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The term BIM is an acronym that traditionally meant Building Information Modelling. Over recent years the ‘M’ has been replaced with many others words including Management, and the ‘B’ with other letters such as A for Asset or P for Project, and you will find many different definitions of BIM if you search the web.

Regardless of the definition, BIM is about streamlining the communication of information throughout the life of an asset, with the focus on the 'I' or Information.

BIM brings to the construction industry the benefits and improvements that smartphones and tablets have brought to the communications industry over the last few years. Although technology plays a key role in the implementation of BIM, an organisations ability and willingness to adapt to cultural changes will play a much bigger role in determining if BIM will be a success.

In asking "what is BIM?" it is easier to highlight the key differences between a traditional project and a BIM project. The following are extra over prerequisites to implementing BIM:

  1. Software Platform

    Choosing a software platform that is capable of supporting the below.

  2. Coordination & Collaboration

    Linking of design information between disciples with coordination of services and building components.

  3. Interoperability of Data

    Specifying software and file formats that can be used cross platform.

  4. BIM Uses or Apps

    Use of process beyond 3D modelling such as quantity take off, time phasing, energy, or lighting analysis 

The Government has set a mandate that by 2016 all government construction projects shall utilise BIM to what it is calling ‘Level 2 BIM’. This mandate is driving an evolution in the capabilities of the construction supply chain that will benefit both public and private sector clients.

  • Who else is doing this?

    BIM4Retail was set up in Aug ‘11 to help ASDA, B&Q, M&S, Next, and Waitrose / John Lewis collaborate and learn from each other. The government has mandated BIM on all projects by 2016 as part of a 20% reduction in build and maintenance costs. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is one of the early adopters and has seen significant cost reductions already.  More information can be found at

  • Is BIM for Construction only?

    No. There are 4 stages that work well with BIM: Plan, Design, Construct, and Operate. The linkages of construction information to Facilities Management (FM) are fundamental to efficient management. The conversion of existing assets to BIM yields substantial benefits in terms of FM, planned preventative maintenance, energy analysis of existing assets, Procurement, and modelling for refits/extensions etc.

  • What benefits am I likely to see?

    It depends how efficient you are now and the extent to which you adopt BIM and the Tools. Retail clients can expect to see a 10% reduction in build cost, 2-3 week reduction in design time, Zero clashes on site, reduced project risk, reduction in prototype hosting and development costs when linked to consultant scope of services. 

  • What are BIM Tools?

    As an analogy, BIM is like buying a smart phone or tablet. You chose the manufacturer (iPad, Windows, Nexus etc.), and then you can buy the apps (applications) that you need for everyday use. With BIM, it’s the same. You decide on the platform (Autodesk Revit, Bentley etc.), and then you purchase your apps like CostX (Costing), Synchro (Phasing), IES (Energy Analysis) etc. depending on your business needs. It’s these ‘Apps’ that are referred to as BIM Tools.

  • How much will it cost?

    It will cost as much as you are prepared to spend. You can’t buy BIM in a box like a copy of MS Office or Windows. You need to understand what you want to improve in your business and see if there are BIM Tools out there to help you. You should only pay for something if it gives you a net benefit.

  • What isn’t BIM?

    BIM is not Autodesk Revit, it isn’t just a 3D visualisation. BIM also isn’t a silver bullet that will solve all construction problems.

  • What is BIM?

    Building Information Modelling is about creating and maintaining a digital asset from the first time an asset is conceived, all the way though to decommissioning.