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What is BIM? (2023)

Updated: Feb 11

The construction and design world is constantly evolving, requiring a certain level of awareness to stay ahead. BIM – Building Information Modelling – has been creating a buzz in recent years, but what is it?

This blog will aim to answer some of your most asked questions surrounding BIM - why it's needed, what it entails - and make clear why this technology is so powerful. But don't worry, it's all in Layman's terms.

What does BIM stand for?

BIM stands for Building Information Modelling. It is a method of digital modelling that allows architects, engineers, and construction professionals to work collaboratively. It helps them create a better understanding of the project design and effectively collaborate to bring it to fruition.

BIM is a system that creates and manages digital replicas of the physical and functional elements of establishments, from buildings to infrastructure to scenery. This technique enables a more efficient way to design, coordinate and control projects or developed goods.

BIM is not just a single tool or software program - it's a method to manage data related to a certain project or asset, digitally. This digital model can help with many stages of the asset's life cycle, such as design, construction, operations and maintenance.

The use of BIM often facilitates better communication and collaboration among project stakeholders, leading to more informed decision-making. With easy access to project information, potential errors and rework can be identified and addressed before construction starts.


Why BIM is needed

What is the need for BIM? There is increasing recognition that it can add value and provide greater efficiency within the construction industry. Many are now looking to BIM to revolutionise how they plan and execute projects, with the potential to create substantial cost savings, time reductions and improved accuracy.

BIM is a process that utilises digital technology to form a shared knowledge resource for professionals in the building industry, thereby enhancing the exchange of information during the design, construction and management of structures and related infrastructures.

Previously, each field involved in the design and construction of a building would create its own set of documents. This caused many issues, such as discrepancies, blunders and unnecessary duplication. BIM was created to eliminate these problems by providing one trustworthy source that all project members can access and modify.

BIM has the potential to streamline communication between various parties, as well as throughout the entire project lifecycle. It can be used to virtually simulate construction, allowing any issues to be identified and addressed beforehand.

BIM provides a number of beneficial effects, from reduced costs to increased efficiency to improved outcomes. All stakeholders who are part of the design, construction, and operation process for structures and infrastructure can benefit from its use.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) employs a digital 3D model to aid in the management of constructing a structure. Utilising BIM can help cut back on costs associated with the project, providing detailed visualisation, enabling early detection of potential problems and minimising pricey blunders.


How BIM works

BIM (Building Information Modelling) is a process that enables collaboration between design and construction professionals to create a digital model for the planning, execution and management of building projects. It uses 3D software to generate a virtual scene of the project to facilitate a better understanding of the project. This strategy also facilitates better communication and coordination between stakeholders, enabling enhanced decision-making throughout the life cycle of the project.

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, enables the development of a computerised portrayal of a real and practical building. This model can be used to examine and estimate how it will act in the real world, thus making the design and fabrication phases more effective and exact.

The BIM process starts with the collection of data related to the projected construction site and any existing buildings. This information can be acquired through surveys, measurements, and other techniques. After all, this has been gathered, it is then entered into a computer program which generates a 3D representation of the area.

This model can be used to analyse the effects that constructing this project may have on the local area. It helps to detect any issues which could arise from it, like traffic or water build-up, so they can be prevented from delaying or damaging the project.

Once the analysis has been done, the BIM model can be used to generate detailed plans which contractors can use to compute costs and architects to visualize the final structure. During construction, it can also be employed to monitor development and make sure that everything is going according to plan.

BIM has gained immense headway in the architecture, engineering and construction fields over recent years. It is now an indispensable asset for any individual occupied with designing or constructing constructions.

As BIM technology advances, designers, engineers and contractors can increasingly access more refined and accurate models. It is anticipated that this tool will become even more beneficial in the future.


What are BIM models?

BIM models are digital representations of physical components that comprise a building. They contain all the information required to design, construct and manage a building, from its architecture to its engineering aspects. BIM models help improve coordination among all players in the construction and management process, providing greater accuracy and efficiency.

BIM models are digital representations of a building's physical and functional characteristics. Utilising Building Information Modelling (BIM) software they can help with various aspects of design and construction, such as facility management, right through to structural analysis.

BIM is a 3D modelling process that provides the necessary insight and tools to AEC professionals so they can effectively plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

The BIM model holds comprehensive data about building components, covering geometry, material properties, spatial relationships and behaviour. This allows for improved coordination between involved disciplines and provides a more reliable prediction of how the building will perform during its lifetime.

BIM models can be utilized by architects, engineers, contractors and other stakeholders to collaborate more precisely, reduce mistakes and create digital simulations to make decisions a smoother process during the design and construction stages.

What are BIM objects?

BIM objects are virtual replicas of physical products and can be acquired from manufacturers or other software developers. Such elements feature parameters connected to the object's shape, materials, and behaviour in the real world. This data is beneficial for simulations that can give an accurate prediction on cost, load and other details about the product. Additionally, it can be found in online databases.

BIM objects are integral to the switchover to Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the construction sector. This process uses 3D digital models for designing, planning, constructing and controlling structures. The objects help create detailed models of buildings and their components in no time and with exactness, letting designers assess multiple design choices and generate precise cost evaluations expeditiously.

What are BIM files?

BIM files are digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of a building or facility. They contain information such as detailed plans, 3D models, material types and more. BIM files are used to provide visibility into all aspects of construction projects to improve efficiency.

BIM files are digital depictions of the physical and functional elements of a building. Architects and engineers can create these models using BIM software; they can also be disseminated among teammates for the generation of construction documents, timelines, and financial estimates.

BIM files are usually saved in IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) or RVT (Revit), which can be translated into other formats, for example, DWG, DXF, and PDF.


Who uses BIM?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is increasingly being employed by a variety of industries and professionals. From engineers to architects, BIM is becoming an important part of everyday workflows.

Businesses that incorporate BIM have experienced various advantageous outcomes, such as enhanced efficiency and productivity, better communication and teamwork, and lower costs. Architecture, engineering, and construction firms are some of the many organizations to adopt this technology, while some real estate developers and owners are also beginning to use it. What's more, certain governments are now making BIM mandatory for public projects.

Moreover, BIM is rapidly gaining traction among facility managers, producers and providers of construction-related products, as well as educational organizations.


When is BIM used?

BIM is used in various stages of the construction process. It can be used during planning, design, construction, and maintenance. In addition to aiding with the building process, BIM can also be useful for future renovations and upgrades.

BIM is utilised throughout the design, construction, and operational phases of a project. It simultaneously integrates multiple disciplines and their software into a single source of data that can be accessed and edited by all participants on the team. This helps to minimise risk and mistakes by providing one reliable source for everyone to use.

During the design phase, architects and engineers utilize BIM to fabricate a virtual replica of the project. This model can be utilized for evaluating various design possibilities and confirming that they meet all the criteria. The construction team utilizes BIM to map out and sync their activities, enabling them to formulate exact timetables as well as cost projections. Plus, the model is useful for pinpointing possible clashes between different trade specialists.

When the project is finished, BIM can assist in keeping facilities running efficiently. The model stores all pertinent data about the building, such as asset specifics and maintenance timelines. With this accessible information, it is simple to identify issues and make plans for future modifications or fixes.

BIM can aid throughout the entire building cycle, leading to increased efficiency, lower costs and aiding the completion of the project on schedule and within the budget.


Where is BIM used?

BIM is employed in a variety of industries, from construction and engineering to architecture. It is a tool utilized for the creation, management, and maintenance of data about built assets.

BIM is utilized in many different fields, such as architecture, engineering, construction, and operations. Furthermore, government departments and other entities also use it to oversee their resources and facilities.

BIM is being used extensively at every stage, from the design concept right through to construction and project management. It has become instrumental in enabling collaboration between architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers and clients alike. Furthermore, facilities managers are taking advantage of its capabilities to monitor the performance and condition of their assets over time.

The rising popularity of BIM can be attributed to its effectiveness in enhancing efficiency, cutting costs, and streamlining the design, building, and management phases of projects.


When is BIM required?

The specific needs of a given project will determine if BIM is required or not. Generally speaking, when there is an intricate design and/or the need for collaboration between several entities, BIM can be helpful. For instance, it might be necessary for a challenging construction from scratch or when revamping an existing structure needs interrelated work.

In many situations, national regulations or industry standards require the use of BIM. For instance, public projects in the UK have been mandated to implement this technology as of April 2016. Alternatively, companies may choose to utilize it for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


What are BIM standards?

What are BIM levels?


When was BIM created?

BIM has been around for a number of years, but it was only during the late 2000s that software with the capability to generate and manage BIM models was made generally available. This has led to its growing popularity among architects, engineers and construction professionals, who now commonly use it for planning and designing structures.


When was BIM introduced in the UK?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) was established in the UK in 2011. Since its inception, it has been highly regarded and widely adopted by the industry.

BIM was initially developed in the UK in 2007 by the government as a means of improving project management effectiveness. It is now used throughout the country by multiple organisations, including private enterprises, local councils and charities.

In 2016, the UK government mandated the use of BIM for all public sector projects, resulting in a substantial rise in the application of BIM technology and procedures throughout the industry.


What is a digital twin?


What BIM is not

There are many mistaken ideas about Building Information Modelling (BIM). Contrary to what some may think, it is neither a specific software nor CAD. It's a process that can be employed by anyone in the construction business to develop a virtual representation of a structure. This model can serve as a means to coordinate the various aspects of the building project from conception through completion and beyond.

BIM is not a design or drafting software, it is not limited to the construction industry, and it does not replace a professional engineer.

BIM is not simply a software product - it’s an approach that can be enabled by different programs. Autodesk Revit and Bentley Systems MicroStation are popular programs employed in this regard, however, other tools like ArchiCAD, Tekla Structures and IFCBuilder can also be utilized.

There is a marked difference between BIM and CAD: while the latter is a 2D drafting program which can be used to generate 3D models, the former is a specialized 3D modelling tool with capabilities that go even further, offering 4D models - complete with time-based information.


How BIM improves communication

BIM has been proven to be a major asset for providing improved communication between members of the construction industry. It helps to ensure information is communicated quickly and efficiently, both within the team and between multiple parties involved. BIM eliminates the need for time-consuming emails or meetings by providing all the necessary information in one convenient location. This greatly simplifies collaboration, streamlines processes and promotes clear communication, allowing teams to work together productively and reach their goals more smoothly.

BIM (Building Information Modelling) is an effective process for enhanced collaboration and communication between members of a construction project. It creates a central repository of data that all team members can access, eliminating the need for lengthy and costly meetings to check information.

BIM promotes collaboration since it enables all team members to have access to the same digital model of the building. This creates an efficient environment where everyone can view and analyse different aspects of the project, ensuring that all relevant information is shared and no miscommunication occurs.

By leveraging the power of BIM, team members can recognize any potential issues before they become major obstacles. This deeper insight into how a project will turn out equips teams to better predict impediments or delays so solutions can be reached quickly and projects stay on schedule.


How BIM helps sustainability

BIM has proven to be an asset when it comes to sustainability. It can be utilized to identify and resolve environmental issues, as well as provide insights into how design decisions impact the environment. This technology effectively assists with integrating green principles into construction and architectural projects, leading to eco-friendly solutions that aid in preserving natural resources.

BIM is an approach to creating a 3D digital representation of a building. It can be useful in tracking the progress of a project, predicting potential issues and making coordination between all involved parties more efficient.

Recently, BIM has been utilized more and more to enhance sustainability in the built environment. Through its use, we're able to simulate how a structure will react to various weather conditions, evaluate any possible negative consequences on local ecosystems that certain construction may have, and pick materials with less of an ecological effect.

BIM can be employed during the design and construction phases of a project to reduce waste, conserve energy, and raise sustainability standards.

BIM can help to streamline the entire building life cycle – from planning to construction, and through to maintenance and improvement. With data-driven insights from BIM, stakeholders can optimise the process and identify cost-saving opportunities, all while helping to reduce environmental impacts.

To sum up, BIM has great potential for sustainability in the built environment. It can be used to examine the complexities of building projects, analyse environmental components, and decrease energy and material waste during the design and construction stages.


10 Ways BIM can reduce the cost of your construction project

1. More Accurate Estimates: BIM helps to provide more accurate estimates of materials, labour, and time needed for a project. This can help you save money by avoiding over-ordering or under-estimating costs.

2. Improved Design Efficiency: BIM allows designers to create virtual models of their projects, enabling them to quickly identify potential problems and make changes early on in the design process. This can help reduce costs by avoiding costly changes later on.

3. Better Collaboration: BIM facilitates better collaboration between stakeholders, helping to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.

4. Streamlined Construction Processes: BIM enables construction teams to work faster and more efficiently, reducing delays and cost overruns associated with traditional methods of construction management.

5. Reduced Re-work: By identifying possible problem areas early on in the design process, BIM can help reduce the amount of re-work that is required during the construction phase, reducing both the time and cost associated with correcting design errors.

6. Improved Onsite Safety: By providing 3D models of projects, BIM can assist in identifying potential hazards before they become an issue during construction, reducing the risk of injury (and associated costs) to workers on the job site.

7. Improved Schedules: Through its ability to generate 4D models, BIM can help provide more accurate construction schedules by predicting potential problems and delays before they happen. This can help reduce the time needed for project completion and save money in the long run.

8. Reduced Waste: By helping to identify materials that are not needed for a project, BIM can help reduce waste and save money by avoiding the purchase of unnecessary materials.

9. Increased Sustainability: BIM allows designers to model a building’s energy consumption before its construction, enabling them to make informed decisions on how best to conserve resources throughout the course of a project.

10. Enhanced Visualization: BIM enables stakeholders to view virtual models of their projects from any angle or perspective to better understand the project as a whole, allowing them to make informed decisions about design changes that may be necessary during construction.


Which countries use BIM?

Many countries around the world are making use of Building Information Modelling (BIM). In Europe, numerous countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands are capitalizing on BIM technology. Further afield, places such as Australia and India have also adopted it.

The use of BIM is not standard across the globe and varies from nation to nation. Nevertheless, those nations known for their extensive utilization of technology are the United Kingdom, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand alike.

The UK government has been a major force in promoting BIM, making its use mandatory on public sector projects since 2016. Likewise, the US has quickly adopted BIM with many private sector companies implementing it into their work processes. Additionally, Canada and Australia have both seen an upsurge in their utilization, as evidenced by several major projects that make use of the technology.

New Zealand's construction industry has adopted extensive use of BIM technology, leading to a range of advantages for the sector. Such benefits include more efficient and productive processes, lowered costs, and a heightened level of project quality.

Countries where BIM is mandatory

In certain nations, the use of Building Information Modelling is a requirement. Such countries mandate its adoption to promote efficiency and sustainability in the building industry. This has enabled the digitalization of processes and enhanced accuracy in development, helping to ensure that projects stay on track.

Certain countries have established laws that mandate the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM). These nations include:

As of 2016, the Australian government has implemented a requirement that any federal project must use BIM.

The United Kingdom government has made BIM use obligatory for all publicly funded projects as of 2016.

Denmark was the world's pioneer in giving the mandate that all public schemes need to be designed with BIM, as early as 2004.

In Norway, legislation was adopted in 2008 which stipulates that BIM must be employed for all public projects, similar to Denmark.

In 2015, Singapore made history in Asia by becoming the first nation to make BIM a mandatory requirement for all public projects. As a result, all public projects must now be designed utilizing Building Information Modelling technology.

It's essential to note that this list of countries who have made BIM compulsory will be likely expanding in the near future, as a consequence of authorities being aware of the advantages of requiring BIM on all construction projects.


Are BIM and CAD the same?

No, BIM and CAD are not interchangeable. BIM is a process that employs 3D data to convey the design of built spaces. Conversely, CAD programs are used to produce 2D illustrations.

CAD and BIM are distinct in terms of how data is created and utilized. CAD is employed to generate a 2D technical drawing, whereas BIM allows for the creation of a 3D model with multiple information layers. This provides increased precision in visualization, facilitates teamwork between stakeholders, and promotes greater coordination of elements in the project.

Are BIM and Revit the same?

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, is a method used to create and manage data related to a construction project. Revit software is designed to be compatible with this process; while they are different, they have close ties.

BIM is a methodology that uses digital tools to create a model of a construction project. This model is a valuable resource to monitor both economic data, such as costs and material quantities, as well as scheduling. Additionally, it can be used for simulations of various building procedures, including the direction of traffic and placement of materials.

Revit is a software application designed to help users create BIM models. It has a range of tools for making three-dimensional models, producing construction drawings and aligning different aspects of a project. This makes it an ideal choice for any kind of construction project – from small residential structures to large commercial complexes.


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