Tuesday 14 March 2023

NBS Journal 2002 - Edition One

I'm a collector of NBS items from the past (see all posts tagged 'History') so when I found this NBS Journal Edition One from 2002 I thought I'd photograph a couple of the pages.

The first page is the introduction from John Gelder who was leading the NBS content's team work at the time around restructuring CAWS to Uniclass. Interesting looking back at the areas of content that John wanted to focus on in the Journal (in the days where a magazine style publication was preferred over web delivery).
(Click image for larger view)

The interview in the first NBS Journal was with Professor Steve Lockley, who was my boss at the time, on his views on where the NBS software would go in the future. How would we move on from SpecMan? How would the internet change things? Would construction information be 'modelled'?

Thursday 14 April 2022

Pop over to linkedin to view most recent blog posts

I've been posting to this blog for a number of years now.

More recently, I've found myself posting more regularly to linkedin.

Why? I find the engagement with NBS customers is a little better on linkedin - more interactions and comments. Also, it allows new posts to be discovered in the newsfeed that many NBS customers use every day.

So, for new blog posts for me (at least for now). Jump across to...


Thursday 16 December 2021

NBS Chorus and user created content

How best to add user defined clauses within NBS is a question I quite often get asked when speaking with specifiers. I thought it may be worth doing a short blog post that looks at this for both section-based and system-based content structures.

1. Section-based content

'Section-based content' is pretty much any content that is not Uniclass 2015 technical specification content. So this includes UK CAWS, Aus content such as Speedpack and Specpack and also the Canadian CMS and NMS content.

To add a new user clause, this can be done from the 'three dot' menu to the left in the editor. Then the new clause can be given a number, a title and spec content can be added.

Note that for some content sets the number will be automatically applied. For the UK CAWS content (or UK Uniclass 2015 PM content) a number must be added to determine the position in the section.

Insert new clause

Add a clause number, title and add your specification content

To add an entirely new section, this can be done by searching for 'template' in the 

Search for 'template' content
A new template section will be added to the specification/prelims

Add the content that you would like to add

2. System-based content 

The 'system-based' content is more complex as each clause can have multiple parents or multiple children and these clauses are linked together.

So a partition system clause and a ceiling system clause may both have links to a child plasterboard clause.

Adding user clauses is not something that we currently have a smooth process for and this functionality is not yet planned in on our roadmap. There are two workarounds however that are highlighted below: 

The main workaround is currently to find an NBS template clause and amend to suit.

Find a clause that is similar

Amend the title to suit

The second workaround is more complex - but more powerful.

A question I have been asked four of five times by different practices this year is:

How can I add a user clause in front of multiple systems as an introduction to the 'work package'?

The trick here (for now) is to import user clauses from an NBS Create desktop specification file - and then amend when in Chorus.

A downloadable NBS Create specification with template user clauses can be downloaded from the link below:

Step 1 - Upload the NBS Create specification to Chorus to create a template spec/master...

User clauses from Create within Chorus as a template/master

Step 2 - For every user clause needed - copy and paste from this template/master into the project

Copy to a project spec

 Step 3 - Remove all unnecessary content and edit to add the required content

Edit the clause

The finished clause

Step 4 - Reference this clause from any relevant system

Reference the user clause

If the user clause is a 'system clause' it will appear alphanumerically within the parent system

Step 5 - Choose the 'grouped systems by code' option on the publishing

The end result: A user clause introduction to a package of systems

Wednesday 20 October 2021

NBS Digital/BIM Report 2021

The NBS Digital Construction Report is now in its second decade. It was published last week and is available at the interactive website below:

This blog post looks at some of the findings. But before looking at the finals, a quick note to thank a large number of industry leading organizations that help us distribute our surveys within the industry.

Partner organizations and our chosen charity

The first section of the report looks at BIM in general. The most fascinating areas of this analysis for me are always the questions looking beneath the headline of 'have you adopted BIM?'. A lot of the industry defines BIM in different ways, so specifically asking about use of EIRs, responsibility matrices, classification, following standards always gives a better picture.

Under the headline figures
The above chart shows that the principles within the 19650 series of standards are starting to be followed in terms of revision control, naming conventions, indication of suitability and classification. Looking just at the UK, use of Uniclass 2015 is now at 50% on 'BIM projects', but lower at 39% across the wider worldwide participants.

The second part of the survey looked more at technology.

Technology advances

The above chart shows that cloud computing is now dominant. Other findings in the report showed how much the COVID crisis had accelerated digital working and new 'work anyway' working practices. In terms of wider new construction technology - half of participants had been involved in a project using offsite techniques.

The rising star at the bottom end of the scale was Digital Twins. I consider this a little similar to 'BIM' as a bit of a catch-all phrase. Technology within a building around access control, intruder detection, CCTV, wifi hotspots has had an element of 'digital twin' for many years now. How much real time digital feedback do you need before you tick the 'digital twin' box? And will we get back into the 3D visual model debate again?

The final section of the report looks at the wider industry.

Where will you be working?
Only one in five participants expect to go back to 'normal' in the next five years. We're undoubtedly in a period of change.

Thanks to everyone that took part in the survey - over 900 - and thanks to the increasing number of participants from around the world that clearly are aware and appreciate the work NBS do in this area.

One third of participants are from outside of UK now
To find out more - check out the full report at:

To take part in our latest survey on sustainability and the construction industry - please do so below:

Friday 15 October 2021

NBS, Byggfakta Group and Nasdaq

Today (15th October) marks the first day of trading for our parent Byggfakta Group on the Nasdaq Stockholm.

Ref: BFG
Press release: First day of trading

This marks another huge step on the NBS journey which has been quite a ride. Reflecting on some key dates...

NBS (The National Building Specification) was first published.

The NBS presents architects, structural engineers and quantity surveyors with a unique opportunity to re-appraise and develop their specification practice. The benefits will come to them and to the industry as a whole in the form of better and more efficient building.
Chairman of NBS Ltd, Sir Robert Matthew

More info: https://constructioncode.blogspot.com/2010/02/1973.html

September 2002
The team that wrote the software for NBS (a small research centre that I was part of) was brought into the NBS family (RIBA Enterpries). We all moved down from Newcastle University and were then part of the wider company. 

More info: https://constructioncode.blogspot.com/2019/09/twenty-years.html

June 2018
LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, joined the RIBA as a significant shareholder of NBS.

Press release: https://www.thenbs.com/about-nbs/press-releases/riba-and-ldc-partner-to-support-the-future-growth-of-nbs

November 2020
The LDC and RIBA chapter of our growth ended and NBS became part of the Byggfakta Group - backed by Stirling Square and TA Associates.

Press release: https://www.thenbs.com/about-nbs/press-releases/nbs-joins-byggfakta-to-bolster-growth  

October 2021
Byggfakta Group (including NBS, Glenigan and CIS Ireland) goes on the Nasdaq Stockholm.

Press release: https://mfn.se/a/byggfakta-group/first-day-of-trading-in-byggfakta-groups-shares-on-nasdaq-stockholm 

Name up in lights :)

So, exciting times - with complementary businesses in the group now across North America, Europe, Australia and SE Asia - we now have the amazing opportunity to digitally connect the specification, product, tendering and project data world together!

Thursday 7 October 2021

NBS and Sustainability

It's clear that how to create a more sustainable built environment is one of the key challenges facing the industry today.

The UK and other developed nations must lead by example. Within the UK, organizations, such as NBS, that have influence over thousands (millions?) of specification decisions made each day on large construction projects must support the industry overcome this challenge.

Well over 3,000 design practices subscribing to NBS to specify the nations infrastructure (schools, hospitals, offices, train stations etc... ). Well over 1,000 construction manufacturers work with NBS to publish their technical information - which, in turn, is used in specifications. Small changes we can make will result in huge changes across the country.

In this blog post I'm highlighting three areas where we are trying to make a difference...


Our NBS webinar series continues to be a huge success. But one of the webinars we hosted that had the most attendees (over 1,000!) was our joint webinar with the RIBA (Gary Clark HOK) on sustainable outcomes and the RIBA Plan of Work. This is still available on demand at the link below:

Throughout October 2021, leading up to COP26 we have a series of webinars on sustainability. Sign up for these now below (or watch on demand once October has past):

We are also running our sustainability survey now (throughout Q4 2021) - please click the link below to take part and then be one of the first to receive a copy of the final report.

2. Product development

The NBS specification content we research and maintain allows for sustainable outcomes to be specified on projects. The article below gives specific examples against each of the RIBA sustainable outcomes that are aligned to the UN sustainable development goals.
- https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/using-nbs-to-specify-sustainable-outcomes-on-projects

Brief examples of specification templates and guidance in NBS relevant to sustainable outcomes includes:

  1. Operational carbon - Heating and cooling systems - in addition to the essential building fabric systems
  2. Embodied carbon - Responsibly sourced timber and reusing and recycled materials.
  3. Water usage - SUDs, reclamation, hot and cold water supply and sanitaryware
  4. Connected travel network - Cycle lanes, cycle storage, EV charging points
  5. Biodiversity - Meadows, bird boxes, green roofs
  6. Health and wellbeing - Daylight strategy, natural ventilation, office layouts
  7. Community - Playgrounds, landscape, contractor schemes and third party verification
  8. Sustainable operation - Comprehensive system completion specification content - especially important to successful operation of MEP and ensuring 'soft landing' and reducing the 'performance gap.
Over and above our generic content, we encourage the manufacturers we work with to publish their environmental credentials in terms of associated literature (certifications) and technical data such as country of origin, % recycled content and embodied carbon.

3. Practice what you preach

We recognise that the biggest impact we can have is positively influencing design and specification decisions our customers will make on some of the largest construction projects in the UK * through encouraging sustainable decision making within our products and through using our platform to help with education. However, we need to practice what we preach too.

For this reason, we have signed up to the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative. Through this, we now (a) measure our impact as a business, (b) analyse what we could do better, (c) put into practice initiatives on how to reduce our impact and (d) report on this annually.

Our annual report may be downloaded below:

Furthermore, at NBS we are now part of the much larger Byggfakta Group of companies operating around the world. My NBS colleague Lee Jones has been key in terms of developing the sustainability approach at a group level and more on this approach is at the URL below:

Some of the NBS team on our recent cycle out in County Durham planting trees

* Due to current market profile of the majority of NBS customers, this blog post mentions 'in the UK' - but of course UK architects and specifiers use NBS for projects around the world (Africa, Middle East, South East Asia in particular) and we have rapidly growing businesses in Canada and Australia too.

Friday 3 September 2021

Digital Construction Podcasts

If you have 30-45 minutes in your day where you like listening to podcasts then some recommendations below...

Firstly a plug for Nathan Hildebrandt's Digital Transition podcast series. Nathan's just kicked off his second series with a chat with myself looking at digital construction and specification around the world. Nathan has been instrumental in organizing BILT events around the world and his series of podcasts has brought together speakers from North America, Europe and Australia exploring digital construction.

To listen to my conversation with Nathan check out the link below:


To check out the back catalogue that includes some great content see:


The second set of podcasts to point to are those put together by my colleague Paul Swaddle.

The speakers have been hand picked by Paul as he speaks to industry leaders about topics such as information management, education, business strategy, leadership and sustainability. Listen now to these NBS podcasts:

Tuesday 3 August 2021

NBS - August 2021 Update

 Monthly update below...

Links from everything mentioned in the video below...

- Register now for the NBS Autumn Summit:


- Find out more about Chorus Pro:


- Watch a preview of the new Organization Notes feature:


- Watch our 'on demand' webinars - Chorus Pro intro and our July panel discussions


- Find out more about NBS Source