How To Explain BIM To Your Grandma

Sometimes it can be difficult explaining what BIM is to non-BIM’ers. Here’s a little story that could help explain BIM to your grandparents, family or even your boss?!?

Grandma: What is this “BIM” thing you always talk about?

Me: Well… [long pause]

“BIM” is short for Building Information Modeling – and er…

Maybe you’ve started a conversation like this too?

I then remembered at high school my Design Technology teacher, Mr Ormrod, taught us about physical prototyping. 

In nearly every industry we are trained to prototype a few times before we build the final product.

Me: Well Grandma BIM is kinda like a prototype – the goal is to find errors and reduce cost before building.

At high school we even went on a field trip to the Lotus car factory to see some prototyping in action! 

BIM Prototyping

This is great but we chose to work in the design and construction industry – not manufacturing!

For us we usually design and then work out all the mistakes during construction.

Rework is included in most pricing and contracts – sometimes at about 30% waste 😱

Can you imagine a contractor building the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) a few times in a remote location before building the real one in downtown Dubai?

Burj Khalifa

Getting back to the conversation with Grandma:

Grandma: How do you create a prototype for a whole building?!?

Me: Well… [medium pause]

They’re actually digital prototypes.

Burj Khalifa BIM

Grandma: Digital prototypes? How does that work?!?

Me: Well Grandma why don’t I just show you an example of BIM?

(56 seconds later)

Grandma: I see, so BIM is this “Revit” software thing?


Grandma: BIM is just simply a quicker way to create 2D drawings??


Me: Sorry I see that the software demo might be confusing – BIM* is actually so much more than just building the digital prototype.

Once the 3D model is created it can be used for everything from winning a project to analyzing how people would move through the building and from clash detection to automatically generating quantities for estimating construction costs – it’s pretty cool! 

Some popular “BIM Uses”:

Ten BIM Uses

Grandma: Ok, now I’m a little confused! How do you organize all of this?

Confused About BIM?

Me: Well – to simplify the whole BIM process we create a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) to capture the who, what, when, where and why.

Grandma: Oh that B.E.P. sounds important – something that you should probably Plan Early?

Me: That, Grandma, is a fantastic point – yes, everyone should Plannerly

Explaining BIM To My Nanna

I think my Grandma now understands a little more about BIM but just in case you need more details here’s the more formal answer from the BIM Dictionary:

*Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a set of technologies, processes and policies enabling multiple stakeholders to collaboratively design, construct and operate a Facility in virtual space. It is an intelligent 3D model-based process that usually requires a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) for owners, architects, engineers, and contractors or construction professionals to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

More details:

For more information on how to simplify BIM and BIM Execution Planning (BEP) here are some resources that our industry uses:

Where would you like to start?

Plan BIM


BIM Project Scope


BIM Schedule


Lean BIM Kanban


BIM Validation


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