BIM - The Basics

Liam Bray
The government’s chief construction adviser Paul Morell has indicated that Building Information Modelling (BIM) will become a key part of the procurement of public buildings in the next few years. This adds to BIM’s growing attention from private sector organisations in the built environment.

What is BIM?

  • BIM is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle
  • BIM creates a digital model that can be used from a project’s early design stages through to completion and monitoring of subsequent performance
  • This model can be used by the design team to design the building, the construction team to model the construction of the building and then the building owner to manage the facility through its life

Design team benefits

The improved visualisation provided by BIM is helpful to all members of the design team during concept development.

Quality of information is also a major benefit because it facilitates faster assessment of design changes, reducing risk of failure, and resulting in fewer change orders.

Cost control becomes more effective at an earlier stage in the design process, with design, constructability and cost achieving a closer and more responsive interface.

Cost benefits

BIM enables the cost management service to fully integrate into the lifecycle of a building. The cost consultant is able to advise the client of the most cost effective design, through true value engineering and improved accuracy of estimates.

BIM can also facilitate improved supply chain management, particularly for clients with repeat procurement models. Improving the flow of information will drive cost certainty and stimulate greater competition.

Councils are now demanding embodied carbon assessments for new developments. BIM can help avoid delays to programme and any unnecessary costs associated. Cost consultants are best placed to produce embodied carbon cost plans, allowing clients to accurately benchmark CO2 per m² for future developments.

Sustainability

BIM can also play a key role in delivering more sustainable projects by helping to reduce waste through better coordination of design, and providing a means to simulate performance against sustainable building codes.

BIM can also play a key role in delivering more sustainable projects by helping to reduce waste through better coordination of design, and providing a means to simulate performance against sustainable building codes.

BIM could enable procurement models to evolve, with features such as automatic specification writing, incorporating sustainable characteristics such as recycled content values, embodied carbon requirements and ‘u’ values.

Culture change

Working with BIM requires a culture change for most stakeholders, with more data sharing than many of the design team members are used to. The team must also be prepared for making key decisions at an earlier stage compared with traditional methods.

BIM changes roles and functionalities, and communication and coordination methods aim to be more open and less linear. Communication will especially change with BIM, whereby all project stakeholders orbit around the live project and communicate in real-time. Transparency, increased collaboration and an enhanced sense of shared ownership should result.

The required culture change will also affect education and training within the cost management profession and we may soon see an industry scramble to demonstrate a state of BIM readiness.