The digital revolution within the UK construction industry continues to gather pace. While the agenda is being driven by the government as the largest single procurer of construction works, building information modelling (BIM) will inevitably affect private developments of all sizes in years to come, as the modelling of property assets in digital form becomes the norm.

From 4 April 2016, all tendering suppliers for centrally procured government projects are required to demonstrate collaborative 3D level 2 BIM maturity. BIM level 2 typically involves each party using separate 3D CAD models and exchanging information using a common file format. The models may include cost, programming and/or lifecycle information.

To assist the industry in complying with this objective, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills has launched a BIM level 2 website, which contains information on BIM and provides access to a free suite of documents including British Standards and Publicly Available Specifications (PAS): see http://bim-level2.org/.

The site also provides links to the CIC BIM Protocol, the Outline Scope of Services for the role of Information Management and the Best Practice Guide for Professional Indemnity Insurance when using BIM.

Ultimately the site is intended provide “a common and clear point of reference for BIM documentation, standards and guidance created in partnership with the BIM Task Group”.

The government’s core aim is to significantly reduce the cost of construction projects, by detecting design inconsistencies at an early stage and accurately predicting running costs. In doing so, the government is seeking to maintain the UK’s global leadership in digital construction.

Ultimately it is hoped that BIM level 2 will be a stepping stone to BIM level 3, sometimes referred to as “Open BIM”. Open BIM involves all consultants working on a single fully integrated model. In the 2016 budget, the government committed to spending £15 million over the next five years towards developing Open BIM.

From a contractual perspective, it is important to ensure that consultant appointments and building contracts are reviewed and amended to reflect the use of BIM level 2 on a project. For example, in all cases it is recommended that a suitable BIM protocol (such as the CIC BIM Protocol) is incorporated. BIM level 3 represents a significant step forward from level 2 and is consequently is likely to require much more significant contractual changes.