REUTERS | Mike Blake

BIM: mind the gap

As Building Information Modelling (BIM) continues to become one of the hottest topics in the construction industry, the stark differences between the aspirations of government and the readiness of the industry to implement BIM become even more apparent.

Before the Christmas break, I took a look at ownership rights and BIM. This post now highlights some of the issues that arise when different members of a project team have reached different levels of readiness.

The future

In the future BIM world, all members of the professional and construction team will have invested in compatible technology, will have trained their staff, and will have fed design information, costing and programming information and other material into the single, centrally managed BIM.

The present

But the industry is some way off achieving this nirvana. While many larger organisations are already well up the curve, even they have some way to go to achieve the ultimate fully-integrated BIM level. For the majority, it is going to take many more years for them to reach this level of development. The barriers to full BIM implementation are considerable – including purchase and installation of hardware and software, cost, training – to mention just a few.

The benefits

While the ultimate benefits to the industry may be considerable – cost savings, predictability, better design, reduced waste, greater carbon efficiency, less confrontation, whole life cycle management and many more – the path to fully integrated BIM projects is likely to be a long one.

Mind the gap: levels of preparedness

In the meantime, professional team members, contractors, and sub-contractors with design responsibility will find themselves at different stages of BIM preparedness. There will be a small gap between some and a huge gulf between others.

Different levels of BIM development will require different approaches. BIM rules and protocols will have to be developed to suit specific projects and the BIM level to which the team is operating, or capable of operating. The responsibilities of the various members of the project team in relation to BIM management will need to be agreed and documented to reflect the realities.

Standard approaches will develop over time

While standard approaches to BIM issues will develop over time, there will be no “one size fits all” during the transition to fully integrated BIM. Each project and each contract will be different, reflecting the nature of the project, the client’s expectations and the BIM level to which the project team and the client is aspiring.

The journey ahead

Ultimately, integrated delivery means integrated responsibilities and integrated contracts. However, in the short to medium term, there are likely to be a number of stops along the way to the ultimate BIM destination. The journey will be worth it, but some clear thinking and attention to detail at the outset will be necessary if building owners are to create and maintain adequate protection for design and integration failures and if professionals and contractors are to successfully commit only to obligations that they are ready to meet.

One thought on “BIM: mind the gap

  1. Continuous improvement for the construction industry and its advisers means learning from the past, being inspired by the present and innovating for the future. There will be always be times when not everyone within the industry is moving forward at the same speed, but that is no reason not to move forward.

    The benefits of BIM for all parties, including advisers, are very clear and the disadvantages can be dealt with pragmatically.

    If you want a view from the middle see http://www.thenbs.com/topics/BIM/articles/bimSmallPractice.asp.

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