Thursday 27 October 2011

National BIM Library - progress report

The first release of the National BIM Library content set is progressing well. A draft set of content has now been put together and has been sent out for comment to a small set of collaborators. Next week, we will make this available for comment to those in our the National BIM Library group.

I include some screenshots below to show some progress. Our target date for publication is end of November 2011.

Internal Partitions
The screenshot below shows an IFC 2x3 file with a number of commonly pre-configured internal partitions. The materials within the partition may be seen to the left.

External Walls
A number of pre-configured external wall types are also included in the draft content. The screenshot below shows some of these.

Internal doors
In addition to the BIM objects, documentation will provided detailing the parameters and the behaviour associated with these.

External doors
A key driving factor behind the National BIM Library is interoperability. All content will be released in native CAD vendor format and IFC2x3. The example below is a demo building file viewed in the free Solibri Model Viewer. The panel to the bottom left shows the COBie2 parameters coming through in an example project.

Once this set of content is released then other objects such as windows, furniture, roofs, floors, sanitary ware will be developed. The content is being authored in Revit format, but then converted into IFC2x3 as a base data format. We hope that for launch we will include native content in another of other CAD formats too.

All content will be freely available to download, it will be written primarily for use in the UK market (see references to BS 8300 in screenshots above) and will be used as a starting point for those adopting BIM.

BIM in the old days

BIM = "High quality results are produced faster and more economically than by traditional techniques" - a strap line from 2011? No.

I was at a customer event earlier in the week and was flicking through some of the old copies of NBS 1973 (first edition). Anyone thinking that digital construction is something new to 2011 may be interested to see the following advert. (click for bigger images).

"Automated specifications" and "Computer bill of quantities" in the early 1970s!

"High quality results are produced faster and more economically than by traditional techniques"

Plenty of other nostalgic adverts too - a selection of three or four below.

Beautiful bedrooms

Beautiful buildings
Beautiful bathrooms
And one (hundred) too many needless pictures of young ladies with nothing to do with the construction product!

Also an extract from the front pages of NBS 1973

The idea of a National Building Specification began to crystallise in 1967 when the Economic Development Committee for Building agreed to finance a feasibility study. A steering committee was set up under the chairmanship of Anthony Laing FRIBA, and John Carter ARIBA was appointed to carry out the investigation and draft a report. This was completed in 1968 and outlined the principles that might guide the preparation of a National Building Specification. The Committee considered that the project was feasible and desirable, and that its preparation should be put in hand without delay.

The original NBS team had six architects, two quantity surveyors, a builder and a structural engineer.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

BIM Cartoons

Just finalising a BIM presentation for next Thursday's Howit Consultancy BIM Conference. Thinking of including some good cartoons I saw at the recent buildingSMART conference (Tahir Sharif buildingSMART ME).

I don't think they need a commentary, but illustrate the need to collaborate extremely well...

Thursday 20 October 2011

Fantastic BIM Job Opportunity

At NBS/RIBA Enterprises we are progressing on a number of fronts in terms of Building Information Modelling (BIM). Our new ground breaking NBS Create software, the digitalising of our manufacturer content and also the generic and proprietary content for the National BIM Library. To do this, we need to extend our team and we need someone special when it comes to BIM capabilities. If anyone knows of anyone based around Newcastle or London who is interested in the following job please forward them this information.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

ICE BIM Conference

Disappointed not to be at the ICE BIM Conference today.
But I must say I am very impressed by the amount of tweets coming from it. It allows all of those not there to keep up with the key snippets of information in real time.
Posting a hashtag at the start of any conference is an essential.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Web 2.0 for the Construction Industry

Today I attended the first of our two RIBA Insight Consultancy Day for manufacturers. In addition to speaking about BIM, I had the pleasure of listening to to "Web2.0 for the construction industry" presentations from Paul Wilkinson (@EEPaul) from and Pritish Patel (@PriteshPatel9) from

Some facts/points of interest from Paul's presentation:
  • 74% of UK homes now have broadband internet access
  • 27% of individuals in UK now have smartphones. In our conference, the show of hands was nearer 80% (construction industry folk)
  • Q4 2010 worldwide sales - 100m smartphones compared with 94m laptops
  • In terms of pushing your online video material - receives 19m unique UK visitors each year (correction  - 1 month - see comment below).
  • UK has the third most active Twitter population in the world
  • now has almost six million UK members. One third of all UK professionals.
  • Big decline in readership of printed construction news - and a shift to the web and a rise in new online media titles.
  • The importance of your hard copy PR/marketing and your online activity complimenting one another and sending a coordinated and consistent message
  • The importance of "thought leadership". So positioning your marketing and PR around key topics of interest in the construction industry
  • Don't be "anti-social" and know the "netiquette".
  • Authenticity is vital
And some more from Pritesh...
  • Each year Google changes its algorithm 500-600 times
  • Your Google rank is not fixed. It depends on who is searching, where in the world they are and what events are happening in the world.
  • An indication of how well your are promoting your company is how many people are Googling you - this can be monitored and tracked
  • 5 tips on getting good Google visibility: 1. Quality relevant information, 2. Promotion, 3. Get authoritive websites to link to yours, 4. Encourage visitors to share you content on social networks, 5. Measure your success and adjust efforts to improve.
  • Remember Youtube is second largest search engine - share your content through media such as this
  • SEO is not a 1 month project - it is forever ongoing
The final point discussed was the importance of getting your products and services promoted on the leading industry directories. So if you are an estate agent, ensure that your houses are on, if you sell cars, get your cars on In the case of construction products then there are a number of leading product directories, for example Being linked to on de-facto industry sites will further improve your Google index, standardise your product data for consideration by specifier and also cross promote your activities and services such as product information, catalogues, resources, case studies and CPD.

Two super presentations that make you analyse your own activities. If I had to try and draw three conclusions from my thoughts it would be:
  1. As a business concentrate on the quality of your original content and functionality and encourage others to promote this through their websites and social networks
  2. Embrace Web2.0 sites and make the most of them. Concentrate on Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, YouTube. my humble opinion, if you're in the construction industry - forget Facebook. (If you are promoting the latest TV show or pair of football boots then FB becomes #1 priority though).
  3. Don't concentrate *just* on the traditional desktop computer. The world is changing. What is your smartphone strategy?

UK BIM Adoption Doubles Within Twelve Months

For the last two or three weeks, results of our NBS National BIM Survey have been coming in.

Today at the RIBA Insight Consultancy Day for manufacturers I will be presenting for twenty minutes on BIM. As part of this presentation I will compare the results from the 2010 BIM survey and the provisional results so far from the 2011 BIM survey.

The headline figure is that, in the UK construction industry over the last twelve months BIM adoption has doubled. From 13% to 26%.

Watch out for our 2011 BIM survey that will give full analysis into all of the results. We will also look into what do construction professionals mean when they say they have adopted BIM. For now, you can download the report from the 2010 results at our website or by selecting the image to the right.

Update: What a great day. Nearly 100 manufacturers present. BIM evidently an extremely hot topic. Also very interested in listening to other presentations on CPD, specification and Web2.0 for construction industry. All to do again next Tuesday in London!

A couple of pictures from the excellent venue, the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

NBS Create - Prelims, Project Management and Costs

All of my blog posts to-date on NBS Create have been on the creation of a project specification and the functionality surrounding this. However, as with NBS Building and NBS Scheduler, NBS Create also allows the creation of contract preliminaries.

The first improvement with NBS Create is that sections may be added to your job prior to knowing what construction contract will be used. The screenshot below shows the New Job Wizard and sections such as "Project definition", "Works terminology" and "Works contract procurement" that are selected for addition from the start.
Fig 1 - New Job Wizard - sections common to all construction contracts

With the section editor, the experience is familiar to existing NBS specification users. A number of pre-written clauses are presented to the user and these can be completed with the assistance of technical guidance and suggested values.
Fig 2 - Section editor

Assistance is given to the user when selecting a contract. In the example in the screenshots below, the user has specified that the job is for a commercial client, in Scotland and there are contractor design portions. They are then offered a selection of contracts appropriate to this work.
Fig 3 - Assistance with selecting of the contract

Fig 4 - Relevant contracts are presented to the user

Once the contract is selected, all relevant sections are highlighted for addition to the job. The user may unselect any sections that they do not wish to add.
Fig 5 - The sections that are relevant to this contract

Another screenshot is included below to show the improved section editor from within NBS Create. All existing prelims behaviour is supported such as excluding clauses, adding user clauses, synchronised guidance and drop down suggested values. In addition to this, it is possible to quickly report on all reference documents and also it is easy to add office guidance notes and office drop down suggested values.
Fig 6- Completing the contract preliminaries and project management sections

One improvement with NBS Create that we believe will be very well received is the ability to include both project management sections and specification systems within the same document. This allows the project team to work on a combined single document. The screenshot below shows the content for the job all together. An advantage of this is that the cost consultant can see exactly what the design intent is for all of the systems in the job. This will help with team-working and also building-up informed cost estimations from an early stage. In addition, a single coordinated specification for the job can easily be published.
Fig 7 - Specification and project management content in the same document

At any time, the systems from within the job may be exported to a spreadsheet for use in the free Cost Tracking tool. The screenshot below shows an example export. The cost consultant is adding estimated costs against these systems based on the early outline descriptions provided by the designers. This tool may be used throughout the design phase and then the spreadsheets can be compared to perform a tender or a budget cost analysis.
Fig 8 - Costing the systems from the specification
NBS Create is launched next month with Engineering Services content. I'll continue to do monthly blog posts. If anyone has any topics they'd like me to cover - please add a comment to this article.

For all previous articles on NBS Create click the "NBS 2012" label.

To join our Beta Testing Program and help us develop this product, please see:

BIM Adoption Case Studies

Some insightful UK BIM adoption case studies now on
Studio Klaschka
Robert Klaschka, Principal Director, Studio Klaschka
"So what are we doing as a practice? Where is the business of BIM taking us?"

Laing O'Rourke
Dick Barker, Director, Laing O'Rourke, Head of Model Based Measurement and Costing.
"Due to the speed of response created by auto-measurement we are able to influence and inform the design as it develops with the knowledge of quantum and cost, not just measure and cost the design, which is often too late."

_Space Group
James Austin, BIM Leader, _space Group
"For the two year duration of Washington, two people ran the job, with two more joining during the early stages for just four weeks in a busy period. Compared with a constant four on the CAD project, rising to six or seven, this represented a significant increase in efficiency."

Ryder Architecture
Peter Barker, Architectural Director, Ryder Architecture
"We link our specification clauses to objects within the Revit model using a simple cross referencing method. This doesn't directly import data from the spec into the model, nevertheless it has created efficiency savings in change management during the design process."

David Light, BIM Manager, HOK London
"When discussing the topic of Building Information Modelling (BIM), people often ask me, 'So this BIM thing you describe, is it a shrink wrapped software solution?' Let me start by saying 'you can’t buy a box of BIM!'"

Thursday 6 October 2011

buildingSMART Singapore - All presentations from industry day

All of the presentations from the buildingSMART Singapore conference are now online and available to download:

A few comments against selected ones below - go to the hyperlink above to grab the presentations.
  1. William Lau - BIM-finitive Way to SMART Construction (1.25 MB)
  2. Grobler - BIM in the US (4.70 MB)
    A nice summary of buildingSMART and the openBIM case
  3. Joost - Open BIM in the Netherlands (19.6 MB)
    By all accounts, the Netherlands are going for openBIM and mandating it.
  4. Tahir - BIM in the Middle East (12.3 MB)
  5. Stephen Hamil - NBS (3.08 MB)
    The NBS-NLA with a little bit more on IFC, interoperability and the National BIM Library
  6. Inhan - BIM in South Korea (11.0 MB)
  7. Ben Thum - BIM and Buildability (11.4 MB)
  8. Silas Loh - BIM for QS (1.88 MB)
  9. Naveen - BIM for Retrofitting and Renovation (9.26 MB)
  10. Eugene Seah - Developing Singapore Standards (967 KB)
  11. Jim Forester - To BIMfinity and Beyond (8.16 MB)
    Was interesting to learn more about Newforma
  12. RSP - buildingSMART BIM Conference 21-09-11 (11.6 MB)
  13. LAZARUS - ARUP - BIM workflow (26.1 MB)
    See what Arup are up to
  14. Sophie - BIM use in M&E construction (10.9 MB)
  15. Woh Hup - From Design to Reality (26.0 MB)
  16. Tan Shao Yen - BIM in Multi-discipliunary project (1.20 MB)
  17. Cheng Tai Fatt - BCA BIM Roadmap (3.93 MB)
    How the Singapore government is moving to openBIM in construction

Tuesday 4 October 2011

COBie Master Class from Bill East

I recently wrote an article touching on what the COBie data format was:

For those wanting to watch a master class from Bill East on COBie then I would highly recommend the youtube videos below. There is a series of five videos that are linked from the first one.

And a few screeengrabs from it:

Screengrab 1 - The digital model sure looks pretty!

Screengrab 2 - But where is the information about the valves and pipes?

Screengrab 3 - And the entire HVAC system is in a single room the size of the building!

Screengrab 4 - how do we turn all of this paper into rich digital information?