Building Information Modelling (BIM) – what all the fuss is about…

In a very short space of time, BIM has certainly made a splash in the construction industry around the world. So, what is BIM – it stands for Building Information Modelling. Professor Chuck Eastman of the Georgia Institute of Technology is generally attributed as the founder of the term BIM; Eastman defines it as “a modelling technology and associated set of processes to produce, communicate and analyse building models”.

 What is BIM?

More than a simple 3D model of a project, 5D BIM is now a hot topic with Cost and Scheduling being the additional dimensions and recognised as integral parts of a successful project. A project developed under the BIM process/model can now include:

  • a 3D design
  • the technical specifications of all the mechanical items that are to be included in the project; for example it may give the model numbers of all the fans in the structure as well as their capacities and their expected life in terms of operation as well as showing where each of them is in the 3D design
  • the cost estimate
  • schedule information
  • specification details of what is to be constructed, and
  • contract conditions.

Who will be using BIM?

While the roots of BIM lie in Architecture it is now gaining momentum over the globe and in many industry segments.  Mandated by Government departments in the UK, US and Singapore, many other countries including Australia are starting to see the huge benefits of BIM and taking initiatives to implement BIM processes with Government support. When working on a BIM project the different personnel involved will all utilise the BIM process and data:

  • Designers of projects will be creating a BIM model.
  • Specifiers will be including the specification and contract conditions within the model.
  • Estimators will be using the model as a basis for the preparation of their prices and also for the submission of their bid.
  • The winning contractor will be using the model as the basis for construction, as well as noting details of actual componentry that is installed during the building process, and the model will also serve as a Works as Executed record.
  • On completion of the work the contractor may hand the model over to the asset owner who may then issue it to seek prices from facilities or asset management contractors.  They will then update it progressively and it will serve as a continuing, accurate record of the state of the project at any particular time during the whole lifecycle.

This, of course, is just an example of the uses of a BIM model, there are many other people and uses that can tap into the model during the life of the project.

Why is BIM so good?

Previously a project has been made up of a set of 2D drawings. Because it is 2D every drawing had to be understood by someone reading it and people needed to link the drawings in their mind. Information was scattered everywhere – for a project you would have the architectural drawings, separate structural, civil and HVAC drawings etc. The architect would have joinery, colour, door, window schedules etc. In every case users would have to read the schedules and in their mind put it together. With BIM, where that element is shown in the model, we will see all information about it including its relationship with other elements of the project.

But wait there’s more….

Over the next few months we will explore more about BIM and if you have any questions please comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them.