On 4 April 2016 the UK Government's Construction Strategy's mandate for all centrally procured public sector projects to use Level 2 BIM will commence. But what will this mean in reality? What is BIM, who uses it and why has the Government mandated its use? In this post Sarah Rock, Associate in the Construction team at HSF explains more about BIM, why it's important and how we at HSF and our clients use it.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an advancement in digital technology from traditional 2D and 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD). BIM allows for structured collaboration and intelligent 3D modelling of a construction project with a layer of parametric data or information embedded within the objects which make up the model. In simplistic terms BIM can be seen as a collaborative process which results in a 3D model with a spreadsheet of structured data sitting underneath it.

Level 2 BIM requires each design discipline to create their own independent models which can be brought together into one federated project model. These independent models are saved at pre-agreed freezing points and uploaded to a virtual cloud, termed the Common Data Environment (CDE). The other members of the design team then download the models relevant to their practice and lay them over their own model allowing for alignment of disciplines and clash detection at a relatively early stage in the project.

Putting the 'I' in BIM is the crucial part. The non-graphical information contained within the model can include specifications, programmes, cost plans, schedules etc. It is this information that makes BIM different to previous ways of designing and managing built assets. Combining the 3D graphical data with the non-geometric data results in a digital replica of the project from the initial design through to the operation of the asset. The information model can be used to cost the build, plan logistics on site and ultimately by the facilities management team to maintain and operate the building throughout its life time. Having all of this information in one intelligent model brings obvious time savings and benefits to the ongoing life of the asset post completion.

Use of BIM is growing across the construction industry. NBS's National BIM Survey 2015 reported that just under 50% of the industry had adopted BIM on at least one project in the twelve months prior to the survey. Clients are increasingly approaching HSF for legal advice and BIM specific drafting. The move to digitised construction and BIM, in particular, is the natural next step in today's digital world and is being taken by both the public and private sector. This progression brings with it slight changes to process, risk profile and contract documents.

In future posts in this series of blogs we will look at various elements of BIM including what constitutes Level 2 BIM, the legal structure of a BIM project and how BIM competency can be assessed.