this article is intended only for anyone who happens to read it. If received in error, failure to forward it to everyone on your contact list is prohibited. After reading, please delete all files, reformat all drives, and immediately take your computer to the nearest LEED-certified incineration plant for disposal according to local ordinances. Upon completion, go directly to the local office of MiB (Men in Black) for neuralyzer treatment.


© 2017, Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC

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By Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA

Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter

BWBR Architects

St. Paul, Minnesota


The Making of a Convention

27 September 2017


A lot goes into a convention: location, scheduling, publicity, solicitation of exhibitors, invitations to potential attendees, and more. Although the exhibit floor is extremely important to exhibitor and attendee alike, the educational seminars and activities are equally important.

Those activities take many forms. The traditional lecture format continues to be popular, but interactive presentations have been increasing. Panel discussions, which seem to be either dreadful or very interesting, allow audience participation. In the last few years, we have had presentations and live demonstrations on the exhibit floor. On occasion, these involve one of my favorite activities - getting your hands dirty. Another recent addition has been YP Day (Young Professionals Day), a collection of special events aimed at young professionals and others new to the construction industry.

I've always known that choosing presentations and speakers must be difficult, and this year I learned how true that is. In December of last year, I was asked to serve on the CONSTRUCT 2017 Education Advisory Council, the group that helped selected this year's speakers and presentations. The Council was led by Jennifer Hughes, Informa Education Manager. In the past, I had made suggestions about presentations, so I felt obligated to accept the challenge.

We started by reviewing a list of about ten possible tours. Even though I love tours, especially of production facilities, I have arrived at convention early enough to go on one only a couple of times. The calls for speakers were still coming in, so we didn't start on those for a while.

As you're probably aware, CSI and other organizations typically send out calls for presentations shortly after the previous year's event. In the past, I wondered why they started so far in advance, but there are three good reasons. First, there's a lot more to the selection process than you might realize, and it takes a lot of time. Then, there is human nature; it seems that no matter how much time is allowed, most people wait until the last minute to submit. Finally, advertising and schedules for the next convention begin to appear months before the event. With registration set to open in May, we had to complete our work by the end of February.

The original deadline for proposals for CONSTRUCT 2017 was 9 January; at the time, I was disappointed to learn that only thirty-four had been submitted. With that few, the rest of the process would have been easy, as we would have had to use all of them. After the deadline was extended by one week, we received a list of nearly two hundred proposals - and then the fun began.


Jennifer asked us to review and score the proposals early in February. The spreadsheet she sent had two tabs. The first included information about the proposals, including title, description, speakers, learning objectives, estimated "grade level" (100, 200, 300), primary audience, and secondary audience. It also indicated which speakers had submitted multiple proposals. The second tab contained information about the speakers, including bios and speaking experience.


Evaluating presentations is not an easy task. The titles sometimes are misleading, the descriptions sent by the presenters can be confusing, and the most important parts - the speakers' abilities and the actual content - remain unknowns to those who haven't heard the speakers. Many of the council members had heard a few of the presenters, so we took their observations into account. Another factor is length of the presentation. Most of them were set at 60 minutes, but some were given 75 or 90 minutes, the intent being to give more time to those speakers who are covering complex subjects.

Some topics were the subject of many speakers, so we had to decide who would do the best job. Credentials are useful information, but they don't apply to presentation style or ability to make the subject interesting. On the other hand, having multiple presentations about a given subject is good for attendees, who often have to choose between two or more topics they want to learn about.

After initial comments had been submitted, we went through a series of scheduling options, which included changes in titles, descriptions, and times. Given the number of options and the amount of information, each iteration took a lot of time. But we did it! In the end, the scheduled events were: 41 seminars, 2 tours, 22 presentations on the show floor, the YPD events, a keynote speaker, and the "game changer" speaker.

A few observations

One of my standard comments about convention presentations is, "How many built-up roofing seminars can you see in one lifetime?" I heard similar comments during the convention; "I heard that two years ago", "I talked about that ten years ago!", and so on. While repetition might seem a problem to the veteran, though, we always have new people who need the same basic information. We'll always have 100 level presentations.

One of the most difficult things to evaluate is the grade level of a presentation you haven't heard. The description might sound like it's for those with more experience, but too often the comments are "That was a waste of time." When you consider the experience that most specifiers have, it's not surprising to hear those comments.

The spreadsheet was so large it couldn't be printed. I displayed it on two 24-inch monitors but still had to do a lot of scrolling, and I used a third monitor for other files and for looking up speakers online.

"Interactive PowerPoint" is not the same as an interactive presentation.

One of the first things I did after joining the group was contact Paul Doherty, and I encouraged having him as the keynote speaker. I have skipped many general sessions because the keynote speakers too often are motivational speakers who may be entertaining but have little to say. However, I did attend and enjoy Thom Mayne's presentation. I'm not a big fan of celebrity architects, but his firm's involvement in design goes beyond making pretty pictures; they apparently get into the details and material properties. I don't care for their results, but the process is interesting, and I hope it inspires other architects to care more about how their buildings work.

Thanks to Jennifer for assembling and managing the Advisory Council, and for her dedication to the educational part of the convention. If you have comments about this year's programs, or suggestions for future topics, I encourage you to send them to both Jennifer at, and to CSI staff at And as always, I invite you to post your comments on my blogsite.


© 2017, Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC

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MasterFormat:  The Lighter Side


Gary Beimers, FCSI, CDT

Grand Rapids Chapter

A humorous look at MasterFormat


Spec That!    

Say What 101400 Signage Passing Place


Say What 101400 Signage Turn Left

10 14 00– Signage


10 14 00– Signage

Remember When 116813 Playground Equipment   Spec That 087100 Door Hardware
11 68 13 - Playgrgound Equipment
08 71 00 - Door Hardware
Remember When    


Remember When 332000 Wells

11 11 00 – Vehicle Service Equipment
33 20 00 - Wells

Gary Beimers, FCSI, CDT is president of GLB Consultants of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an "at large" member of CSC. He has been part of the MasterFormat expansion and implementation team.

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