Wednesday, 18 April 2012

NBS Create - Specifications from each discipline throughout the project timeline

I've been demonstrating NBS Create a little bit recently and it's fantastic to see the software now with all of the content libraries. This now means quantity surveyors, architects, service engineers, structural engineers and landscape architects can all work on specifications in the same way throughout the project timeline. Some screen-shots below to demonstrate this (click on the images for a bigger view).

Update - see my recent article on

1. Project Management
The first screenshot below shows (what could be) the quantity surveyor working on the project management content. The section open is Works Contract Procurement and a clause detailing tender requirements is being edited. It should be noted that certain sections can be written prior to the contract being chosen and other sections are relevant to the specific contract and procurement method (traditional, partnership, design and build...).

2. Architecture
The screenshot below shows what could be an architect specifying an Internal Partition System from the architecture library. What is worth pointing out here is that the clauses shown are to do with the overall performance requirements of the system in terms of structural, acoustic and fire performance. The user can now use NBS to write true performance specifications without specifying the materials. This is perfect for contractor-led design procurement where the client wants certainty on performance.

3. Service Engineering
NBS is not just about architecture, but since 2003 we have had a dedicated internal team of construction professionals that publishe mechanical and electrical engineering content. The screenshot below shows an Intruder Alarm System. The clauses on display are specifying the requirements upon system completion by the contractor. This details how the system performance will be tested and what spares/maintenance are required.

4. Structural Engineering
For the first time, NBS now has a dedicated structural content library. The screenshot below shows a Reinforced Concrete Foundation System and the clauses on display are specifying the workmanship that is required in terms of laying and testing the concrete. As always with NBS, the latest standards and references are cited and these are maintained by the NBS technical staff.

5. Landscape Architecture
The final screenshot shows landscape architecture content. On display is the manufacturer products that have been specified to complete the slab paving system. It goes without saying that on top of the performance, completion and workmanship content, at the end of the day it is construction products that are finally installed. The visual view of the specification editor shows the relationship between the clauses. Also on the display is the detail that a specifier can go to. Not only are the natural stone slabs and other main products specified, but also the smaller products such as herbicides and even skateboard deterrent studs( :) !).

So, it's a product we're all very proud of. Whether it is used on a project just by one design professional to produce a traditional tender specification, or by the whole project team write their specifications from "outline" to "as-built" - we believe it is a specification system that will truly revolutionise specification writing in the UK.

Further reading:


  1. You mention collaboration - and that the content is web based - but does the spec document live in the cloud? How does collaboration work in practice?

    Any news on a Mac version? We can't collaborate with anyone until it arrives...

  2. Hi Chris,

    The specification document lives on the local machine (like a traditional ArchiCAD or Revit file would do).

    The NBS library content is delivered using web services - so whenever content is added to a specification or guidance is viewed - its always the latest version.

    We do not have a native version of NBS Create on the Mac (Parallels/Virtual PC is the only option here). The only specification product we currently have that works natively on the Mac is NBS Domestic:

    We're currently looking at extending NBS Domestic to cover small works content and not just domestic.

  3. Collaboration would benefit from you hosting the documents on a spec server, with sections booked out/in, and with comment/markup facilities. Collaboration with local documents will be limited to emailing different versions around, and markup done by printing, felt pen and scanning back in?

    A spec server with platform neutral web based access would appear to be the ideal. Tying the spec in to models hosted on BIM servers would be possible this way too.

  4. Chris,

    You are describing Level-3 BIM on the Bew-Richards wedge.

    All the project team members using their various software tools working off a central coordinated model.

    Love it. But suspect it may take a few more years of hard-work from lots of people.

  5. Yeah, OK it's a big ask, but what I fail to see with the current offering is something that will "truly revolutionise specification writing in the UK". I think NBS Create is more evolutionary...