BIM: It’s all about the builder

Matt Pennell, UBM

Written by Matt Pennell, UBM

Up until recently the stereotypical BIM evangelist has been a senior architect working in a large practice. This community has seen joined up parametric software as a lifesaver, liberating them from painstaking chores such as inventory checking or repeatedly amending technical drawings by hand. They’ve shouted the loudest, as BIM has made their working lives easier, and made the production of design cheaper and easier.

In the background contractors have been quietly pleased with BIM too, pointing out is ubiquity – not just as a integral tool on buildings but on civils work too, such as motorway widening where it guides earthworking.  BIM has the potential to be used on any built environment project, but it particularly lends itself to buildings that are simple and functional, rather than ornate. Inaugural Chief Government Construction Adviser Paul Morrell had the vision to spot this, and being a BIM evangelist he mandated its compulsory use on public sector building projects after 2016.

Across construction BIM-use is exploding – up from 13% to 31% in the last two years according to the NBS’s National BIM survey – an even greater growth rate will be required to reach 100% compliance in the public sector which has hitherto lagged behind the private sector. This is one of many reasons that major contractor BAM has made a major commitment to BIM and BIM Show Live (BSL), specifically. BAM, who has a historical strength in the UK schools and healthcare sectors, is set to send 30 delegates to BSL. This is a reflection on the multi-functional nature of BIM, with different specialists working across the four key stages.

Interestingly BAM doesn’t see BIM as a mere construction tool, Stage 4 – Operate and Maintain – is important to the company which is overseeing a myriad of PFI maintenance contracts. Kath Fontana, Managing Director of BAM FM and keynote speaker at BSL observes, “The data that BIM extracts from the construction process has far-reaching potential for understanding our built assets, and to transform our management capabilities. With BIM, gone are the PDFs, CD-Roms and nigh-indecipherable spread sheets that have made it hard to locate assets within a building, to know who supplied each one, to work out its maintenance programme and optimise its usage before ultimately replacing or repairing it in a cost efficient manner.”

Thus BIM goes hand in hand with a transformation in the role of contractors, who used to aspire to finish a building on time and rush off to the next project. Now in many cases they have to take responsibility for the building during the operational phase. Since the start of PFI era contractors have now become concerned about whole life costs and ‘soft landings’.  Ideally this would benefit the end user due to a synergy between the build and maintenance teams – the functionality of buildings would improve and remain in a better state throughout their working life. This potential is yet to be realised but perhaps it’s now within reach as Fontana adds, “Despite our best efforts, there has been a long term disconnect here between the construction industry, the clients they build for, and the teams that provide facilities management. Into this Bermuda triangle the data disappears. But the risk of all this data being less than perfect is borne by the customer. And it is this that we are on the cusp of changing forever.”

So there you have it – you already knew BIM was changing design and project management forever. Now it’s weaved its way into the fabric of construction and maintenance too. Every type of project team lead now sees a benefit from BIM and we look forward to seeing the build and FM communities converge on this year’s BSL.

For more information and to book your delegate place, please visit:


One thought on “BIM: It’s all about the builder

  1. Pingback: BIM Content creation is here! | YourCad

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