About BIM

Building Information Modelling

BIM is an acronym for Building Information Modelling and has received a number of definitions of the past 5 years spanning a broad spectrum of ideas.  When BIM was formally exposed to the industry following the Government Construction Strategy in 2011, many organisations associated it primarily with buildings, prompted by much of the terminology used in it’s definition and forthcoming industry guidance documentation.  However, as time has moved on and guidance updated it is clear that BIM is relevant to the whole built environment and affects not only the construction of projects but also the operational, environmental, business and social outcomes of a built society.

The UK construction industry is renowned for being aggressive, adversarial and extremely wasteful; driven primarily by the contractual appointments, time consuming & repetitive tasksand numerous transactions between a vast supply chain of many tiers.  The inefficiencies of our industry have been studied and published a number of times, with recommendations from the Latham report (Constructing the Team, 1994), the Egan report (Re-thinking Construction, 1998) and the Wolstenholme report (Never Waste a Good Crisis, 2009); all of which identify common themes of how partnering and better collaboration can eliminate waste and deliver more value to construction clients.  Despite the overwhelming evidence of a better way of doing things, the UK construction industry has continued to work in traditional ways and subsequently fallen behind the advances of other industries such as aerospace and automotive.

The UK’s biggest construction client

Finally, in 2011 the UK Government forced a transitional change for the industry by issuing a pending mandate for all projects procured by Central Government to be delivered using fully collaborative 3D BIM by April 2016 (later to be termed as Level 2 BIM maturity);

“Government will require fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016.”

(Cabinet Office, 2011)

The objectives for this change were to improve information production and coordination, promote collaborative teams and leverage the benefits of technological advancements to achieve 20% savings through the capital expenditure phase of construction projects.  Guidance on the processes and procedures for achieving such savings were then to be phase released during the coming 5 years to April 2016.

“The Government’s Plan for Growth, published alongside Budget 2011, highlighted the critical importance of an efficient construction industry to the UK economy. The construction sector is a major part of the UK economy. It represents some 7% of GDP or £110bn per annum of expenditure - some 40% of this being in the public sector, with central Government being the industry’s biggest customer.”

(Cabinet Office, 2011)

With the UK Government being responsible for such a large portion of construction spend, this mandate prompted a wave of tier 1 designers and contractors to become early adopters in this new way of working as many of them bid for Government projects such as schools, hospitals, and the UKs infrastructure.

Focused on technology and 3D models

The terminology “3D BIM” appeared to drive the early adopters into focusing on the immediate benefits of 3D modelling such as better visualisations and automated clash detection.  Such procedures were great and paved the way for other model based functions such as 4D simulations (visualising the build) and planning site logistics and visual method statements etc.

However, the Government mandate was not solely about these 3D driven benefits, but more so about having better, well structured information at handover to increase efficiencies through the operational life of the facility and assets.  This would later become the focal point as standards were released and the deadline approached.



Interestingly the first British Standard focused on collaborative information sharing is BS1192, released in 2007.  Experience tells us that this was widely ignored by organisations, thought to be hampered by conflicts with internal standards and contractual interests.  It is at this point that I wish to highlight that if different organisations have their own standards; there is no standard.  This is a stark message which needs to be absorbed by the industry as we can only overcome our disorganisation through a standardised approach.

BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 (recent addendum) focuses on common naming standards for files and layers, and the processes involved in sharing information using a Common Data Environment (CDE).  This standard forms the fundamentals in better information management and is a requirement for Level 1 Information modelling maturity.

Over the 5 yearperiod following the Government mandate, the following standards were released forming the fundamentals of Level 2 information modelling (plus all referenced standards within):

PAS 1192-2:2013 - Specification for information management for the capital/deliveryphase of construction projects usingbuilding information modelling

PAS 1192-3:2014 -Specification for information management for the operational phase of assets using building information modelling

BS 1192-4:2014 -Collaborative production of informationPart 4: Fulfilling employer’s information exchange requirements using COBie – Code of practice

PAS 1192-5:2015 -Specification for security-mindedbuilding information modelling, digital builtenvironments and smart asset management

Download Standards Here:       http://bim-level2.org/en/standards/

As these standards were released, the focus on data and information became apparent, with the early adopters now thinking of facility management and how to produce a reliable COBie dataset.  Many of these standards are still misunderstoodtoday, and for many who are yet to start their journey a maze of acronyms and confusion.

We can help you to understand what all this means……

However, many of the processes required for successful BIM delivery need to be driven by the clients.  This is where one of the biggest obstacles is; many clients don’t really understand what they’re asking for when requesting BIM.

Back to basics

Some things to remember when thinking of BIM to keep you on track:







Cabinet Office. (2011) Government construction strategy [online]. The Cabinet Office,London. Available from:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/61152/Government-Construction-Strategy_0.pdf[Accessed 03January 2018]