Thursday, 29 August 2013


Update July 2015 - Please see the NBS Technical Article on this subject at:

One of the most talked about topics around BIM is always LOD. This can stand for a number of things and maybe Level of Development is better than Level of Detail as "detail" could be seen to be about geometry only. This level of development can perhaps be thought of as a combination of the detail (the graphical content) and the information (the non-graphical content).

The recently published PAS 1192-2:2013 defines the following abbreviations:
A.77 levels of model detail (LOD)
Description of graphical content of models at each of the stages defined for example in the CIC Scope of Services.
A.78 levels of model information (LOI)
Description of non-graphical content of models at each of the stages defined for example in the CIC Scope of Services.
Information model development through the digital plan of work
Figure 21 of the PAS shows this level of graphical and non-graphical information slowly developing throughout the project (alongside additional documentation). Figure 20 in the PAS gives examples of what type of information may be present in the overall model at each stage of the digital plan of work.

In the USA...
Meanwhile in the USA, there has been some movement on this recently. Most notably through BIMForum, a multidisciplinary group of BIM users, who have just released their Level of Development Specification. Building Design + Construction Magazine posted a review of this at the website below:

The BIMForum launch presentation for this video can be viewed on youtube...

The three aims of this document are (1) to help owners when they want to specify what information they want and when, (2) to help design managers explain this and (3) to have something that can be referenced in Project/BIM Execution Plans.

The document notes some interesting caveats, notably is that different objects in the model will develop at different rates (for example structural objects will develop faster than interior objects) and therefore the overall model cannot have a "LOD".

Some examples from the document are below...
BIMForum LOD guidance for structural frame
BIMForum LOD guidance for cooling system
Going further a field than just the USA, some more information on what is happening on this subject around the world - please check out the following excellent blog post by Antony McPhee

As example of what NATSPEC in Australia are doing with their National BIM Guide is below.
This NATSPEC National BIM Guide is an adopted version of the US department of Veteran Affairs (VA) BIM Guide:
NATSPEC LOD derived from the VA BIM object element matrix
The VA BIM Guide
...So what are NBS doing?

1. Classification
Internationally, the standard ISO 12006-2 defines classification for construction objects. This defines the principles for tables that are classify items such as entities (eg. school), spaces (eg. class room), elements (roof), systems (clay tile covering system) and products (clay tile).
UK -

These classification systems allow objects to to start "big" and then as the project progresses to be broken down into smaller object as the information develops.

NBS are members of CPIC and are helping finalise the Uniclass 2 classification tables. We have also created a Uniclass mini-site and this includes a presentation from John Gelder NBS who sits on the task force for review of ISO 12006-2.

2. RIBA Plan of Work 2013
The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 was published earlier this year.
As part of Stage 1 Preparation and Brief, one key task that should take place before design begins is the production of a Design Responsibility Matrix.
Design Responsibility Matrix
The associated RIBA publications, Assembling the Collaborative Project Team, will give detailed guidance and template tools to help project teams produce this document. In terms of the associated template tools, NBS are currently working with the publication's author Dale Sinclair on the production of these tools. A sneak preview (caveat - subject to a  few tweaks before release) is below...
Template Design Responsibility Matrix 
This is a guidance template - and it must provide support for all projects and not just BIM projects. The design items on the left hand side are completely editable. At the start of the preparation stage these items will be high level probably describing elements, but as the concept design stage ends and the developed design stage starts these will be expanded to cover the systems and products that have been selected to satisfy the brief.

In terms of the drop down values, these can be modified (for example, to use AIA LOD definitions), but out-of-the-box, to cover the majority of projects in the UK, the values include a scale for the drawings drawn or exported from the model and an indication of whether the design is an outline description, or describes performance, generic specification of products or proprietary specification of products.

The book Assembling the Collaborative Project Team will be available from October 2013 from and then templates will be available to download from
The preparation stage is crucial prior to the three design stages commencing
3. National BIM Library is the NBS free-to-use library of standard BIM objects. These include objects at three broad levels of development.
Concept objects that allow the basic shape and room usage to be defined
Objects representing typical generic constructions without considering material properties

Manufacturer objects that contain all properties of an object representing the real-world item
4. NBS Create
At NBS we consider BIM to be much wider than simply the design model. The specification and the property sets within it make up a significant percentage of the "i" in BIM. With NBS Create the information can be developed in parallel with the design model.

Consider the example below looking at a deck system...
At concept design stage - their may be just a simple description of the system
As the developed design stage begins an outline of the products can be added
As developed design continues, the overall performance of the system may be added
During the technical design stage, individual products and their property sets may be specified
...and finally, a manufacturer product is always chosen by one of the parties (client, designer, contractor, sub-contractor)
5. Support to BIM Task Group
NBS worked with the BIM Task Group to define the information requirements for around 20 objects based on the MofJ plain language questions.
The labs area can be accessed here:
What information is needed, what is its definition and when is it needed?
A blog post I did at the time looking at this can be viewed here:

The consultancy exercise around the labs work is still under-way - but the feedback and next steps will be very interesting.

So quite a complex subject - and definitely one that needs further refinement and discussion. But hopefully this blog post gives some food for thought on how information will develop through a BIM process on a project.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

...and the Construction Footy League is go

The Construction Footy Leagues Fantasty Football has completed its first week.

I'm sad to report it is very much middle-of-the-table-mediocrity for BIM Model United. A combination of Arsenal's unexpected home defeat to Villa and the "Special one" deciding Lukaku isn't that special and leaving him firmly on the bench twice conspired against me. Working out what I do with three Chelsea players the week before a trip to Old Trafford is the big decision now.
BIM Model United FC
The league table looks like this...
The league table
Top, top, top of the league is last year's winner Matthew McCarter. His tactics clearly seem to be to play as few defenders as possible as they tend to get the least points...
1st place after week one - The Wombles - Matthew McCarter
Bottom of the league is NBS training manager Paul Swaddle. He'd gone for the same 3-4-3 formation - but star picks such as Garrido from Norwich, Sissoko from the title-chasing-toon-army and some midfielder from either West Ham/Aston Villa (who I cannot quite make out from the picture below) surprisingly failed to really bring the points in. :)
36th place after week one - FIM - Paul Swaddle
The only way is up for Paul. The only way is down for Matt.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

More examples of manufacturer BIM content promotion

A few weeks ago I blogged about how Burgess Architectural Products were using the National BIM Library web syndication to good effect.

I had another browse around today and checked out how some more of the manufacturers engaged with BIM are promoting their content...

1. Triton Systems

Triton Systems are making it very easy for their site visitors to get the information they need. To the right of their homepage their BIM objects, their CE Marking certification and their RIBA CPD are all clearly displayed.
BIM, CE marking certification and RIBA CPD all prominent on homepage
2. Sika Sarnafil

Sika Sarnafil are using the National BIM Library web syndication nicely to display all of their BIM content on a dedicated page.
The NBS BIM logo on the home page
All of the Saranfil BIM objects syndicated from a central National BIM Library source
3. smet

smet have taken a slightly different route and are advertising their cutting-edge digital content in a more traditional way. They have hard copy adverts in Northern Builder magazine (for building design professionals in Northern Ireland. They also have the "NBS BIM" logo on some of their work vans.
smet advertising campaign around BIM
NBS BIM logo on the back of the van
...for any manufacturers that are interested in BIM - please see the following page for more information:

Also, a reminder that our free publication (in association with the Construction Products Association) "BIM for the Terrified" may be downloaded from the page below:

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Linkedin - Who's viewed your updates

I like this the new linkedin feature - it shows you the stats as to how many people have viewed and "liked" your updates. These are grouped into circles representing your 1st level, 2nd level and 3rd level contacts.

Step 1 - Post a link to a story on the web you think may be of interest
Step 2 - To the right of your linkedin page it tells you the statistics in a nice little chart
You can scroll through the latest 6 updates
Read more on the official linkedin blog...

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The cost of poorly assembled data to the construction industry

In terms of the recent CN Award for NBS Create, the judges highlighted one statistic "£2bn - the cost of rework every year". So how does the use of a good master specification system, that helps coordinates the data across the construction project team, help to significantly reduce this risk?

£2bn - the cost of rework every year
Some insightful statistics are provided at the "NBS Educator" area of the NBS website - - extracts from which are below...

When specification-based disputes go to court - the reasons as a percentage are:
  • ‘Or equal’ specifications: 25%.
    Jobs have ground to a halt over arguments about just what is ‘equal’ to the proprietary specification, and whose decision this is.
  • Conflict between drawings and specifications: 12%.
    Remains a major issue.
  • Ambiguity: 12%
  • Defective specifications, e.g. buildability: 12%.
  • Inaccurate technical data: 12%.
  • Product performance deficiencies: 8%
In terms of conflict between drawings and specifications, this is responsible for 19% of change orders.

Looking at various surveys across the world...
Construction contributed ca £65 billion to UK economy in 2004 – orders totalled ca £34 billion in 2009. 5% (for rework) of these figures is £3.25 billion and £1.7 billion respectively.

So, around £2 billion.

Thanks to NBS Technical Author John Gelder for many of these statistics and the original articles on the NBS Educator site.

BIM: The small practice perspective

In association with Graphisoft and Autodesk, RIBA are putting on three one-day conferences looking at BIM from a point of view of architectural practices that employ 10 architects are less.

The sorts of questions that will be being addressed include:
  • What is BIM?
  • How will it affect me?
  • I am a sole practitioner/small practice, do I need to bother?
  • How and how much do I need to change my way of thinking?
  • How do I implement BIM?
  • How long will it take?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How does it affect PI/Copyright/Contractual agreements?
  • Will my hardware be sufficient?
I'll be chairing the London session on 20th September at 66 Portland Place. There will also be additional sessions in Manchester on the 26th September and Birmingham on the 4th October.

Speakers will be from architectural practice, software vendors, information providers and BIM consultants. These will include Richard Fairhead bblur architecture, James Austin Autodesk, David Jellings, Open BIM Network, Rebecca De Cicco David Miller Architects, James Anwyl Eurobuild, Stefan Mordue - NBS, Rob Kalocay - Graphisoft UK, Scott Berry - Graphisoft Connect and representatives of BIM Academy.

A similar session was put on as part of the Guerrilla Tactics event last year and it was very well received. My blog post from this is below:

For details on how to sign up for one of the conferences please see the following website:

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Built Environment Social Media Awards 2013

The Built Environment Social Media Awards 2013 have just opened. I stumbled across it and noticed that I had received a nomination in the Built environment blogger of the year category.

The BE2 awards
Any other visitors to this blog who think they would like to support this nomination can do so by:
  1. Visiting this page:
  2. Reply to the initial nomination with a few words
Nominations for best blog
There are also many other award categories all related to social media and the construction industry. I may just have to add a few nominations for others now during my lunch break. The best community, twitter usage, internet of things and mobile app all look good.

It'll be interesting to see if we get any further nominations (you cannot vote for yourself). The National BIM Library linkedin group, RIBA Product Selector mobile website and our 48 hour blogging as part of BIM competitions must all be in with a shout. 

Related posts:
Daily BIM discussions and nearly 3,000 members world-wide on NBL linked group
Mobile web application for

Blogging at 2am in the morning
Background - Looking at the BE2 website the six or seven main people behind this initiative are listed:
They include Martin Brown and Paul Wilkinson who are two of the most active and followed social media folk in the construction industry:
Martin aka @fairsnape 
Paul aka @eepaul 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Burgess Architectural Products and BIM

A couple of months ago I blogged about the new National BIM Library feature that allows manufacturers the ability to display their BIM objects within their own website.

This feature ensures that all BIM objects and statistics come from a single source. It also ensures that they are managed centrally in a single location - any modifications will be applied to both the content on the manufacturer's website and National BIM Library.

It's nice to see the first few manufacturers adding these pages to their websites now to maximise the exposure of their objects. One particularly strong example is with Burgess Architectural Products Ltd. Screenshots from their site are below:
Main website -
BIM sub-site -

Figure one below shows the Burgess AP home page. Their web designers have included a new tab on the home page for the BIM objects and also a small area to the left of the page.
Figure 1 - Burgess AP Homepage
Figure two below shows the new BIM area of the website. The BIM object panel has been included by adding the snippet of code from the National BIM Library website (for technical help see this post).
The BIM mini-website for Burgess AP
Figure 3 below shows the exact same objects on the Burgess AP area of the National BIM Library website within

Figure 3 - Burgess AP on the National BIM Library

Friday, 2 August 2013

Keeping up-to-date and reducing risk with NBS Create

With NBS Create, all technical content is delivered from the web. This has the huge advantage that the content is always up-to-date within the software as the NBS technical staff update it throughout the year. In turn, it makes life much easier for IT administrators that previously had to receive CD updates and then push these out to all users across an organisation. With all of the best will in the world, the content sometimes did not always make it to the specification writers as the CD remained on someone's desk and didn't get deployed.

The screenshot below shows that now, when a content update is released (like yesterday), the end-user is informed that this has happened in the software start-up screen...
Communication of new updates within the start-up page
From the NBS Guidance homepage - a summary of all of these changes is a single click away. The screenshot below shows that all of the updated systems are listed. The user can drill down to look at the updated items in further detail. In the example below, the content has been changed due to the technical author reviewing BS 1342 and BS 7976.
A list of all modifications to NBS content
When the software is opened, the office master clauses are all checked for currency in the background. When a specification is opened, again, this is checked for currency in the background.
The software checks office master and specification content against the latest NBS
If a specification is out of date with NBS and/or the office master, the user may see a summary report of all differences.
Within the specification the updates are clearly displayed
The user may then go through these changes and make an informed decision as to whether these modifications should be accepted or rejected. In the example below - the NBS technical author has changed the default value of a clause item from "6mm (or depth of tile if less)" to "Full thickness of tile".
Updates can be accepted or rejected at a clause insert level
Depending on where the specification is in the project timeline, it may become fixed and the specifier may no longer wish to update this. In this case, the user may simply click "Stop updates for this job". Equally, if the user does not want to go through each update one-by-one, they can click to "Accept all changes".
At times you may want to stop updates for a particular specification or "accept-all" in one click