BIM – Building Information Modelling Explained

Introduction to BIM

What is Building Information Modelling? Also known as BIM? Some people have the misconception that BIM is a piece of software. However, it’s actually a process. The CITB describes this as “a process that encourages collaborative working between all the disciplines involved in design, construction, maintenance and use of buildings.” If you’ve spent any amount of time studying or working in construction, you’ve probably heard about BIM. When you think of BIM, the first things that pop into your mind are probably 3D model of building

History of BIM

The origins of BIM can be traced back to the development of CAD systems in the 1960s and 1970s. These early systems allowed architects and engineers to create two-dimensional (2D) digital representations of buildings.

In the 1980s, CAD technology advanced to include three-dimensional (3D) modelling capabilities. This enabled architects and engineers to create more detailed and realistic representations of buildings.

The term “Building Information Modelling” began to gain prominence in the 90s. This concept goes beyond 3D modelling and incorporates information about the building’s components, materials, and properties. It was noticed that in construction, the use of independent technology for each project stakeholder, meant there was often a communication disconnect. Something needed to change, something which could being these new technologies together. 

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the construction industry gradually adopted BIM technology. This adoption was driven by the potential benefits of improved collaboration, reduced errors, and better project management.

In 2011, the UK government announced a mandate for Level 2 (BIM) adoption in all publicly-funded central government construction projects by 2016, along with the establishment of the BIM Task Group and the publication of related standards and guidelines.

Features of BIM

BIM is all about data. BIM incorporates information such as materials, dimensions, costs, schedules, and even the energy efficiency of a building. This information is used from design and construction to operation and maintenance and is accessed with varying permission levels by all project stakeholders.

So, how does BIM work? BIM is a collaborative process that involves various stakeholders in the construction industry. Architects, engineers, contractors, and even facility managers all contribute to the BIM model. They can access and update the model throughout the project’s lifecycle.

This collaboration leads to better decision-making, reduced errors, and improved project efficiency. It’s like having a digital twin of the building that evolves with the project.

Benefits of BIM

  • Improved Visualization: Providing clear and detailed 3D representation of the project
  • Enhanced Collaboration: Fostering better communication among all parties involved
  • Error Reduction: With accurate data and real-time updates, BIM helps identify and rectify issues before they become costly problems on the construction site.
  • Cost and Time Savings: by optimizing design and construction processes.
  • And Sustainability: by analysing the environmental impact of design decisions.

BIM Levels of Maturity

It should be noted, BIM integration is an ongoing process. You might have remembered earlier in the blog, I mentioned the UK government mandating the use of level 02 BIM. What is level 02? CITB states that BIM can be measured in levels of maturity: 

  • Level 0 – unmanaged CAD. 
  • Level 1 – a mix of 2D and/or 3D technology with a collaboration tool providing a Common Data Environment (CDE) 
  • Level 2 – collaborative BIM, in which 3D model information is shared within a Common Data Environment. 
  • And Level 3 –  which is still being defined, although it is expected to have more advanced, single point of collaboration requirements and link to further advances such as ‘smart cities’.

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