The April 2016 deadline set by the UK government for all centrally procured public sector projects in the UK to be constructed using BIM Level 2 is fast approaching, with BIM Level 3 closely following on the horizon. It is widely regarded as the ‘new era’ for the construction industry providing for a fully collaborative forum throughout the building life cycle; from initial design to operation and even deconstruction.

The benefits of BIM are well documented and include improved cost efficiencies, client outcomes, co-ordination and improved delivery times. Its adoption in the UK has acted as a catalyst for improved change in the way the industry approaches and operates a building project. It is clear that the benefits of adopting BIM are also felt in the wider industry with no less than 92% of organisations in the UK expecting to be using BIM within three years’ time according to the 2015 NBS National BIM Survey published in April 2015.

Understanding BIM

Originating in the US, building information modelling or ‘BIM’ in a very broad sense describes the storing and representing of information relevant to the construction and operation of a building in digital form. The extent to which a project uses BIM will generally dictate its BIM level of maturity, with a higher number representing a greater level of BIM maturity.

BIM Level 0 is BIM in its most basic form using only Computer-Aided Design (“CAD”) documents which are usually shared in hard copy form. BIM Level 1 typically comprises a mixture of 3D CAD for concept work and 2D for drafting and statutory approval. The data is not integrated into a single tool. BIM Level 2 requires each member of the design team developing building information in a collaborative 3D environment that may also include data relating to cost or modelling, but created in separate discipline models. At BIM Level 3, all data is stored on an integrated, web-based system that can be accessed by all relevant members of the construction team, including costs, programme and lifestyle facility management information.

Digital Build Britain

The UK government’s BIM Level 2 target date is ever closer and marks a key step in the trajectory of development for this exciting innovation for the construction sector. In parallel with these technology advances, at the start of 2015, the UK government published the Level 3 Building Information Modelling Strategic Plan which is its strategic high level plan for BIM Level 3, which will be known as Digital Build Britain (“DBB”). DBB will build upon the collaboration of BIM Level 2 and aims to make web-based construction the norm in the UK.

Whilst the extent to which the adoption of BIM Level 2 and BIM Level 3 will impact on professional indemnity insurance (PII) and contractual issues remains to be seen, it is clear from the UK experience to date is that the adoption of BIM can deliver many benefits to clients or employers undertaking construction projects.