27 April 2020


1. Background

As part of a recent NBS webinar on collaborative specification writing, Chris Dixon (Associate Architect at Franklin Ellis Architects) described how he had worked with Dulux Trade to develop paint systems specifications for a complex building project.

Both parties had previous experience of writing specifications using the NBS Building and NBS Create desktop products, but the adoption of NBS Chorus presented new opportunities for collaboration. As Chorus is an online platform, it is possible to invite external consultants to a project so that they can contribute to the specification-writing process. Through a robust permissions model, access can be granted at the granularity of a specification to allow read-only, contributor or administrator access.

This article describes how Chris worked with the team from Dulux Trade. To further understand the functionality behind this process, please see: Collaborative Specification Writing.

2. Workflow

The section from the webinar in which Chris presents the workflow has been extracted and published in the short video below:

The workflow is also illustrated in the screenshots below.

Prior to inviting the external consultants to join the project in NBS Chorus, the various paint systems were added to the specification. Figure 2.1 below shows that around ten different types of paint system have been added. The prefix field has been used to cross-reference a package code; the suffix field of each system has been used to indicate the location of the building that the systems will be applied to. Where relevant, a briefing note was added to each system, and relevant shared drawings from the model, to provide further context.

Figure 2.1 - The paint system specifications within the project

Figure 2.2 shows that, once access to the specification was granted, the specification writers at Dulux Trade were able to open each system and specify the correct combinations of products to meet the project requirements. Furthermore, execution and system completion clauses could also be added to ensure the correct application of the products, inspections and handover information. Any notes between the two parties were added to the notes panel within the software.

Figure 2.2 – Example specification for Waterborne paint system

Once complete, the specification was carefully checked, and then copied and pasted back into the main specification with all of the other systems for the building. Figure 3.3 shows how one of these systems then appears in the PDF output when published.

The manufacturer is putting this all together for you - so you can easily just check the content at the end and then transfer directly into the main specification. So it works very well and it is a step up in collaboration terms from using just NBS Plus

Chris Dixon, Franklin Ellis Architects

Figure 2.3 – Published specification in PDF format
The direct invitation into the project from Chris at Franklin Ellis Architects was a great leap forward and enables us to get the spec right first time. I had no previous Chorus experience, but with only a little bit of training I was able to start using the platform straight away. What I like about the Chorus platform is that we are able to add more relevant information in the execution clauses

Andy Baggott, Dulux Trade

3. Summary

Traditionally, specifications are assembled and written by an internal team within the same organization. Where input is required from external consultants, this can often be a laborious process, involving Word and PDF files being sent back and forth by email. This can often include inefficiencies such as rekeying information into the main specification, and moving clauses from one data structure to another.

Franklin Ellis Architects and Dulux Trade have worked together to prove that, by using modern cloud technologies, a better, more collaborative approach is now possible. ‘The idea of collaboration is that you aren't just dropping single products into the spec - but getting the execution clauses as well. You are benefiting from the expertise from a specialist from the manufacturer's technical team selecting to appropriate products for your particular application.

More information

NBS Chorus is the market-leading specification platform for architects, engineers and manufacturers that author specifications. Find out more at: www.theNBS.com/Chorus

Manufacturers can position their content and specification-writing services by joining the NBS Source platform. Find out more at: www.theNBS.com/Source

To watch the full webinar on collaborative specification writing (with contributions from NBS’ Paul Swaddle and Stephen Hamil, and Franklin Ellis Architects’ Chris Dixon), register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7461274217544535310