What is BIM

What is BIM? (Wikipedia Definition)

Within the building industry there is a growing interest in integrated project delivery (IPD) and the role building information modelling (BIM) can play in promoting integration among building professionals and improving design outcomes. BIM is the creation and use of coordinated and computable information about a construction project during and beyond the design and build phase.

Building information modelling covers geometry, spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, quantities and properties of building components (for example manufacturers' details). BIM can be used to demonstrate the entire building life cycle, including the processes of construction and facility operation. Quantities and shared properties of materials can be extracted easily. Scopes of work can be isolated and defined. Systems, assemblies and sequences can be shown in a relative scale with the entire facility or group of facilities.

BIM goes far beyond switching to a new software. It requires changes to the definition of traditional architectural phases and more data sharing than most architects and engineers are used to.

BIM is able to achieve such improvements by modelling representations of the actual parts and pieces being used to build a building. This is a substantial shift from the traditional computer aided drafting method of drawing with vector file-based lines that combine to represent objects.

The interoperability requirements of construction documents include the drawings, procurement details, environmental conditions, submittal processes and other specifications for building quality. It is anticipated by proponents that BIM can be utilized to bridge the information loss associated with handing a project from design team, to construction team and to building owner/operator, by allowing each group to add to and reference back to all information they acquire during their period of contribution to the BIM model. For example, a building owner may find evidence of a leak in his building. Rather than exploring the physical building, he may turn to his BIM and see that a water valve is located in the suspect location. He could also have in the model the specific valve size, manufacturer, part number, and any other information ever researched in the past, pending adequate computing power.

There have been attempts at creating a BIM for older, pre-existing facilities. They generally reference key metrics such as the Facility Condition Index, or FCI. The validity of these models will need to be monitored over time, because trying to model a building constructed in, say 1927, requires numerous assumptions about design standards, building codes, construction methods, materials, etc., and therefore is far more complex than building a BIM at time of initial design.

The American Institute of Architects has further defined BIM as "a model-based technology linked with a database of project information"[1], and this reflects the general reliance on database technology as the foundation. In the future, structured text documents such as specifications may be able to be searched and linked to regional, national, and international standards.

BIM in the UK

In the UK, CPIC, responsible for providing best practice guidance on construction production information and formed by representatives of the major UK industry institutions, has proposed a definition of Building Information Modelling for adoption throughout the UK construction industry and has invited all UK industry parties to discuss it in order to ensure an agreed starting point. The proliferation of interpretations of the term currently hampers the adoption of a working method that will drastically improve the construction industry and the quality and sustainability of the deliveries from the design and construction team to clients.