Course Syllabus

Note: This course code has changed from ARCH 270 to VDC 170 You may occasionally see references to the old course code or title.


This course will teach about the content and preparation of the documents within a project manual. Students will learn how to define and explain different types of contracts and specification documents and will practice writing them. They will also study subjects like the coordination of drawings and specifications, bidding requirements, construction contracts, methods of specifying, substitutions, and warranties.

Course Description

This course is intended to provide information about the content and preparation of the various documents found within a construction project.  It will define and explain the different types of contracts, specifications, drawings, and building codes used on a typical project. The course is organized around the following topics:

  • Building Code & Preliminary Design
    • Schematic building design
    • Preliminary product selection
    • Local ordinances
    • Building codes and code analysis
    • ADA requirements
  • Specifications
    • Coordination of drawings and specifications
    • Organization of specifications
    • Typical formats for specifications
    • Procurement requirements: bidding and negotiation
    • Conditions of the contract: general and supplementary
    • Substitutions and warranties
    • Modifications to the contract
  • Plan Reading (construction drawings from the following categories):
    • Civil
    • Site
    • Architectural
    • Structural

Everything in this course will help in the preparation for the Construction Document Technology (CDT) Certification Exam offered by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Students will also be prepared to enter the work force able to contribute to creating a project manual for a variety of different building types. 

To learn more about what will be learned and how these skills will be used, listen to Waiting on Media Team by Nate Allen.

Course Objectives

  1. Learn how to read, interpret, and understand construction drawings and prepare with the various sheet categories, drawings symbols, and details used to effectively convey a building’s design intent.
  2. Become acquainted with building codes. Learn how to navigate the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC; for commercial buildings), and perform a building code analysis.
  3. Learn the four phases of creating construction documents and discover how building codes, accessibility, and local ordinances affect the outcome.
  4. Create a program and schematic design for a small office building.
  5. Learn and memorize the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) MasterFormat divisions, and understand the organization of specification sections.
  6. Understand the contractual obligations outlined in a building’s project manual.
  7. Become proficient in identifying product requirements for procurement, installation, and quality control included in a technical specification.
  8. Learn the proper procedures for communication between contractors, architects, and engineers for clarification and modifications to drawings during a construction project.


  • None.

Required Materials

  • A flash drive with at least 500 MBs available.
    • Data storage devices can be purchased from the University Store starting at $67.99 for 1TB of storage, but can also be purchased elsewhere at a lower cost. Do research to find the best price.
  • A stable and constant internet connection. Both Bluebeam and Revit require a stable connection.
  • Bluebeam software
    • Bluebeam will be used heavily in the class. A link is provided in Week 01 that will allow students to use Bluebeam Revu eXtreme during the semester. The license expires at the end of each semester. If students want to purchase the software, they can do so online.
    • If the student is an Associated Schools of Construction (ACS) competitor, they will receive a personal license for free.
    • System Requirements
      • Processor:  1 GHz processor or equivalent
      • RAM: 4 GB (32-bit Windows) 8 GB (64-bit Windows)
      • Hard Drive Space: At least 5 GB of available space may be required
  • Revit software (free)
    • Instructions are provided in the course on how to access this program. 
    • System Requirements
      • Processor: Single- or Multi-Core Intel® Pentium®, Xeon®, or i-Series processor or AMD® equivalent with SSE2 technology
      • RAM: 4 GB RAM
      • 5 GB free disk space


Do not purchase the textbook; the chapters that will be read are provided in this course.

  • Construction Specifications Writing: Principles and Procedures (6th Edition) by Harold J. Rosen, Mark Kalin, Robert S. Weygant, and John R. Regener Jr.
    • ISBN: 9780470380369
    • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Proctored Exams and Assessments

This course will use an online proctoring software called Proctorio. This makes it possible for students to take assessments and exams without a human proctor present. Proctored exams can be accessed like any other exam, once the software has been installed. Exams will be recorded by Proctorio and reviewed by the BYUI Testing Center. Any questionable exams will be forwarded to the instructor for further review.

For step-by-step instructions on Proctorio installation, please refer to this help guide article.

Instructional Methodology

This course is focused on helping students not only prepare with Construction Documents and recognize the concepts covered this semester, but truly master the material and understand how it all connects together. To succeed in this course, students will need to go beyond being familiar with the material; students will need to master the material. Because the field of architecture is so collaborative in nature, students will also practice working in teams.

Unit Structure

This course has four units.

  • Unit 1: Residential Plans (Weeks 01–03)
  • Unit 2: Project Planning & Design (Weeks 04–06)
  • Unit 3: Specifications (Weeks 07–09)
  • Unit 4: Commercial Plans (Weeks 10–14)

This structure allows students to really focus on one aspect of this course at a time and master the material before moving on to something new. The structure of the learning activities supports each different topic and helps gives students opportunities to master the material.

VDC 170 Open Lab

Architecture is one of the most collaborative fields of study. Research shows that working together and teaching each other is a powerful way to truly learn and retain information. This is also supported in gospel teaching and learning.  Students should take advantage of the opportunities to learn together and make new friends with their classmates.

Students have the opportunity to help each other succeed in this class in the following ways:

  • Small work groups (2–4 students)
  • A Help Central discussion board (whole class)
  • Weekly open lab sessions (with the instructor or class TA)

Group Discussion Boards: Each small work group will have its own discussion board to coordinate schedules and contact information. Use it to collaborate on assignments and work together. This is your group's private board. Use it to learn deeply together.

Each unit will have a Help Central discussion board where students should post their questions or answer those of classmates. Students should use this board often to ask questions and help teach others. The instructor and classmates will answer questions and help each other master the material as well.

Each week (W02–W14), the instructor and TA will offer several open lab times. They will use what is posted on the Help Central discussion board to determine what to talk about when meeting. When students attend, the instructor or TA will help them master the material by asking them to teach what they know and then helping them with what they don't. 

  • The instructor and TA will offer six open lab times during the week.
  • Students must attend an open lab (with either the instructor or TA) at least two times a Unit.
    • Students can attend as often as they need; the more they attend, the more exposure they will have to the material and to those who can help them.
    • Students should choose the time that works best for them. They may sign up to attend at the same or a different time each week.
  • At each open lab, students will have the opportunity to meet with an expert (the instructor or TA). These hour long Zoom meetings are a valuable opportunity for students to clarify any questions they may have had over the course of the week.
    • Students will also be able to teach one another and share valuable insights to aid in each others learning during these meetings.

Weekly Structure

Each week is structured to help students prepare, practice, and master the material covered in that week. Students will work together in small groups to complete specified activities each week and are encouraged to use their small groups to excel in the class.


Each week, students will prepare with the material. This may include the following activities:

  • Reading from the text book, related articles, or PowerPoint presentations
  • Watching instructional videos

Doing these things as early as possible in the week will allow students to have enough time to reflect on what they are learning and complete all the activities.


Each week, students will practice the concepts they learn. This may include the following activities:

  • Taking quizzes with multiple attempts allowed so they can learn from their misunderstandings
    • Some activities/quizzes will be completed in small groups
  • Completing practice assignments that will require them to apply what they are learning


Each week, students will show their mastery of the material. This may include the following activities:

  • Taking quizzes or exams to evaluate or prove their level of mastery
  • Completing individual mastery assignments
  • Completing group mastery assignments

Grading Policies

Late Work: It is expected that all work will be turned in by the due date.   Work will be accepted for three days following the time it is due with 10% deducted from the score for each day or partial day it is late.   Any exceptions to the late policy must be approved by the instructor prior to the deadline. 

Note: Fractional grades will be rounded up to the nearest whole percentage. The minimum required grade for a class to count towards the major is C-.

The final grade will be determined according to the following table:

Letter Grade Percentage Range
A 93–100%
A- 90–92%
B+ 87–89%
B 83–86%
B- 80–82%
C+ 77–79%
C 73–76%
C- 70–72%
D+ 67–69%
D 63–66%
D- 60–62%
F 59% and below

University Policies

Students with Disabilities

Brigham Young University-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at (208) 496-9210 or visit their website and follow the Steps for Receiving Accommodations. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with students and instructors by the Disability Services Office.

This course may require synchronous meetings. If you are currently registered with the Disability Services Office and need an interpreter or transcriber for these meetings, please contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator at (208) 496-9219.

Other University Policies

Student Honor and Other Policies

Please read through the document called University Policies. It gives important information about the following topics:

  • Student Honor
    • Academic Honesty
    • Student Conduct
      • Sexual Harassment
  • Student with Disabilities
  • Complaints and Grievances
  • Copyright Notice

Go to the Student Resources module to review further resources and information.


The instructor reserves the right to change any part of this syllabus at any time during the semester in order to adapt to changing course needs. You will be notified prior to any changes that may take place and will be responsible for those changes.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due