Over 150 CAB members and their guests met at Salts Mill, Bradford, the home to a large collection of David Hockney’s art, for a reception and dinner following a packed mini-conference entitled ‘The Changing Face of Specification’. The unanimous member feedback afterwards was that the evening had represented one of the best added value meetings that included high quality networking, detailed knowledge and clinical insight that could be taken straight back to the work place and implemented.
Following a technical presentation from Patrick England, CAB’s Technical Consultant, and a CAB Members update from Justin Ratcliffe, CAB’s Chief Executive, the mini-conference covered the topics of the growth of social media in specification and the rise of BIM for construction design. Both topics are rapidly changing the face of specification in the UK.
The first speaker, Su Butcher, a specialist in social media with a background in architectural practice, offered an inspiring presentation of how to communicate with specifiers to gain not only specification but referrals. CAB set up the hashtag #CABevent where discussion took place during and following the event. Over just a few days the 133 tweets sent relating to the event reached close to 40,000 accounts highlighting the opportunities in social media.
Simon Lerwill of Davis Langdon, outlined the role of the specification writer. He explained to delegates the differences between ‘prescriptive’ and ‘descriptive’ specifications and whilst specifications are ‘prescriptive’, they often become ‘descriptive’ when value engineered by main contractors and clients to keep costs down. Simon also reminded the delegates that honesty is key and if your product cannot do the job, say so, as you will often be asked again on another project. If a product is promoted and does not meet the specification, the door to future work with that contact is firmly shut. Finally he outlined key advice for ensuring your specification had an improved chance of actually reaching site – currently the figure is only about 20%.
Richard Blakesley of Howitt Consulting together with Nick Allen and James Blood of Metz Architects offered a demonstration of how BIM works in practice and the need for CAB members to look at ‘virtual products’ which will interface with the BIM.
All speakers referred to the need to reduce costs in the building supply chain which could be achieved by procurement perhaps through social media or in the design stages using BIM. CAB’s membership is committed to ensuring that best practice is always embraced to ensure a competitive edge in a difficult market.