Construction Document Specialist (CDS)

Part One: CDS Construction Working Drawings and Project Manual

This book deals with interpreting information conveyed from the architect/engineer to the contractor by way of a legal document and with implementing that fundamental understanding.
It discusses the many components of the legal agreement that binds the parties in a construction project:

  • working drawings
  • specifications
  • contract requirements of the Project Manual

A comprehensive understanding of the project’s construction documents is necessary to prepare an estimate for submitting a bid and to prepare a project schedule for controlling costs after the contract is awarded.

Part One Course Sections and Objectives

1. Civil Drawings 5. Electrical Drawings
2. Architectural Drawings 6. Project Manual
3. Structural Drawings 7. Specifications
4. Mechanical Drawings


Civil Drawings

  • Identify factors in site selection and planning
  • Understand how to read a topographic survey plan
  • Identify symbols used to classify various soil types
  • Understand how to read a site plan
  • Distinguish between an earth change plan and an erosion and sedimentation control plan

Architectural Drawings

  • The various types of drawings that comprise the working drawings of a project
  • The sheet sequence for a set of working drawings
  • Plan, section, and elevation symbols
  • Common abbreviations and dimensioning practices

Structural Drawings

  • Identify the types of structural drawings used for:
    • cast-in-place concrete
    • precast/pre-stressed concrete
    • structural steel
  • Understand how precast panels are erected
  • Become familiar with the various types of welding symbols
  • Understand how structural steel members are dimensioned

Mechanical Drawings

  • Describe the types of mechanical systems found in buildings:
    • HVAC
    • plumbing
    • Fire protection
  • Identify drawing symbols common to mechanical drawings
  • Understand the purpose of riser diagrams

Project Manual

  • Understand what comprises the project manual
  • Understand which documents become part of the contract and which do not
  • Identify information contained in the Invitation to Bid versus the Instructions to Bidders
  • Identify components of a bid form
  • Define the various types of bonds.
  • Distinguish between general and supplementary conditions.

Electrical Drawings

  • Identify common types of electrical equipment, lighting fixtures, and wiring systems
  • Identify types of over-current protection
  • Identify drawing symbols common to electrical drawings
  • Understand the purpose of single line diagrams


  • Understand the organization and numbering system of the 2004 CSI Masterformat
  • Distinguish between the various types of specifications.
  • Understand the three parts that comprise a specification section.

Part Two: Introduction to Construction Estimating and Scheduling

Types of estimates

  • Estimating general and job overhead
  • Accounting for allowances
  • Alternates in the bid proposal
  • Estimator skills and attributes
  • The fundamentals of preparing estimates for the major trades
    • site work
    • concrete
    • masonry
    • structural steel
    • interior finishes
    • mechanical construction
    • electrical construction

A step-by-step approach is provided in preparing project schedules utilizing the critical path method and precedence schedules. The importance of schedule adjustments is discussed to provide realistic and valid information for decision making. The comprehensive analysis of scheduling provides the reader with an understanding of the optimal work sequence and the impact of deviations on the work schedule and ultimately on the project’s cost.

Part Two: The Quantity Survey

1. Estimating Principles
2. Architectural Drawings
3. Preparing the Bid
4. Project Scheduling

Architectural Drawings

  • How the estimate is structured
  • Important considerations when preparing the estimate
  • Quantity surveying and pricing methods for several major trade categories

Preparing the Bid

  • The difference between general and job overhead
  • The purpose of alternate bids
  • Common bid errors and what to do about them
  • The various uses of the estimate
  • How to prepare a bid

Estimating Principles

  • Important characteristics of an estimate
  • Estimator’s role and qualifications
  • 5 different types of estimates
  • Sources of cost data
  • Components of a detailed estimate

Project Scheduling

  • The significance of planning, scheduling and controlling a project
  • The elements, attributes and development of a schedule
  • Precedence diagramming and schedule calculations
  • How to properly communicate the schedule
  • Resource allocation and leveling, cash flow, and schedule updating