Wednesday 22 December 2010

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

To those that have visited the blog this year - many thanks for your support. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all. A summary of what's gone on on the blog through 2010 is below.

Launching in January 2010 the blog has seen an increased number of visitors throughout the year. Key stats are over 2,000 unique visitors, 80 posts and ending the year on over 600 visitors per month.

The most popular posts were:
  1. Building Information Modelling (BIM) - 431 visitors
    An introduction to what BIM is and what benefits adopters are seeing.
  2. Using NBS with AutoCAD, Revit or Microstation - 409 visitors
    A walkthrough of how to export NBS project specification information to keynote format.
  3. Annotating ArchiCAD models from NBS - 290 visitors
    A tutorial video showing the NBS Link plug-in to ArchiCAD.
  4. NBS Domestic Specification - coming soon as an online product - 210 visitors
    The teaser post promoting the new specification product from NBS.
  5. Exporting NBS annotations to Vectorworks NotesManager format - 191 visitors
    A walkthrough of how to export NBS project spec info for use with Vectorworks.
The most common keywords that Google visitors found the site from most were:
  1. nbs archicad - 43 visitors
  2. nbs on the road - 22 visitors
  3. using both scheduler and building - 19 visitors
  4. bim conference - 18 visitors
  5. nbs software blog - 15 visitors
See you all next year in 2011. There'll be some nice new improvements to the NBS specification products to be blogged about. Please keep your comments coming to. Always great to read them.

New NBS work section I think for 2011-1 update - B19 Site made frozen water constructions

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Near future specification systems

My colleague from the NBS Technical Team John Gelder has written a super article on his vision for the next generation of specification systems. It was written for the latest NBS Journal. But can also be read on -

John Gelder, NBS Content Development Manager, looks at how near-future project specifications might differ from current project specifications.
Generally, we'll see that project specifications will be much smarter than at present, able to work much harder, whilst requiring less effort to produce and use.

When is this near-future? Some of what is described here could be available in a couple of years, some within five, and some will take longer. None of it depends on specifiers being expert in building information modelling. Provided the content and software developers get it right, you'll be using BIM without even knowing it!

Friday 3 December 2010

CIBSE BIM Conference

The winter weather did not manage to spoil the CIBSE BIM conference. Nearly all the delegates turned up which was good to see.
I’ll do a post on a couple of the presentations on the NBS BIM Blog in a day or two. But as a summary, it was good to see a range of presentations. Impressive case studies from Sam Collard from Laing O’Rourke and Dan Clipsom from Arup. Also, a very interesting presentation from Paul Coates from John McCall Architects discussing how they have successfully adopted BIM.
The delegates seemed interested in the NBS BIM Survey 2010 results and it was good to get the chance to speak at such an event. Keep tuned to for the release of this research paper in the next month or two.
Chairman Terry Wyatt thanks Sarah Graham from IES for her presentation

Anne King from BSRIA presents the findings from their conference earlier in the year

The snowy Clapham Common

Thursday 25 November 2010

NBS Domestic Specification - How it was developed

Last week NBS Domestic Specification was launched as the first ever online specification service from NBS.
I always like looking back at the original sketches and then comparing them to the live product. Below are the pencil sketches from the start of the year compared to the finished product released in November:

Fig 1 - Sign up

Fig 2 - The My Projects area

Fig 3 - Adding your work sections

Fig 4 - Editing your specification

Fig 5 - Publishing your specification

Thursday 18 November 2010

NBS BIM Survey 2010

On Thursday 2nd December I will be one of the speakers at the CIBSE BIM conference.
What BIM is and how it is being used
At NBS we are very interested in BIM and are looking to develop our specification data into a rich information model that can sit alongside the CAD model. We’re members of buildingSMART and the IFD project and currently have two research projects looking at regulatory compliance and carbon impact and cost.

We have recently sent out a survey to construction industry professionals to see how BIM is being used. We sent it to over 6,500 UK architects, quantity surveyors and engineers and were delighted to get over a 6% response rate.

At the conference I’ll present this research which will give an insight into:
  • How many people are using BIM today and what software packages are they using to support them
  • What aspects of BIM are people taking advantage of.
  • For those not currently using BIM, but who intend to, when do they expect to take their first steps into using it.
  • How do those using BIM within CAD connect this data to other information models such as specification, regulations and standards.
  • For those using BIM, what are their thoughts on interoperability and object reuse.
Our Market Research team at NBS are currently analysing these results and following the CIBSE conference we will publish these results and then run this survey annually to see trends.

Friday 12 November 2010

NBS Domestic Specification - Now Live

I am delighted to announce that our new online specification service NBS Domestic Specification is now live. Many thanks to all of the Beta Testers who've given us help pushing this over the finishing line over the last few days!

Below is an article I have written for the upcoming RIBA Practice Newsletter about this service...

Best practice specification for domestic projects – now online
By Stephen Hamil, Head of NBS Software Development
There are around 2,500 architectural practices in the UK with only one or two practicing architects. A large portion of their work is on small domestic building projects. In 2007 NBS Domestic Specification, a loose-leaf paper specification template for use on small domestic projects was launched. Following its success and customer feedback received, it has been developed into the first 100% online NBS specification writing service and was launched in November 2010.
The Benefits
NBS have been producing specification writing tools for over 35 years, which include products to suit projects varying in complexity. NBS Domestic Specification is a new tool designed to better address the needs of those working on small domestic buildings. It is ideal for domestic clients, professional designers and domestic builders, including home owners/occupiers who need to produce technically accurate and up-to-date specifications.
Building on the success of the paper edition, this new online version allows the user to quickly and easily produce a professional specification online that can be published as a PDF. It works on a PC or a Mac and there is no subscription or installation required – users simply buy each specification for £40 (plus VAT) as and when it’s needed for a project.
As with all electronic NBS specification products, NBS Domestic Specification is updated three times a year by our team of in-house technical authors, and provides onscreen guidance to help complete the specification.
How it works
You can create a new specification using NBS Domestic Specification in just six simple steps:
1. Login/register
Firstly login to or create an NBS Website Account. Creating your free account is a quick and easy process that asks you for a few standard details.
2. Create
Create a new specification and give it some project details such as a title, client name and project address.
3. Select
From the full list of preliminaries and work sections available, select the specific content you need for your project. The service can be used with JCT or SBCC minor works contracts and the JCT home owner contracts. You are provided with around 25 work sections which allow best practice specification for work on small domestic buildings. These include site preparation, board and sheet cladding, ventilation and heating systems.
4. Pay
Pay for your specification using our quick and secure payment facility.
5. Edit
The principles behind NBS Domestic Specification are the same as existing NBS products. Each work section contains pre-written technical specification clauses that you edit to produce a project specification. The clauses are pre-written, so very little typing is involved. Where clauses require completion, optional drop down values and technical guidance are provided. Where information is not required, you simply exclude it. The result is a precise project specification without the unnecessarily high page count.
General guidance with information on materials and design, including workmanship advice and tips on how to avoid pitfalls is provided for each work section.
You don't have to complete your specification in one go – you can save your work and come back at any time. In the meantime, you can trust NBS to securely look after your data.
6. Publish
At any time you can publish your specification to PDF format which you can then print, email or put on a DVD. The specification is a priceable document. It has cash columns, collections and a tender summary to allow the tenderers to clearly enter their prices.

Using NBS Domestic as part of my construction documentation will certainly assist me, particularly in ensuring that all elements of works are considered in preparation of documentation, yet providing me with a document tailored to the specific project in hand. It's pay as you require, is brilliant in assisting in keeping practice overheads down particularly in the current economic climatic.”
John Cloonan
Michael Ahearne & Associates Ltd

NBS have been responding to the needs construction industry for over 35 years, providing the best tools for producing up-to-date, technically robust specifications. NBS Domestic Specification is the latest specification writing solution from NBS, designed to meet the needs of practices in the UK who require a master specification service for small domestic building projects. It has received extremely positive feedback from beta testers and was very well received when launched at the RIBA Guerrilla Tactics 2010 conference.

To write your first NBS Domestic Specification visit:

Friday 5 November 2010

NBS and Autodesk Revit - Software Tutorial Video

There is now a software tutorial video showing NBS Building and Autodesk Revit interoperating.

It is titled NBS Specification Software - NBS Building and Autodesk Revit and can be found at the webpage:

Topics covered are:
  1. Annotating elements (windows) within Revit from NBS clause references
  2. Automatically generating schedules within Revit that reference the NBS keynote
  3. Annotating materials (brick, plasterboard, block, insulation) within Revit from NBS clause references
Fig 1 - The same objects exist in the CAD model and the spec model

Fig 2 - Generating a schedule from the CAD model and keynote references

Update (11/11/10):
Nice little mention on Simon Gillis's Autodesk blog thanks Simon!

For information on NBS interoperating with other CAD packages please see:

Thursday 4 November 2010

BSRIA BIM 2010 - My Thoughts

After spending the day at the BSRIA BIM 2010 Conference here are my thoughts on the key questions. Please leave comments to these opinions below.

1. Who owns the Building Information Model (BIM)?
  • (For the forseeable future) through the design and construction of the building there is not a single BIM owned by one project team member – there are individual BIMs owned by the project team members. For example, a CAD model in ArchiCAD owned by the architect, a CAD model in Revit owned by the engineer, a specification model in NBS format owned by the architect...
  • A single interoperable BIM (iBIM) may be created at any time and be used for reporting and analysis. There is no single ownership of this, it can be generated and used by a designer or the contractor.
  • At handover to the client an iBIM must be provided. This must contain the key information. The owner of this iBIM is then the client. At the conference Asda made this clear and Paul Morrell made this clear. They both said if you want to be designers/contractors for them then they own the BIM.
2. How can we make money from BIM?
  • “We” being the designers can make money through efficiency gains (existing design tasks – done faster - improved margin)
  • “We” being the contractors can make money through efficiency gains (scheduling, clash detection, more accurate costing - improved margin)
  • “We” being the clients can make money through more efficient/certain design and construction and then through the operating costs through the life of the building (sustainability/fm)
  • “We” being the software vendors and data providers can make money through the demand for BIM from the designers, contractors and clients
  • “We” being the manufacturers/suppliers can make money though increased usage of our products if in BIM format
3. How can we persuade clients that BIM is worthwhile?
  • We need more case studies showing value for money over the operation of the building
  • We need more case studies showing greater certainty in knowing what you are getting before it is built
  • And this should be a short term concern.  BIM will be the way buildings are designed, built and managed in the future – it will be a default expectation, not an option. But it will take significant work and investment to get us to this point.
4. What do we need to do to make BIM happen?
  • Bigger clients need to insist on it – great to see the likes of Asda and the Government moving on applying pressure
  • The government needs to fund software vendors and data providers to make the UK a leading force in this. BIM is happening, the UK construction industry must lead it and not follow years behind the Scandinavians and the Americans. "The UK construction industry must be equal if not better than any other in the world"
  • We have to create software that allows BIM to happen behind the scenes. Let engineers engineer and contractors construct – the software and structured content will take care of BIM without anyone knowing about it.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

BSRIA BIM 2010 - Paul Morrell

I attended the BSRIA BIM 2010 conference earlier today. Delegates and well known industry speakers debated key questions throughout the day.
The final speaker of the day was the government’s chief construction adviser Paul Morrell. He gave the same inspirational presentation that he'd delivered at the Autodesk conference a few weeks earlier, he then concluded by presenting his thoughts on the four key questions that had been debated.
Mr Morrell answered the questions from the point of view of BIM being used on government funded projects, my scribbled notes are below...
  1. Who owns the BIM?
    If the government is the client. And you want to work for the government. Then the government will own the BIM.
  2. How do we make money from BIM?
    By doing clash detection analysis on every job, by stopping information getting lost through the timeline, knowing what you are going to do before you begin - a zero change order contract.
    More money can be made for the designers and contractor through slightly better margins, more money made for the client through better value.
    If you don't do BIM and your competition do it, they will get better. They will attract better people. They will get even better. You cannot afford to let this happen.
  3. How do we persuade clients of the benefits of BIM?
    Asset management is the greatest benefit. How can you manage what you have got if you have no electronic record?
  4. What do we need to do to make BIM happen?
    There will be a five year plan published. Each year there will be a greater step towards BIM usage on government jobs.
I didn't catch all of the items that were to be in the five year plan, but the BIM that the government require will be non-proprietary and interoperable (i.e. not a [Insert name] CAD software model). There was a mention of Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) format being one of the initial requirements. This is of particular interest to a master specification company like NBS as this format is an asset record without full geometry.

I'll do a separate blog post summarising the day and my thoughts on these key questions. It was a really super day and I think everyone attending left feeling positive that BIM was really now taking off.

Download all of the presentations from the BSRIA website:

Building Information Modelling Hub at

The mini-site was launched today.
It will be a central resource where NBS will regularly publish guidance and information on BIM resources for the construction industry.

The site currently includes articles on BIM, a learning channels video with buildingSMART's Nick Nisbett, interviews with BIM experts such as Jacob Mehus from the IFD project and software tutorials on linking CAD and NBS.

Friday 29 October 2010

Building Information Modelling for Public Procurement

NBS welcomes the announcements made by Paul Morrell on the adoption of BIM for public procurement. We believe that the government has a key role to play in accelerating the adoption of BIM, as has been the case in Scandinavia and the USA. The industry should not see BIM as a Holy Grail which one day will arrive, but as an evolutionary road which we need to start on sooner rather than later.

BIM promises to initiate a step-change in the design, procurement, construction and maintenance of the built environment and is an inevitability - the industry must ensure that it is prepared for this.

However, the industry must not fall into the trap of seeing 3D CAD as BIM – it is much more than 3D modelling. The key here is rich information. This is more than geometric information from a CAD model. It might include performance, regulatory compliance, specification, embodied carbon, cost and many other pieces of data to achieve the real benefits a BIM has to offer. Software is the interface to a building information model, rich content is what populates it.

Significant investment will be made by software developers, publishers and other data providers to get to the stage where we can really unlock the true potential of BIM. At NBS, we are investing heavily in turning our specification and product information into digital objects in anticipation of the widespread adoption of BIM. This information will be at the heart of the process and efficiency improvements for the industry.

Decisions to support the adoption of BIM from government and other major clients are a welcome step forward. However, if we are to avoid the UK design, manufacturing and construction industries needing to play catch up in years to come, it requires at least the levels of investment seen in many other countries where BIM is already maturing as an enabling technology.

Thursday 28 October 2010

The BSRIA BIM 2010 Conference

I am fortunate enough to be chairing one of the tables at the BSRIA "BIM 2010" conference on Tuesday 2nd November.

Well known industry speakers will introduce four key questions about BIM. Delegates will discuss these amongst themselves and vote on what they see as the best way forward. The questions will cover:
  1. Who owns the Building Information Model?
  2. How can we make money from BIM?
  3. How can we persuade clients that BIM is worthwhile?
  4. What do we need to do to make BIM happen?
The delegates' answers will then be presented to Paul Morrell, Chief Construction Adviser. The conference will be chaired by John Lorrimer of Manchester City Council.  The speakers are David Sibbitt of Asda, Bill Price of Costain, Nick Deeming of Faulkner Brown, Mike Baker of Skanska and Richard Ward of Eversheds.

If anyone would like to comment on this post putting their points of view forward I'd be very interested to hear them.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

buildingSMART - Investing in BIM Competence

buildingSMART have just released a concise guide explaining how to get started with BIM and the potential benefits.
There are a number of interesting case studies in the publication:
  • St Helens and Knowsley hospitals - Information-sharing on a PFI hospital project
  • Endeavour House, Stansted - Repeat project offers opportunity for improvement
  • Festival Place, Basingstoke - Benefits of modelling for complex retail project
  • London hospitals project leading the way - Barts and Royal London hospitals
  • Heathrow Express and Terminal 5 - Use of a single model environment
  • Palace Exchange, Enfield - Collaborative working on a retail project
The press release promoting the publication is as follows...

Investing in BIM Competence  
A concise guide explains how to get started and the potential benefits 
BuildingSMART – the international alliance that promotes open standards and collaborative working – has published a concise guide to explain what is entailed in taking the BIM route and how ‘first off the block’ companies have benefited.
‘Investing in BIM Competence explains how to go about getting your business BIM-competent,’ said Christopher Groome, business manager, buildingSMART UK. ‘It explores the issues surrounding uptake – including people, process and technology – and is candid about the problems supply chain partners have to overcome and how to set about it.’
The author of the report spoke to people from different firms and disciplines in the industry to gain insights from their experience of Building Information Modelling. In this short qualitative survey of industry opinion, their answers indicate (among other things) the importance of top level management support, improved communication across teams, a range of soft benefits that are highly valued even though they are not quantified, and the effects on workflow patterns.
Anyone who has worked with BIM will be interested in comparing their experience. Six short case studies present examples of information sharing, from pioneering work done by BAA to the leading-edge approach employed on the Barts and Royal London hospitals project, now under construction.
‘Our vision at buildingSMART is one of a more sustainable built environment using tools such as BIM,’ said Mark Bew, chairman, buildingSMART UK. ‘At the same time, competence in BIM brings new business opportunities. I urge companies, whatever their size, to get involved and start realising the benefits. Take the first step by reading Investing in BIM Competence.’

Tuesday 12 October 2010

RIBA Guerrilla Tactics 2010 for Small Architecture Practices

This year's RIBA Guerrilla Tactics conference is partnered by NBS. The conference will take place on 17 - 18 November 2010 at 66 Portland Place, London.

The exciting news from NBS is that we will use this conference to launch our new NBS Domestic Specification product. NBS Domestic Specification is our first online specification product. As it works through any web browser it doesn't need you to install any software, you always use the latest data and it works on both a PC and a Mac.
Andrew Wilson, the NBS technical expert for small works and Alistair Findlay who has developed the software will be there for the conference and will launch the product as part of the CPD session "Best practice specification for domestic projects using online technologies".

Speakers at the conference include:
  • Ruth Reed, RIBA President
  • Kevin McCloud (from Channel 4's Grand Designs)
  • Paul Fletcher, RIBA Client Design Advisor
  • Angela Brady, RIBA President Elect

Thursday 7 October 2010

NBS at the Vectorworks 2011 Conference

I spoke at the Vectorworks 2011 Conference in London yesterday.
The presentation was in two parts. The first part gave a little bit of a history behind NBS and the benefits of using our master specification system. The second part of the presentation looked at using NBS project specification information within the Vectorworks Notes Manager system. A number of delegates spoke to me over lunch commenting on how they liked the development. The “Reconcile Notes” feature was particularly well received. The presentation can be downloaded by selecting the graphic below:

The Annotator component that allows the export of specifications to VW NotesManager is a free download from:

Almost half of the Vectorworks community are Mac users. At the end of the presentation the new NBS Domestic Specification product was discussed in the Q&A session. NBS Domestic Specification works through a user’s web browser so it works equally well on both PC and Mac. Over lunch I felt there was a real buzz about this product and must have received over ten business cards from Mac users requesting more information about this development.

Preview of NBS Domestic Specification functionality:

Scope of content of NBS Domestic Specification:

NBS Domestic Specification will be launched at the RIBA Guerrilla Tactics conference in November as part of the "Tools and Tactics" part of the CPD presentations:

Monday 4 October 2010

NBS at the RIBA Sterling Prize 2010

NBS were associate sponsors of the RIBA Sterling Prize 2010.

Now in its 15th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to the architects of the best new European building ‘built or designed in Britain’. The winner was announced at the RIBA Stirling Prize Dinner on 2 October, and broadcast live on BBC Two’s The Culture Show, presented by Kevin McCloud.

The winner was MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome and the architect Zaha Hadid.
2010 winning design

Before the event
Mr McCloud pictured with NBS QA Manager Clair Hillier

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Building Information Modelling - Presentations

I am speaking at two upcoming conferences on Building Information Modelling. Details below...

London Vectorworks Conference
6th October 2010
International Coffee Organisation, London

CIBSE - BIM: Who Benefits?
2nd December 2010, CIBSE, London
Chaired by Rob Manning the CIBSE President. Speakers from Arup and BSRIA and NBS (myself). And case studies from Fulcro and Laing O'Rourke.
Further details:

Thursday 16 September 2010

NBS Link featured at ArchiCAD Summer School 2010

The NBS plug in to ArchiCAD went down very well at the ArchiCAD Summer School 2010 at Nottingham last week. Around 60 people attended and many then had one-to-one sessions getting more detailed demonstrations of the software in action.The main features are the ability to create annotations from NBS clauses directly from within ArchiCAD. It is then possible to report, locate and correct any broken annotations prior to issuing your documentation. A video of this in action may be viewed at:

The pictures below shows Simon Gilbert from Graphisoft UK demonstrating to delegates.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

NBS Domestic Specification – Draft Scope of Content

Following my earlier post on the upcoming online NBS Domestic Specification service, one or two of you have asked for more information about the content that will be included.

The list below is subject to change - it is currently under review.

In terms of the Contract Particulars you can choose from either
  • JCT 2005 Minor Works Building Contract with Contractor's Design (MWD)
  • JCT 2005 Minor Works Building Contract (MW)
  • JCT Building Contract for a Home Owner/ Occupier who has appointed a Consultant to oversee the work (HO/C)
  • JCT Building Contract for a Home Owner/Occupier who has not appointed a Consultant to oversee the work (HO/B)
  • SBCC 2005 Minor Works Building Contract with Contractor's Design (MWD/Scot)
  • SBCC 2005 Minor Works Building Contract (MW/Scot)
The choice of work sections is from the following, depending on the scope of your project:
  • A9 General technical requirements
  • D1 Site preparation
  • E1 Concrete foundations and floors
  • F1 Masonry walling
  • G1 Packaged frames and structural steelwork
  • G2 Structural timber and general carpentry
  • H2 Board and sheet external cladding and soffits
  • H6 Slate and tile pitched roof coverings and cladding
  • J1 Flat roof coverings
  • K1 Wood internal flooring, linings and trim
  • L1 Windows, roof windows and patent glazing
  • L2 Doors and frames
  • L3 Stairs and guarding
  • M1/2 Plastering, rendering and screeding
  • M4/5 Sheet and tile internal finishes
  • M6 Painting, staining and varnishing
  • N1 Appliances and fittings
  • Q1 Landscape
  • R1 Above and below ground drainage
  • S9 Hot and cold water systems
  • T9 Heating systems
  • U9 Ventilation systems
  • V9 Electrical systems
In terms of the content of each work section, as an example, the clauses in the work section F1 Masonry walling include:
  • System Outline
  • Masonry walling
  • 110 External cavity walling
  • 115 External cavity dwarf walling
  • 120 External solid walling
  • 125 External masonry cladding
  • 130 Internal cavity walls
  • 135 Internal solid walls
  • 140 Sleeper walls
  • Work to existing walling
  • 145 Junction with new walling
  • 150 Openings in existing walling
  • 155 Cavity tray and dpc insertion
  • 160 Cavity insulation insertion to existing walling
  • 165 Masonry walling removal
  • 170 Repoint existing walling.
  • Products
  • Masonry units
  • 302 Common bricks
  • 304 Facing bricks
  • 306 Reclaimed bricks
  • 308 Aggregate concrete blocks
  • 310 Aerated concrete blocks
  • 312 Manufactured stone blocks
  • 314 Natural stone rubble
  • Mortars
  • 316 Mortar
  • Concrete
  • 318 General concrete
  • Wall ties
  • 320 Plain wall ties
  • 322 Insulation retaining wall ties
  • 324 Remedial wall ties
  • 326 Timber frame wall ties
  • 328 Wall starters
  • Cavity trays and dpcs
  • 330 Flexible cavity trays
  • 332 Gas retardant cavity trays
  • 334 Preformed cavity trays
  • 336 Preformed remedial cavity trays
  • 338 Flexible dpcs
  • 340 Flexible insulated dpcs
  • 342 Chemical dpcs
  • Cavity insulation and cavity closers
  • 344 Full fill cavity insulation
  • 346 Partial fill cavity insulation
  • 348 Remedial cavity insulation
  • 350 Plastics insulated cavity closers
  • Ventilation components
  • 352 Air bricks
  • 354 Sub-floor ventilation ducts
  • Lintels
  • 356 Manufactured stone lintels
  • 358 Precast concrete lintels
  • 360 Proprietary metal lintels
  • 362 Steel lintels
  • Sills
  • 364 Manufactured stone sills
  • 366 Natural stone sills
  • 368 Precast concrete sills
  • Flashings built into masonry
  • 370 Lead apron flashingsw
  • 372 Lead cover flashings
  • 374 Lead step and cover flashings
  • Execution
  • Masonry walling
  • 610 Laying brickwork and blockwork
  • 615 Laying rubble stonework
  • 620 Laying concrete cavity fill
  • 625 Bedding masonry wall ties
  • 630 Fixing timber frame wall ties
  • 635 Laying horizontal dpcs
  • 640 Laying vertical dpcs
  • 645 Laying cavity trays
  • 650 Laying gas retardant cavity trays
  • 655 Placing full fill cavity insulation
  • 660 Placing partial fill cavity insulation
  • 665 Forming perpend joint weep holes
  • 670 Setting ventilation ducts in cavity walling
  • 675 Laying leadwork
  • Work to existing walling
  • 680 Removing masonry units
  • 685 Pocket bonding new walling to existing
  • 690 Forming openings in existing masonry
  • 695 Installing chemical dpc
  • 700 Installing cavity insulation in existing walling
  • 710 Repointing masonry walling
And an example of the typical clause content is below:

In terms of the named “NBS Domestic Specification”, this has been chosen because it has primarily designed with the expectation for use on small domestic projects. Clearly, if anyone thought this content is suitable for one of their simple, small scale, commercial refurbishment projects then they would be welcome to use the service for this.

And finally, here is a picture of an NBS specification product working on an Apple Mac :)

Thursday 9 September 2010

RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter - Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Nice to see the shortened version the article Building Information Modelling appearing in the recent RIBA Chartered Practice Newslette:

buildingSMART Summit Week - Day Four

Day one | Day two | Day three
My final day at Denmark was spent at the International Framework for Dictionaries (IFD) Group Workshop. IFD compliments IFC by allowing the creation of detailed international property sets for construction products. The definition of these property sets gives two very clear benefits:

  • The ability for manufacturers to add their product data against these generic definitions. This allows the designer to describe a desired construction product and then to be presented with a list of manufacturer products that comply with this description.
  • The ability to translate product descriptions between languages. When a construction team may not all speak the same language then the ability to translate building documentation is vital. For example, the specification could be translated from Norwegian to Danish or from Spanish to Dutch.

NBS are keen observers of the IFD project and it was fascinating to see these developments and how they are currently being implemented. Jacob Mehus from Standards Norway was the main speaker and the Norwegians are clearly one of the global leaders in this field.

There are three basic rules to those adding content to the IFD library:

  • Content may only be added for your own country – the experts in their own nation
  • All content must have “definition” – for example, this product being described is an ifcwindow
  • All data entered must be in International English as well as the author’s native language – this allows the translation aspect of IFD

Some nice examples of IFD being implemented and used in Norwegian software applications at the moment were presented in the afternoon. SmartKalk is calculation software that allows costs to be added to an IFC model that utilises IFD. The Catenda IFD based knowledge based search is a smart phone application that allows electricians to quickly search regulations in an intelligent way. The search returns give the words context and a list of parts. So if you search for bathroom – you get “wetroom” as a context and “bath”, “mirror”, “shower tray” as suggested parts.

The IFDSignOn project is particularly interesting and is similar in a way to RIBA Enterprises NBS Plus service. This is 30% government funded and it will be used from day one when launched by the Norwegian Defence Agency that clearly has huge purchasing power. It is expected that manufacturers will be very keen to get their data into the service. The manufacturer data is matched to the IFD requirements and then the product is specified. This is to be released in 2011.

At the end of the session there was a sharing of developments around the table. Really nice to hear what is happening in countries such as Denmark, New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Green Lighthouse Copenhagen - Carbon Neutral Building

Today we were shown around the Green Lighthouse Building. This is Denmark's first "carbon neutral" public building. The roof is tilted at the optimum angle for the sun and the energy generated goes to the heating and the electrics required by the building. A state-of-the-art heat pump system stores energy in an underground reservoir on the hot days, then uses this energy on the cold days. The building meets the 2020 ambitions for zero energy buildings and is expected to receive a gold certificate from the LEED.

The Green Lighthouse Building

All solar panels are hidden from view on the flat roof

Promotional picture from above

Diagram showing the technology behind the building

A nice south facing terrace for your lunch!

The central staircase

buildingSMART Summit Week - Day Three

The third day of the buildingSMART Summit week started at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology. The first presentation was from Nicklas Ostergaard from the social network BIM site – this is based on the principles of Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn of getting people together on the web who are interested in the same subject. The site has many BIM downloads, a wiki area and a discussion forum. After one year, the site already has over 2,000 members of which 200 sign on each day.

The second presentation was from Morten Steffensen from the Danish Authorities (I had met Morten earlier at the week when we sat on the same table at the bips conference dinner). The Danish Authorities are taking BIM seriously and have published a declaration of 10 ICT demands in state construction, these include: (a) Use of a single project extranet, (b) BIM to be used in competition, (c) BIM to be used in construction, (d) Digital tendering and (e) a BIM handed over to owner for FM. These demands are for all state projects, all building projects above 3m DKK. There was discussion as to how this should be enforced. Another project discussed was an automated submission of a BIM model for part of the building regulation approval.

The afternoon's venue - a beautiful 150 year old Danish building 

Leon van Berlo from presented an open source BIM Server. This is partly funded by the Dutch government and industry and may be downloaded and customised for free. Leon mentioned that their nearest competitor charges €150,000 per year. IFC is used as the file format for exchange, it includes a free online BIM viewer and has a Revit plug-in that means that you don’t have to do the import/export to IFC each time you change the model.

James Harty from the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA) gave a very inspiring presentation on BIM. One case study he gave was comparing the Walt Disney Concert Hall that came in five times over budget compared with the Guggenheim Building which through the use of BIM came in 18% under budget. With the Guggenheim project they passed over the BIM at tender and this resulted in very accurate pricing with only a 1% spread across all of the submissions. At KEA they are teaching the students Revit for BIM then Sigma for quantities and then MS Project for scheduling. They then use Navisworks to look at all three through a common BIM. The aim is that the KEA graduates will become some of the BIM managers of the future.

Our time at KEA came to an end with a tour of a recent building built using BIM technologies, the Green Light House Copenhagen. This was the first carbon neutral Danish Authority building built in 2009. See Green Light House Copenhagen blog post for further information and pictures.

The panel face questions from the audience during the afternoon session

On the afternoon Patrick McLeamy chairman of buildingSMART gave a super talk. Patrick was one of the founders of buildingSMART. The focus of the talk was on the importance of BIM in facility management. Patrick stated that $1 spent in design equates to $20 in construction which then turns into $60 in life cycle operating costs. The importance of the BIM getting passed through design to construction to operation was stressed. Building Information Model to Building Assembly Model to Building Optimised Operating Model. BIM, BAM, BOOM! Patrick’s final point was that if you are going to be paid to design-build-operate a large facility for 30 years – you absolutely have to make a good job on the design and the build side of things.

The Copenhagen Museum of Arts

There was a quite memorable quote from Diderik Haug, Statsbygg, Norway to end the day, “It is much easier, quicker and cheaper to fix a clash detection in a BIM than in the concrete on site”.

Nice little mention on Planet Vectorworks

The recent enhancements to Annotator, part of the NBS Tools, gets a nice little mention on Planet Vectorworks...

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Ramboll Head Office - Copenhagen

As part of the buildingSMART Summit Week we were given a guided tour of the new Ramboll Head Office building in Copenhagen. We were made really, really welcome, were given a tour and then over a beer and some food their engineers explained to us how they had utilised BIM throughout the project from design, through construction and then will continue to use BIM as part of the facility management. Amazing stuff.

I took some picture on the tour...

Logo at the entrance

Breathtaking flights of stairs going through the centre of the building

Grand piano in reception

Maximum use of glass to give light and transparency

The view from the fifth floor

Each meeting room has an IPad displaying the day's schedule

The sun sets to end another day in Denmark