Contributed by Randy Nishimura
Change is a constant in architecture and construction. If anything, the pace of this change is accelerating. We all struggle to keep up with the latest developments in an effort to remain competitive. Our success is contingent upon how quickly we adapt in an environment buffeted by forces largely beyond our control. Survival of the fittest is a maxim always in play.
If there is another constant in our industry it is the importance of clear, concise, correct and complete construction documentation and communications. Architecture and construction are increasingly dependent upon the effective conveyance of design intent. They are likewise dependent upon the clear definition of project responsibilities and roles detailed by the forms of agreement most widely used in construction projects. It’s important and necessary for everyone — owners, architects, engineers, specifiers, general contractors, subcontractors, construction materials suppliers, and others — to understand project delivery options, standard forms of agreement, means for organizing drawings and specifications, etc.
Change and the Four C’s of construction documentation are not incompatible. A key to managing the former and mastering the latter is knowledge, specifically fluency with the lingua franca of our industry. Knowledgeable employers highly value those who understand the language of construction, its underlying principles and terminology, and the critical relationships between all the participants in any design and construction undertaking. Employees who thoroughly understand this language not only survive but are more likely to thrive. They are the winners in today’s challenging and constantly changing environment.
So, how can you demonstrate your construction knowledge and competence? How can you stand out in the crowd? One of the best ways is to achieve CSI's Construction Documents Technologist (CDT) status.
The Construction Specifications Institute developed the CDT program decades ago to provide training in construction documentation for architects, contractors, contract administrators, specifiers, and manufacturers’ representatives. Since then, it has become the cornerstone for all of CSI’s certification programs, which presently include Certified Construction Specifier (CCS), Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA), and Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR).
Passing the CDT examination means you have become fluent with construction project processes and communication. It means you’ve demonstrated professional commitment, credibility, and reliability to your employer, colleagues, and clients. Obtaining CDT status benefits you, your company, and your customers. Getting your CDT also means acquiring the privilege to add “CDT” after your name on your business card and resume.
In some respects, I regard the value of the CDT as analogous to that of a liberal arts degree, in that both provide a foundation for more advanced learning. I became a CDT back in 1989, and subsequently achieved Certified Construction Specifier status a couple of years later. There’s no doubt in my mind that studying for and passing both examinations has served me very well professionally. What I learned provided me with a solid knowledge base I’ve relied upon throughout my career. I know I’m a much better architect than I might have been without the benefit of what I learned through those two certification programs. I truly believe this knowledge equipped me with the ability to better cope with the accelerating changes in our industry by ensuring I first thoroughly grasped the time-tested fundamentals of construction documentation and communications.
I highly encourage any of you who are simply curious about CDT certification to seriously consider learning more about its value. Ask others besides me who have become CDTs. Or check out CSI’s YouTube channel for informational webinars about its certification programs. The webinars provide more information than I have shared here. Each webinar covers the requirements and resources needed for successful exam preparation and study. Many local CSI chapters also offer educational courses to help those interested prepare for the examinations.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Knowledge provides a competitive edge. Give your knowledge about construction documents and communication a boost by becoming a Construction Documents Technologist. The true value of CDT certification is beyond calculation—it’s priceless.
(Editors note: the next testing window for CDT & advanced certification will be Spring of 2017)
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