…Well, one of my most embarrassing professional moments, anyway.

I’ve received several email notifications lately regarding the upcoming deadline (March 2nd)  to register for the CSI CDT exam.  Although sometimes I let friends believe that I’m a member of the Crime Scene Investigators, CSI is the Construction Specifications Institute, and CDT is the certification for a Construction Documents Technologist.

My moment of humiliation occurred about 13 or 14  years ago.  I was well-established in the hardware industry…I had my AHC (Architectural Hardware Consultant) and CDC (Certified Door Consultant) certifications,  and I worked for the New England rep for Von Duprin and LCN – MPS Sales.  I had been writing hardware specs for a few years at the time, and I thought I was pretty capable, especially considering some of the hardware specs written by architects (if you’re an architect taking offense to that statement, your specs probably aren’t the ones I’m referring to).

My boss and I decided to go see one of the top independent specifiers in the Boston area, who would typically write all of the sections of the specification except for the hardware section.  We hoped to work with him to write the hardware specifications for his projects.  I won’t mention any names, but this specifier is extremely well-respected and has built a very successful business.  Go big or go home, right?

We took our “master” specification and made a binder for our presentation, and then went to see the Spec King.  I was responsible for creating the master spec, and I had used it for quite a few projects at that point.  The Spec King took one look at it and politely started pointing out errors…words that should or shouldn’t have been capitalized, words that shouldn’t be used in a spec, things that were addressed in the wrong place, and other things that should have only been addressed in Division 1.  Some of the errors were due to my lack of understanding of CSI format…some were due to the fact that many hardware distributors did not typically look at Division 1 when they were bidding a job.  I started to explain my motivation for duplicating the Division 1 information in the hardware section, and the Spec King looked at me and spoke the phrase that has been repeated many times within our office…”It’s WRONG.”

Just typing this brings the flush back to my cheeks.  I don’t remember ever being as upset during my career, even when I was treated like I didn’t know anything because I was female.  In those cases (including the time the customer told me that I could help him by bringing him 2 hot dogs and a coffee), I was secure in my knowledge of doors and hardware and I knew that I would eventually win them over.  Being WRONG was not something I had experienced very often, especially in front of my boss and by someone I respected so much.

The Spec King suggested that I should attend the CDT study course offered by our local CSI chapter, and take the exam.  So I did.  And I was amazed at how much I learned.  I made the necessary changes to our master spec, and the next year I studied for and passed the CCPR (Certified Construction Product Representative) exam.

I gained a much better understanding of the construction process, the contractual relationships, and construction documents – including specifications.  I list my CSI credentials on my business card (and everywhere else my name is printed), so people who haven’t met me before know immediately that I am experienced and have an understanding of these principles.  And the Spec King?  He has since referred many architects my way, and continues to do so on a weekly basis.

If you already know everything you need to know to pass the CDT exam, then earn the credentials to prove it!  If not, join a study group and start preparing!  It’s well worth the investment.

Comic posted with permission from Architexts.us.

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