BIM has been around for almost twenty years and was pioneered in the USA using indigenous software. In 2011 a new construction report produced in the UK highlighted the benefits of BIM and how it will greatly save building costs. The UK government then legislated for it to be adopted to level 2 for publicly funded projects by 2016. The EU are now advising member states to look at countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and Finland with open BIM standards incorporating the many different software applications used within Europe.

In many countries the use of BIM standard software will be a legal obligation for all public projects and, almost certainly, for all big projects. BIM is not a unique software but a new standard of design and communication between different parties.


Technology is ever improving with data storage and management becoming increasingly easy and more accessible. BIM is allowing the construction industry to take advantage of new technology in much the same way as other industries already have. Computers are prevalent in the design of almost everything, digital models are used to test the aerodynamic performance of aeroplanes or the fuel efficiency of the newest cars. Like-wise BIM enables construction professionals to collate and process information to an unprecedented level previously impossible using existing methods.

Today it is possible to locate virtually any product in a search engine and view its specifications. The next logical step is to have systems to handle and carry that information over without having to replicate it where it can then be managed and processed. BIM functions on this principal with information gathered at the start of a project, appended through its course and compiled for future use on completion.


One issue in the building industry is communication. Poor communication can lead to two major problems: time waiting for information to arrive and costly errors on site.

BIM is a method to communicate information about a project which decreases delivery times and greatly reduces costly site errors. New technologies have allowed for communication to occur between any two points and within seconds. The industry previously relied on telephone calls and physical mail to collaborate on a project; it has now progressed to using email and using CAD to communicate. The next logical step is for all this information to come together digitally as it does using BIM.

People are already using BIM to communicate now with the eventual goal of progressing to a real-time digital working environment. Engineers can see how a structural system works around the architect’s spatial organisation and construction strategy by working on a single model which will spawn all the drawing content and information. This model can be hosted in the cloud where it is readily accessible through the internet for all collaborators.


BIM enables the design process to be more efficient by automating tasks and avoiding replication. A 3D model is created and then classified with information about its origins, then the model’s development and finally installation. This data is all used for the project’s prototyping stage, validation and ultimately the building’s maintenance.

3D geometry should be the basis from which all 2D geometry is derived. It enables minor changes to be made, say moving a single door, and the drawings will easily update without having to edit each individually. There is a lot more information in the 3D model and it is a closer representation of reality. This saves time and also reduces the risk of human error.

Replication is eliminated and this benefit is felt most when the information is gathered live from source. This results in time saved and reduced risks. Automatic referencing means that the information only needs to be changed at a single point and this once more eliminates human error.


BIM is generating a connection between capital expenditure, the cost of the building, and operational expenditure, the cost to run the building over its life-cycle. This is achieved in having every ounce of information about what was actually built in the BIM model and then that BIM model is archived as a resource. From here the performance of the complete structure can be tested and the model be utilised for facilities management.

This will create better performing more energy efficient buildings and the improvements for facilities management contribute by enabling the building to be better operated.

Excerpt for HM Government UK Construction Strategy 2025

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