BIM: What is Building Information Modelling?

In the world of architecture and construction you hear the acronym BIM thrown around a lot nowadays. 

So much so, that it has become one of those terms that not everyone necessarily understands, but they nod their head along politely to avoid looking stupid!

In this article we’re going to give you a run through of what BIM is and the impact it has had on the construction industry. 

Why is BIM required in the construction industry?

Prior to BIM, architects would use CAD drawings (Computer aided drafting) to create graphical illustrations that they would present to clients and change as required. The confirmed drawings were then what contractors would work from over the lifecycle of building the project. 

The problem was that different contractors would want the information presented in a slightly different way; Architects would want graphical drawings with elevations, builders would want isometric drawings of the buildings geometry all the way through to interior designers wanting 3D models.

Prior to BIM, each stage would involve the contractor going back to the Architects drawings and starting the process again in order to gain the information they needed. When you look at the bigger picture this was extremely cumbersome and inefficient. It meant adjustments could lead to lengthy delays, and cost savings on materials were sometimes overlooked due to the time it would take to analyse the impact.  

While on smaller domestic properties the handling of CAD drawings is still manageable the difference of introducing BIM is really evident when you look at large scale commercial projects. 

This impact is so big that the Scottish Government has integrated it into its strategy in order to achieve its carbon net-zero, apprenticeships and efficiency targets, with all local contracts having to follow the process.  The UK also has a joint vision to become a global leader with the BIM approach to construction. 

What is Building Information Modelling?

BIM is essentially an intelligent 3D model-based process that digitally stores functional and physical components of a building. 

A construction project that utilises BIM enables collaboration throughout the journey from initial design concepts through to handover of the completed building.

The BIM process  involves digitally plotting every step of the buildings development, including intelligent 3D models, documentation management, contractor coordination and budget handling.

Where CAD drawings are effectively stationary, BIM is a data led process that allows it to be digitally dynamic. This means that when a contractor makes a change in one area, the impact can instantly be seen in all other areas of the building, helping to reduce risks by identifying issues in the planning stages.

This means that architects and contractors can easily explore different design options and help stakeholders not only visualise the end result, but also easily analyse the impact on costs, their carbon footprint, timescale and employability of the project. 

Related Article: Advantages & Disadvantages of using BIM

BIM vs Revit 

BIM often gets slightly mistaken for being a technology that creates 3D modelling, when it’s  actually a digital process. 

Revit is one of the most popular softwares that enables the process. The software enables users to create an intelligent model with data stored in it, helping to minimise conflicts, improve building efficiency and create cost savings.

10 Key Benefits of Using BIM in Construction 

  1. Improved communication and team work 
  2. Dynamic monitoring of changes in design
  3. Project visualisation
  4. Clash detection 
  5. Collaboration between trades and contractors
  6. Improved Safety 
  7. Simulation of ‘live’ building 
  8. Faster project delivery 
  9. Minimised errors from data loss
  10. Reliable budget control 

More Information: Advantages & Disadvantages of using BIM

In Summary

BIM is a digital process that enables teams from across the construction lifecycle to collaborate and create buildings in a smarter and more efficient manner. 

The increased utilisation of the BIM process in construction has dramatically decreased the amount of waste, and has driven forward building performance in the UK.

McKenna Group personnel are thoroughly trained and committed to using the BIM process, collaborating with main contractors, architects and clients directly on a daily basis. The data collected along the way has enabled us to streamline operations, improve communications, promote greener technology and make cost savings for our clients. 

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