We recently hosted a webinar about ‘Integrating the model and specification with NBS Chorus’

The webinar featured Nigel Rayner, Specification Writer from Sheehan Nagle Hartray Associates (SNHA), who joined NBS Innovation Director Dr Stephen Hamil to demonstrate how SNHA uses NBS Chorus and the Revit plug-in to link the design model and specification on projects. 

SNHA is an award-winning firm with offices in Chicago and London. The majority of projects undertaken by the London office are data centres, which require a high level of technical knowledge and significant building services requirements. This means that collaboration with other consultants is an essential part of SNHA’s work. 
SNHA directors Richard Wilding and Justin Manson have 15 years’ experience of designing data centres, having worked with clients from all over the globe. This level of experience means that SNHA can assess a project’s viability, sidestep any pitfalls, mitigate for potential risks in the build and flag up any areas to the client where cost efficiencies can be made in the programme, phasing, specification, or method of construction. 

Working on complex projects, the practice needs a set of technology tools that supports their process and allows for the coordination of information. Figure 1 shows the SNHA technology stack for project delivery.

Figure 1 - SNHA's technology stack

One of NBS Chorus’ features that SNHA uses frequently on its projects is master specifications. This allows the practice to build up a library of commonly used clauses tailored to their organization and clients, ready to use on new projects repeatedly. 

Figure 2, below, demonstrates how SNHA makes use of master specifications, specification notes and organization notes. 

“Master specifications form a key part of our work because data centre projects involve a combination of repeat working and designing from first principles,” Nigel said. 

Figure 2 - Master specification and organisation notes
"Having the master specifications means that we can be consistent in our approach from project to project. The project specifications individually can then be adjusted for local regulations and standards, depending on the country.”

Nigel also gave an example of how organization notes and specification notes can be useful when working on global projects. 

We use organization notes and specification notes to raise awareness of any potential local regulations or standards that may need to be considered for that particular country."

To wrap up his presentation, Nigel gave an overview of the process SNHA uses to get the most out of Chorus’ integration with Revit. 
As seen in Figure 3, the organization has developed a table of codes that allow technical items to be grouped together. Each NBS Chorus system master specification uses the relevant code as its ‘prefix’, and SNHA also uses the same code as an index for all of its product information knowledge base. 
Figure 3 - Outline specification schedule in Microsoft Excel

The technical specification is then developed in NBS Chorus and associated with the relevant Revit model. At SNHA, the dedicated specification writer produces the specification content within NBS Chorus, liaising with colleagues during the development of the design in the Revit model. 

They automate the link between the drawn information and the specification; one example of this is that they are currently using filters within Revit that are linked to NBS Chorus to check that the correct specification has been associated with the appropriate item. This helps them to work more efficiently, and helps to keep all the project information in sync. 

“For us, the success of creating a specification and integrating it with BIM is a balance of controlling the detailed specification data through an experienced technical team and sharing the key information with the design team,” he said. 

“Getting the balance right is vital for efficiency and improved knowledge share throughout the practice.” 

Find out more

For more information about the process outlined in the article, watch this webinar where Dr Stephen Hamil from NBS speaks with Nigel to demonstrate how the model integration feature can help your organisation collaborate more effectively.

To find out more about the new designer licence seat offer from NBS, which allows the whole project team to view and coordinate the specification from the modelling environment, click here

Discover more about the benefits of specifying with NBS Chorus