23rd June Journal Column

By Richard Waterhouse, Chief Executive of NBS

On Wednesday (21 June) the NBS team launched their new tool, the NBS Online Viewer powered by Autodesk Forge at Autodesk University in London.

Since becoming the first UK Autodesk Solutions Associate last year, NBS and Autodesk have been working together to develop the next generation of information and knowledge management integration.  This latest development is all about taking Building Information Modelling (BIM) into the cloud. By doing this, NBS will be providing a solution which provides and maintains critical data within the construction workflow allowing customers to provide more value to their clients.

The NBS Online Viewer makes it quick and easy for everyone working on a project to view a 3D model and associated specification without the need for additional software or a licence. With just a web browser and a free NBS ID, projects can be brought to life with linked manufacturer and specification data. The NBS Online Viewer will provide huge efficiency gains for designers, manufacturers, contractors and building owners/operators alike, by allowing everyone to be informed on a project regardless of technology barriers.

The tool works by combining either the Revit or IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) model with NBS Create in the cloud. It’s as simple as clicking the ‘model’ button and uploading this with the associated specification. Once uploaded, the model can be navigated within the web browser.

The specification viewer provides approximate quantities calculated from the model and presents linked clauses together with hyperlinks to external resources such as manufacturer websites and published documents. By adding email addresses, others can be invited to view the model and specification.

NBS has developed plug-ins for BIM design software for a number of years, allowing customers to better coordinate their models and specifications. The NBS Online Viewer development is in direct response to customers needing to be able to share and view coordinated design and specification information. Being able to view and interrogate this information using a 3D model will allow for earlier informed decision making on projects, whilst providing the right content and information to the right people at the right time.

For all those working on BIM projects, I encourage you all to give it a trial run. It is currently in public beta phase, but will be open for the next few months and from there NBS will determine how best to build the first release to market.

To access the NBS Online Viewer and to give feedback visit, www.theNBS.com/viewer

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

16th June Journal Column

By Sarah Wilson, partner in the construction department at commercial law firm Watson Burton

Since it was introduced, the New Engineering Contract (NEC) has been widely used across the industry, becoming the contract of choice for Government and public-sector work, as well as being used extensively on other projects.

The NEC is a formalised system created by the Institution of Civil Engineers that guides the drafting of documents on civil engineering and construction projects for the purpose of obtaining tenders, awarding and administering contracts.

The contract was revolutionary when it was first introduced, requiring the parties to act in a “spirit of mutual trust and co-operation”.  It is not the type of contract that can be signed and then put aside to gather dust.  Instead, it is very much a management contract, setting out in clear language the procedures that need to be followed throughout the works. The aim is that no nasty surprises lie in wait for the developer and that payment is prompt and fair for the contractor. The latest version, NEC3 is now endorsed by governments and the industry worldwide and has a track record for delivering projects on time and on budget.

On June 22, the NEC will introduce NEC4, which has been created as a response to feedback from the industry. The new version focuses heavily on collaboration and generates opportunities for the sharing of cost savings.

The NEC has introduced two new contracts into its suite of contracts, one of which is the Alliance Contract, where all parties will sign up to one single contract and work (hopefully) as one genuine team, with the potential for shared cost savings acting as an incentive.

Focussing on collaborative working will encourage all parties to work together in achieving objectives, sharing both risks and benefits, which along with cost saving and fair payment will benefit the customer as well as the developer and contractor.  I’m hoping this will act as a catalyst for the industry in the post Brexit period.


Another welcomed change is introduction of Dispute Avoidance Boards. The industry has a reputation for disputes which, to an extent, this is not wholly deserved.  My experience is most people want to do a good job at a fair price. The reality is that construction is very different to manufacturing – there are far more uncertainties and on occasions, disputes arise. The Board helps parties find a solution to disputes. It also provides recommendations, but it is up to the parties whether they accept them or not. In my opinion, the involvement of a third party is very helpful in resolving disputes at an early stage.

Parties are free to continue using old versions of the NEC contract, but generally, the changes to NEC4 are a good balance, benefitting both parties. It will be interesting to see the full extent of changes when the contract is released and see how the industry reacts to using it, after all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

9th June Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Ever since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, the procurement landscape has been changing with public sector bodies now requiring contractors to deliver ‘added value’ as part of contracts.

Social value is about having regard for the social, economic and environmental well-being of communities in the procurement process, it’s not just about the lowest cost any more. The public sector has always had the option to consider the additional benefits to a community through procurement, but the introduction of the Act finally made it a requirement, to ensure that authorities get best value from public spending by also benefiting the community.

The industry provides huge social value opportunities for local communities, the local economy and the environment. Opportunities could be anything from; providing training or work experience opportunities for unemployed people and employing apprentices to using local suppliers or recycled materials and engaging with local schools or community groups – it really could be anything that will be beneficial to the local area or community. Employment, skills and living environment make up three of the seven indices of multiple deprivation as defined by the UK Government back in 2015. As an industry, we have the partnerships and the skillset to make such a difference in these key areas.

I’m a huge advocate of getting young people into the industry, so projects that help get young people to the career ladder, whether it’s through employment opportunities or giving them the training and skills to seek jobs in the future, really appeal to me. But, that’s what it’s all about, thinking of what the industry or area needs and submitting project tenders that will do everything they can to help us get there.

Constructing Excellence in the North East are holding an event next Thursday (15 June) to discuss the requirements under the Social Value Act, how it’s affecting procurement and how the construction sector can help the public sector meet its aims and objectives of creating additional value. Guest speakers include; Darush Dodds, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Added Value at Esh Group, Michelle Brennan, Project Five Consulting, who specialises in Social Value and works across the sector developing positive approaches towards a more sustainable built environment and Karen McCarthy, Regional Manager, Career Ready – a charity that works to increase the employability of students through engagements with businesses and industry professionals. Karen works with a number of schools and colleges across the North East and is keen to link them all with employers to help prepare young people for the world of work.

For more information or to register your interest please contact Amy Holmes on 0191 500 7880 or amy@cene.org.uk.

2nd June Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Last week we were lucky enough to have some of the nicest weather we’ve had so far, this year, with temperatures reaching 25C last Friday. While most of us who were keen to get outside, and envied workers who were free from the confines of an office, it’s worth remembering that the hot weather, as nice as it is, poses certain risks to outdoor workers, and like any other aspect of health and safety, must be managed correctly.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises employers to:

  • include sun protection advice in routine health and safety training, informing workers that a tan is not healthy
  • encourage workers to keep covered up during the summer months — especially around midday
  • encourage workers to use sunscreen
  • encourage workers to take their breaks in the shade, if possible
  • consider scheduling work to minimise exposure
  • keep workers informed about the dangers of sun exposure
  • encourage workers to check their skin regularly for unusual spots or moles that change and to seek prompt medical advice promptly if concerned.

For employees, the HSE highlights its sun protection six-point code as follows, advising workers to:

  • keep their tops on since clothing forms a barrier to the sun’s harmful rays
  • wear hats with brims or flaps to cover the back of necks and ears
  • stay in the shade, whenever possible, but especially at lunchtime
  • use a high factor sunscreen of at least factor SPF 15 on exposed skin
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • check their skin regularly for unusual spots or moles which may have changed

Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. It can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering and skin ageing and in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK with over 50,000 new cases every year. Construction workers are six times as likely to develop skin cancer, so something as simple as applying sunscreen, could make all the difference.

The suggestions from the HSE are definitely a good place to start, but it’s important to just pay attention to how you’re feeling in the heat, if you don’t feel right, hydrate and have a rest in the shade. You know your body best so don’t push yourself too far, the project might take a little longer to get finished, but the important thing is that the project is finished by a fit and healthy workforce.  With effective health and safety planning, outdoor workers will enjoy a pleasant, healthy and safe summer – unless we get a typical British summer, then we’ll have nothing to worry about.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.