Most professionals seem to agree that the practical data embedded in BIM models, is not maximised or consistently extracted along the full project timeline. However, increasing use of live links and connectivity from model, to specification, to installation, assists with accurate and instant identification and quantifying as the project progresses. Computer processing power has enabled model scrutiny to such a level, that construction efficiency is hugely improved. Enhanced output for lower cost continues.
Now that construction data allows us to check and identify problems much faster, verification of compliance should be far easier to apply, but can often be lost in the contractual haystack of sign off and approval. Rarely will one team member read through the entire specification because only certain parts are perceived to be relevant to them. Facilitating quick, linked access to the right clause is essential.
Two recently released NSW documents are crucial to meeting these obligations: the ‘Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW)’, and the ‘Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 (NSW)’. In summary, these require more compliance declarations, insurance guarantees, and quicker identification of defective work. Contracts and legislation are, in essence, intended to avoid time-consuming and costly legal finger-pointing, hence, extensive and accurate verification is an ideal way to achieve it.
Using NBS Chorus to produce specifications, enables a clear and logical arrangement of built-in verification requirements, which help satisfy the above regulations, but more widely serve as good practice for successful construction projects.
A key feature of NBS Chorus content is the inclusion of four verification clauses (design, pre-construction, execution and completion) that require the submission of documentation or evidence, confirming that the specified performance requirements have been achieved. The project timeline is therefore broken down into easily understood stages, so that the verification is easier to control and demonstrate. To distinguish before, during or after construction, Chorus features drop-down menu options and free-typing format, which enforce responsibility on designers, contractors and installers to identify compliance checkpoints, and then ensure they are met and recorded.
This structure captures the important milestones to establish certainty and safety. It is well-positioned within the specification document, because all the instructions, requirements and obligations of the specification can be related to these four verification clauses. Methods of achieving these can be specified in Chorus through inspections, site visits, samples, third-party accreditation, survey reports, site photos, certification, product literature, material sourcing evidence, laboratory testing, and model simulations. This is a concise and comprehensive way to capture quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) within your design, during construction, and in use.
The NBS Chorus verification clauses are as follows:
- Verification of design requirements allows the specifier to request product literature, professional certification, previous test results, model simulations, control samples, plus any customized requirements from the contractor. This can be easily linked to any performance requirement like materials, function, fire safety, aesthetic, environmental, acoustic, etc.
- Verification of pre-construction requirements can be used to request further control samples, preliminary installations, prototypes, workshop drawings, previous test results or warranties if they are needed to verify compliance prior to installation.
- Verification of execution requirements describes exactly how to reject, approve or verify the physical execution and final installation. This can include surveys to be undertaken, mandatory or project-specific inspections at various installation stages, photographic evidence, site reports, literature submittals or performance declarations to verify compliance with the performance requirements.
- Verification of completion requirements prompt the contractor to submit written declarations or completion statements, and where necessary to provide warranties, cleaning recommendations, maintenance and care instructions, or operation manuals.
The standard NBS Chorus framework for each verification clause, includes Requirements, Evidence, Method, Submittals, and Timing, so you can precisely control the QAQC with recordable and trackable content. There is the capacity to add further subheadings and free-type as you wish, and to give project specific details for bespoke or unusual requests. The verification clauses are hyperlinked from the performance requirements, hence covering all aspects of verification using one clear set of rules.
There is pre-written content for the Australian market with Standards and National Construction Code references so the NBS Chorus layout appears logically ordered in every specification. This system-relevant information displays in the adjacent guidance menu panel to the side of the specification clauses. The NBS system and product clauses (based on Uniclass 2015 classification system) are included for nearly every building system, which directly links to the 4 verification clauses for all your designs and instructions. Hence you have obligated the contractor to prove they have made regular checks and recorded the results. This means you are well protected in any disputes about unclear information or omissions. Further explanation of the Uniclass 2015 classification system in Australia is discussed in this recent article. The complete set of Uniclass 2015 classification tables can be viewed and downloaded from this Uniclass 2015 webpage.
The recently launched NBS Preliminaries content library set, includes a ‘Roles’ section. This allows the specifier to include details for professional accreditation, and membership details of institutions or associations where applicable. This extends to the insurance status of each practitioner so that there is clear benchmark that protects and raises high standards. This information can be used to record the organisations involved with the project, in line with the ‘Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW)’ legislation noted above. This is specific to New South Wales, but similar requirements are likely to be required in other states and territories across Australia, as per recommendation 2 of the Shergold Weir ‘Building Confidence’ report. See also the ‘Jurisdictional Update’ for more information on how the states and territories are responding to the Building Confidence report.
In terms of the full project life-cycle, there is far more pressure now on the project team to ensure the Client can understand and fully maximize the capabilities of their asset. As mentioned earlier, the huge amount of data stored in the BIM models is badly untapped, and should be applied in the building operation stage so that staff, building managers, maintenance professionals and Client are briefed on the systems and features of the building. The integration of the live BIM model with linked specification writing, operating via the NBS Chorus plugins to ArchiCAD and Revit, now gives significant cost and time savings through the entire concept to operation process.