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:

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:

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

Press release:

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:  

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

Press release: 

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.

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

Saturday 31 July 2021

Uniclass 2015 to CAWS system and product mappings/relationships spreadsheet

 A few folk on social media have been asking if there are any mappings available between Uniclass 2015 and CAWS.

A spreadsheet with a number of relationships (not necessarily perfect 'mappings') can be downloaded from the link below:

The blog post below describes a bit more where this data comes from and why these sort of relationships will never be one-to-one (unfortunately):

Introduction from the first worksheet in spreadsheet copied and pasted below. A couple of screenshots further down too.

V1.0 - Generated 15th June 2021


1. This set of Uniclass 2015 to CAWS relationships was produced by looping through all of the manufacturer systems and products listed in the NBS Source platform.

2. As manufacturer product listings in NBS Source are positioned against a primary Uniclass 2015 classification and CAWS clauses then it is possible to report on each of these relationships.

3. If a system or product classification does not have a manufacturer listing in NBS Source then no relationship is provided.

For example, there is no Pr_60_60_08_59 Oil-fired steel shell boilers products in NBS Source - so there is no relationship provided for this item.

4. Only systems and products are considered as part of this automated routine - so NBS clause content for preliminaries, system performance, execution or system completion is out of scope.

5. Disclaimer - This spreadsheet is meant as a free download to help inform industry - it should be considered 'beta' and the data should be tested before using. Feedback is welcome.


Use the filters to get to the information you want (nearly 15,000 rows of info!)

Once filtered the relationships can be bettered focused in on

...and to find out more about NBS Source, feel free to have a read through this article:

Friday 9 July 2021

NBS - July 2021 Update

 July update from myself below...

Useful links below

1. Support around the retirement of our desktop products:

2. Article and webinar looking at Chorus and Source integration:

3. Financial summary export for projects of a more simple nature

4 Keynote export for those that cannot use our plug-ins

5. NBS Chorus case study featuring ADAM Architecture

6. Watch over 50 webinars 'on demand' and sign-up for upcoming events

Friday 2 July 2021

Export to Keynote for NBS Chorus

Another feature was released in NBS Chorus this week, the ability to export a Keynote file from the specification.

The NBS recommended method of coordinating model and specification information is through our plug-ins for Revit, Archicad and Vectorworks. This allows to design and write specifications in the same workspace, to read the guidance and to 'clash check' the annotations.

However, through our forums, we recognise that not all customers are using versions of design tools that support plug-ins and they would like to simply export the information from the specification into a 'Keynote' style file so they can annotate items in their drawings.

The screenshots below show how this is now possible. Please click the screenshots below to see the images in more detail.

A project specification with different types of window (WNS-001, WNS-002...) 

Export the clause details to a Keynote text file

Annotate the drawings with the correct specification reference

To find out more about NBS Chorus see:

Thursday 24 June 2021

Financial summary and NBS Chorus small works

When specifying on small works projects where the contract does not support the use of bills of quantities then it can be useful to create a financial summary based on the content of the specification (see article on our website for further reading).

This financial summary can be used for a number of purposes.

  • Prior to tender - to break down any cost estimate to the client
  • Prior to construction - to compare tenders
  • Prior to completion - to assess valuations and as a base of agreeing the price of any variations
Figure one shows how to generate a Financial Summary from NBS Chorus:
(Click the images below for larger versions)

Figure 1 - Generating a Financial Summary from NBS Chorus 

In Figure 2 below, it can be seen that each section in the specification is listed as a row in the exported spreadsheet. The total value at the base of the spreadsheet automatically adds the values of each row.

Figure 2 - The Financial Summary
A second worksheet is also produced with a list of all clauses in the specification. Any of these items can easily be copied across to the main worksheet if costs need broken down at a finer level - for example of plastic and timber windows need priced separately within L10.
Figure 3 - a list of all content

And finally, great to see some positive feedback immediately on social media for this development. The screenshot below shows how Jeremy Foster takes this exported information and copies it straight into his template for managing costs on his small works projects.

Figure 4 - Further manipulation of the spreadsheet in post processing
To read more about NBS for small works please see the links below:

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Examples of different manufacturer products in NBS Source

NBS Source is our construction product information platform.

Whenever I am demonstrating it, I make sure that I try and show off some good examples to demonstrate the content structures.

Within this blog post, I highlight some examples below. Before I do so though, I thought it would be good to reflect on our user-focus group sessions from 3-4 years ago when we were first developing NBS Source. What did the construction professionals that we listened to tell us they wanted from construction product manufacturers?

Customer research sessions prior to developing NBS Source

Trying to arrange the main requirements into a list of ten things

So below, here are some content examples relating back to our findings of what the industry was asking for. Each example contains a screengrab and a hyperlink to the product itself.

Specification information
Example - Armour Carpet Tile from burmatex -

Note how the specification properties and values have been researched and aligned to the standards in the country of use (in this case BS EN standards for UK). This is aligned to the NBS generic specification template in our NBS Chorus specification platform.

Variant specification information
Example - the Heraklith Boards from Knauf Insulation bv -

Note that the thermal and acoustic characteristics of the boards adjust as the thickness of the board changes.

Third party certification and guidance on application

Example - Glidevale Protect VP400 from BPD Ltd -

Note the prominence of the BM Trada third party certification and the clear guidance on application for the use of the product.

Associated certification

Consistent environmental information
Example - SigDeck 100 from Sigmat -

Note that, in addition to specific information to the particular product type, more general information is also provided around items such as material origin, carbon and reuse of materials.

Permanent links and 'replaced by' information
Example - Armourguard - C2 from HAG -

Note that when a product is no longer available or has had a major revision, then the original web link (permalink) is still maintained. The user may choose to read the information that was published at the time and also click across to view the latest information.

Comparable information
Example - selected hand dryer products from multiple manufacturers - Hand dryers

Note that products from different manufacturers may be compared.

Linked literature to product
Example - VELFAC 200 windows from Velfac -

Note that catalogues, certificates, manuals etc. can all be linked to related products. These links work in both directions. 

From customer-story to product
Example - RS69 flooring from Sherwin Williams -

Case studies may also be linked. So real-life usage of products may be demonstrated.

'Light' digital objects to aid design process
Example - FireMaster A1 from -

Many products also have digital objects to aid the design process. This allows the product to be specified in the NBS specification, but plans, sections, details, visualizations, schedules also to be generated from the 3D modelling environment. In the example below the object is just over 1MB in size but has different options for fittings that can be shown on design details.

...and last, but my no means least, for this content to integrate into the design and specification process - not to just sit on a web platform that is a silo.

Watch the webinar below to see how NBS Chorus and NBS Source work together:

...and check out and bookmark NBS Source now... 

Monday 14 June 2021

Podcast interview with Richard Waterhouse NBS

I can definitely recommend the latest NBS podcast. My colleague Paul Swaddle does a tremendous job asking the interesting questions and listening to Richard Waterhouse talk about the industry's digital construction journey.

Over my 20+ years at NBS, I've worked really closely with Richard on many projects/developments - so it was really nice to sit back and listen to the interview.

Topics covered...

  1. Golden thread
  2. Sustainability
  3. Transforming a paper publishing business into a SaaS business
  4. 1970 and the need for national building specification
  5. Business leadership
  6. The UK's role in the BIM journey so far
  7. Digital twins

Well worth a listen.

Finishing note: whilst search for the podcast on youtube, the following video popped up. This is from 2014 when we won a double at the CN Awards for restructuring our specification content library and launching our BIM library. Remember videoing this back stage on my mobile phone - a nice record of a landmark in our NBS journey.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

NBS - June update

 June update on all things NBS

Hyperlinks to everything covered below:

1. Support on importing Building and Create specifications into Chorus

2. Check out the manufacturer product data on NBS Source

3. Reflections on our recent NBS conference
- Paul Swaddle -
- Lee Jones -
- Paul Wilkinson -

4. Our recent 'on demand' Uniclass webinars with Sarah Delany

5. ...and if you can find ten minutes, the link to our digital survey

Tuesday 4 May 2021

NBS - May Update

 May update on all things NBS

1. Watch the presentations from CLS2021 'on demand'


2. Discover the NBS Academy


3. Download the NBS Chorus whitepaper


4. Sign up for the Uniclass 2015 sessions


5. Check out the content on NBS Source


6. Participate in our Digital Construction Survey


Wednesday 28 April 2021

International use of Uniclass 2015 - Japan

There was an excellent presentation as part of a conference yesterday ran by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism about Uniclass 2015.

I was made aware of it and although my foreign languages are poor (apologies - GCSE French only), the process and the use of Uniclass 2015 during a developed design is clear. We've already seen Uniclass 2015 being mandated by states in Australia and have heard of translations into Spanish and Portugese for use in South America and Central America. Is this further evidence of Uniclass 2015 slowly becoming the classification for BIM around the world?

To see the full presentation which is in the public domain, visit the Japanese MLIT website:

Google Translate helps on the HTML links

Using the EN and SL tables at an early design stage

Using the EF and Ss tables as the design progresses 

Writing outline specifications for the specific system types

Defining which products make up each systems using the Pr table

Writing technical content for the outline specifications using NBS template clauses

Linking 3D model objects with the associated specification clauses

For more information on Uniclass 2015 see:

For more information on NBS Chorus see: