We recently hosted a webinar about how NBS Chorus can be used by small practices. It featured Peter Wray, an architect based in Wales. Peter uses NBS Chorus for Small Works: a dedicated package with all the benefits of using NBS Chorus, but with a content set designed for smaller projects.

“Wray Architects is a one-man band, predominantly working on new builds and extensions. I also do a bit of heritage work, so I’ve worked with churches on restorations after fires, as well as some small commercial works in art galleries and small shops,” he told us. 

The benefits of cloud-based specification 

NBS Chorus is designed to provide access to all kinds of content sets for various scales of project, and various classification structures and locations around the world. Chorus for Small Works provides access to a dedicated set of NBS content structured in CAWS. The platform also provides a set of Preliminaries tailored around precise domestic minor works contracts. 

Chorus is cloud-based, so there’s nothing to download, and it will run on multiple devices – all you need is an internet connection. This also means that you’re always using the latest version of the platform.


Figure 1 - Collaboration in NBS Chorus.

"With previous specification-writing tools, if my computer stopped working then I lost access to my work. With Chorus, it’s useful to know that if my laptop breaks, I can still get into the platform and access my work without having to get anything off the hard drive."

With Chorus, you can be safe in the knowledge that the clauses have been kept up to date by the NBS technical authors – giving you peace of mind that you’re generating an accurate and up-to-date digital record of the decisions being made, reducing risk and helping to create a golden thread of information. 

"Having a tool like NBS Chorus means that I can be confident that my output is accurate – even if the specification is then translated to a paper format when it’s handed to the contractor."

During the webinar, Peter used one of his own projects as an example to demonstrate how he typically uses the platform. 

“This project was quite a small job. It involved demolishing and rebuilding a porch, demolishing and rebuilding a sunroom, and adding a small extension at the back. Even though it was a small project, it involved the same components as on a bigger project – it’s still got doors, windows, electrical fittings, heating and ventilation. It’s just that you’ve only got one of each of those, rather than 20 or 100. The project still has the same considerations and the same number of things to specify.”
Figure 2 -  Peter's range of projects in NBS Chorus.

Work smarter and save time

Explaining the process he follows when starting a project, Peter said: 

“I’ll do the construction drawings first and then I’ll draw up a specification using Chorus. That specification, together with the construction drawings, will form the bulk of the package that goes out to tender, along with a spreadsheet for pricing.”

Existing users have told us that NBS Chorus has helped them to produce specifications up to 70% faster, freeing up more time for design and consultation. This gives them the opportunity to safely reuse content from previous projects and retain any lessons learned. This is something that Peter has benefited from in his own experience.

“The bulk of a specification will be made up of the standard NBS clauses,” he said. 

“Probably more than 90% of each project is made up of techniques or construction types that I’ve used on other projects, so it makes the process quicker.

“For a standard project, it takes about an hour to get the normal components specified, and then each project usually has one or two things which are a little bit out of the ordinary that I’d have to start looking at the manufacturer’s data for.”

Figure 3 - Peter's office standards help him to create specifications quickly and accurately.

Within Chorus for Small Works, you also get access to data from our manufacturer product platform NBS Source, so you can compare the various options.

Collaborate with the whole project team

If you work in an office with multiple people, you can collaborate with them and invite those people to be part of the projects, control the access they have to certain specifications and see their changes in real time. You can also collaborate with other organizations, so you can share specifications with clients, subcontractors and manufacturers.

"One of the main benefits of NBS Chorus, for me, is knowing that somebody else working on the project can find out what kind of products have been specified without me having to go back and write that down for every single project – and anything that might be forgotten is automatically drawn into every project."

“Another key benefit is that it’s just good practice to go through the specification on each project and pause for thought about every element of the construction. It gives you the chance to think ‘What’s the fire protection like for that element?’ or ‘Do I need to revise this?’”

Find out more

To find out about Chorus for Small Works in more detail, take a look at our webinar, where Paul Swaddle from NBS has an in-depth conversation with Peter about his specification-writing process. 

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