GBE Practice Specification Template A00 BRM 160818

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Features Benefits Practice Specification Templates PST Collaborate

Features Benefits Practice Specification Templates PST Collaborate
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Legend: F = Feature, B = Benefit, D = Disadvantage, O = Opportunity


Subject: Features Benefits Disadvantages Opportunities of NBS Based Practice Specification Template (PST)

Specification writing is generally not enjoyed by the majority of Architects for a number of reasons:

  • Graphically minded designers are not at their best when reading and writing
  • We get bored after a paragraph without a Hellman cartoon, drawing, diagram, picture, chart or table.
  • Specifications are an interruption to designers normal tasks of designing and drawings
  • Specifications happen infrequently and at long intervals so familiarity rarely establishes itself
  • Requires a logical and meticulous mind to assemble and edit specifications
  • Most want readymade specification libraries to get started
  • Most want a software application to manage the process

National Building Specification (NBS) Specification Library:

  • F Specification library is maintained by others at National Master Document level
    • B Can be relied upon to be substantially up to date with current requirements (with 3 updates per annum)
    • B Up to date with current UK and EU legislation, regulation and contract practices
    • B Up to date with EU rules and will evolve as Brexit takes effect
  • F It aims to be competent and enables being green
    • F Some Green Clauses
    • B Enables compliance with ‘BRE Green’
    • D Needs more work to address Green Robustly
  • F NBS has many readymade work sections made of many readymade clauses
    • F Detailed product Clauses and Assembly clauses
    • B Should avoid missing out vital information
    • D Not always detailed enough about important criteria or performance characteristics
    • O Can copy a clause and unlimited editing as required to add detail and then delete the original clause
    • F Tick or cross many readymade clauses, if they apply or not
    • B Editing process can be partly simple and partly fast
    • F ‘insert-brackets’ in other clauses allows completion of those clauses
    • F General or Clause guidance note are there for completing ‘insert-brackets’
  • F Broad range of materials and methods of construction
    • B Addresses many current methods of construction
    • D It is not comprehensive some popular trades and methods of construction are missing
    • O Other specifications are missing and need to be added, (examples from GBS):
      • O A38 Waste minimization
      • O A90 Performance Specification
      • O G22 Cross Laminated Timber Panel (CLTP) Systems
      • O G26 Structural Insulated Panel Systems (SIPS)
      • O P14 Air and Wind tightness systems
      • O Z34 Hot Dip Galvanizing

NBS Software: (features of Both NBS Building and NBS Create)

  • F Is a database that looks like word processing
    • D Can be infuriating to use if used to work processing
    • D Not always detailed enough about important criteria or performance characteristics
    • O Can copy a clause and unlimited editing and then delete the original clause

NBS Building:

  • F Based on Common Arrangement of Work Sections (CAWS) classification (Chapter or work section order)
    • F Predominantly Trade-based Specification with some element Specifications
    • B Industry standard since 1987 still current today
    • D NBS wish to stop supporting NBS Building during 2018
    • B NBS Subscribers will probably not migrate to NBS Create to allow NBS Building to be unsupported
    • D BIM is driving adoption of Uniclass 2015 classification
    • D BIM is driving adoption of Uniclass and NBS Create
    • O An Elemental approach can be implemented in NBS Building
    • O All missing work sections can be added to NBS Building easily
  • F Starts with a complete work section that has to be edited down
    • There is a lot to turn off or delete
  • F Generates 200-400 page whole building project specifications
    • B Quite efficient in terms of numbers of words and pages

NBS Create:

  • F Based on Uniclass II classification (Chapter or work section order)
    • B BIM is driving adoption of Uniclass in CAD and NBS Create in Specification
    • B Industry standard since 1997 and of growing importance with BIM
    • B Predominantly Elemental, Sub-elemental and Component Specifications
    • B Complimentary with Elemental:
      • Elemental Performance requirements of the Building Regulation
      • Elemental BRE Green Guide to Specification
      • Elemental Pricing Guides
      • Elemental Approaches and readymade BIM models
      • Elemental Robust Details
      • Practice Elemental and Standard Details or Standard Approaches
    • F Any missing work sections can be added to NBS Create
    • D Adding new work sections and supporting clauses needs a great deal more care and attention
    • D Uniclass splits the elements from their performances, assemblies and components each with their own Uniclass classification codes and then cross references them
  • F Facilitates the gradual development of the specification without lots of unedited clauses
    • B Evolves through briefing, designing, detailing, specifying, tendering, post tender value engineering, contracting, supervising, facilities managing
    • B Starts small grows as the knowledge grows than shrinks to suit the purpose
  • F Starts with an empty work section that needs to be built up
    • F Clauses can be assembled from readymade parts that need to be chosen and populated
    • D Can be intimidating and slow to create a work section
  • F Generates 500-1200 page whole building project specifications
    • D Sounds quite inefficient in terms of numbers of words and pages

Practice Specification Templates:

  • F Both NBS Building and NBS Create enable its users to set up Practice template Specifications
  • B Templates can be pre-edited to part complete the specification before any projects are created from it
  • F Practice Templates are linked to NBS Specification Library and can be made into a bespoke version of it
  • F Project Specifications are linked to the Practice template, the pre-edited version of NBS Specification Library
  • B Templates help create project specifications with less work to do and therefore be done more quickly
  • F Can be used as repository of Corporate Knowledge, in the right place, at the right time
  • F Practice Policy can be turned into Practice actions via the specification software
  • B Clauses can be made Mandatory by choosing them at Practice template level, making them unable to be undone or turned off at project level
  • F Practice guidance notes can include: practice guru notes, hyperlinks to office intranet, links to external internet, links to files on servers, images, cad files
  • B All the right information is available, in the right place, at the right time, to inform competent decision
  • F Work sections can be deleted and clauses can be crossed or turned off at Practice template level and not be available at project level
  • F Bespoke work sections covering missing methods of construction can be added, with the guidance of Practice Gurus and manufacturers and they can have both practice general and clause guidance notes
  • B Methods of construction used by the practice can be easily adopted when the specification is readily available too
  • F Versions of clauses can be created and ‘insert-brackets’ populated with preferred products, materials, accessories or systems, manufacturers or suppliers
  • B Once the specification clause is created at Template level it can be chosen at project level with very little effort, except perhaps choosing the colour or size
  • B A level of consistency can be achieved by having ready made competent and consistent clauses
  • B With a high level of non-english mother tongues in our practices today spelling errors or poor grammar can be avoided if more clauses are already written and populated
  • F We are familiar with readymade standard details and objects in BIM
  • B These details and objects can come with readymade standard clause
  • F Versions of clauses can be left unedited and Practice Guidance notes can have optional text to use to complete the ‘insert-brackets’
  • B A specification clause with or without pre-edited ‘insert-brackets’ at Template level can be left un-ticked and then edited within the ‘insert-bracket’ at Project level
  • F Versions of clauses can be created to suit the procurement method and practice clause guidance notes clarify which version to use, if it is not obvious
  • B Time can be saved editing the same changes in every project specification.
  • F There is room in work sections to add additional clauses to make the specification bespoke to the Practice
  • F The ticking of clauses at Practice Template level enable faster editing of project specification
  • D It is essential that great care is taken when ticking at Template level to ensure all possible scenarios are considered and the clause will not be a problem in any situation.
  • O If there are lists of possible options within a clause, they should always be in a ‘insert-bracket’ and left unticked so they can be edited at project level and ticked at project level only.

Practice commitment to maintain the Template

  • Having decided to develop a practice template specification within NBS Building or NBS Create it must then be maintained for as long as the subscription service is maintained.
  • NBS updates its services 2-3 times a year
  • Its library of clauses gets updated and selectively work sections get overhauled when the sector or its reference publications change
  • Every time the NBS updates, the Practice Specification needs to be validated against the new NBS clauses
  • Validation: A change in an NBS clause that has been modified in the Practice Template needs to be compared with the bespoke clause and the bespoke clause updated as necessary.
  • This process is handled in a bespoke part of the software to make it as painless as possible.
  • It remains a challenge for most users.
  • If a project is created between NBS updates it is tempting to not validate it against any NBS updates, unless big changes have occurred that need to be engaged with.
  • Validation of the practice template specification needs to occur before a new project is started.

Practice Template as a Practice Overhead

  • Since the development of the practice template potentially improved the efficiency of all project specifications they its development could be considered as a Practice overhead and its costs shared between all projects
  • Its maintenance could also be considered as a Practice overhead
  • If a Project is about to start then the NBS update validation should be carried out first and this could be considered either as a practice overhead or a project cost.

Roll out of the Practice Template Specification

  • If the Practice uses the template specification as a means to drive Practice Policy into Practice Action then the use of the template needs to be considered as a mandatory requirement.
  • Training will need to be provided to ensure everybody knows how to use it, where to find the files and how to implement them.
  • The Practice members need to be introduced to the Features and Benefits so they can see the benefits are real and relevant to them and their projects.

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
15th August 2018 – 17th August 2018

Features Benefits Practice Specification Templates PST Collaborate
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GBE Practice Specification Template A00 BRM 160818

GBE Practice Specification Template A00 BRM 160818

GBE Practice Specification Template A00 BRM 160818 PDF


© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
15th August 2018 – 16th August 2018

Features Benefits Robust Specification Templates RST Collaborate
See Also:


GBE Collaborate

GBE Services

GBE Specification Templates


GBE Shop

  • Features & Benefits of Practice Specification Templates (Shop) DOCX G#_____
  • Features & Benefits of Contractor Specification Templates (Shop) DOCX G#_____

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© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
15th August 2018 – 16th August 2018

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