What is BIM?

I hear you, what is all this BIM stuff and why should I care, you ask? You’re not the first one, I’ve been there too. Hi, My name is Bryan, and I’m what you might call a “lazy BIM-er.” I never went to school for architecture or engineering; I learned everything I know about BIM from watching YouTube tutorials and reading online. I want to share my knowledge with you so that you can learn about BIM too!

Below, I’ll give you my perspective on Building Information Modeling (BIM) and how it can help you improve your projects. Sound good? 😃

1. My perspective on BIM

BIM is like a 3D Lego set that you can use to design your dream home 🏡, office building 🏢 or spaceship 🚀

Well, sort of.

BIM is actually short for Building Information Modeling, a process of creating and managing digital representations of physical structures.

Sounds complicated, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. With the right guide, anyone can learn BIM in no time flat. And I’m just the guy to teach you.

Let’s say that you’re building your dream house. You have all of these different people working on it – the architect, the engineer, the contractor, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if they could all share one common set of plans? That’s kinda what BIM does – it helps create one master set of information that everyone can access and update as needed. This means less confusion and fewer mistakes. Imagine that you can also use that data to run and maintain your property more efficiently! 😃

2. A Brief History Of BIM

BIM started out as mostly just a way to create a 3D design, but it’s evolved into so much more. BIM now consolidates many information management practices to streamline design, construction, and building handover processes.

It’s also being used for asset management and facility management.

Some people are even using BIM to support Intelligent Buildings and Smart Cities!

Crazy, right?

But seriously, Building Information Modeling is a robust process that can be utilized for many tasks and it’s getting massively more popular every day 🏆

Building Information Modeling BIM processes
Above are a collection of diagrams showing both old and new Building Information Modeling processes

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

Let’s first take a look at who uses Building Information Modeling in their work.

3. Who uses BIM?

The list below is not comprehensive because many companies now employ BIM for a variety of purposes; nevertheless, it is a good start:

  • Architects use BIM software such as ArchiCAD and Revit to create three-dimensional models in order to be more efficient in their design activities, optimize buildability, and manage a lot of construction data throughout the development process.
  • Engineers use tools like Tekla to create BIM and analysis tools like ETABS to check the structural integrity of a BIM.
  • Contractors use BIM to create Clash Detection reports using BIM tools like BIMTrack, BIMCollab, Dalux, NavisWorks, and Revizto. They also plan/track construction logistics using 4D simulations with tools like Synchro, communicate building progress, verify compliance with construction documents, and create as-built 3D models with data for handing over to the owner.
  • Building Owners use BIM software like FM:Systems and Autodesk Tandem to collect building data and many others to manage building performance, energy consumption, and life cycle analysis – more on that in my Digital Twins blogs! 😃

So we can see that there are a lot of different authoring and BIM performance/BIM analysis software tools that can help review models – here’s a team using some BIM tools during a collaboration workshop:

Arup team using Building Information Modeling BIM on the big screen
A team from Arup using Building Information Modeling – showing Revit in 2D and 3D

You might be wondering what in the world all of that means and how teams can actually implement BIM. Let me dig into a little more about the practical implementation and potential challenges.

4. Challenges Implementing BIM

Going “digital” is fantastic, but some risks are associated with using BIM.

What challenges does the use of BIM present and how can they be overcome?

Building Information Modeling? What in the world is that, you ask? Here's my perspective on BIM! What can go wrong when implementing BIM building information modeling
There are so many things that can go wrong, and some even refer to these as “Evil BIM” – Photo by Danielle Dy Buncio

BIM implementation can cause a massive cultural change within an organization – here are some of the top barriers to implementing BIM:

BIM BARRIER DESCRIPTION
No Client Demand If the client does not require BIM, adding it may appear to be an additional cost that can be eliminated. This one is amusing to me since the purpose of adopting should be about the advantages you will obtain as a firm, not the other way around!
Lack Of Training Not everyone in the design and construction industry is a BIM expert yet. This can lead to difficulties on a project and errors. There’s also a scarcity of skilled individuals in BIM management in general.
Cost To Implement BIM can cost you a little more to begin but the long-term advantages will quickly become apparent. Getting over the initial investment barrier is important but can be difficult in tight markets.
Poor Interoperability If different computer systems are not able to share information with each other, it can lead to legal disputes. This is because the systems might not have the same information, which can lead to misunderstandings.
Legal Uncertainty While the field of BIM is still in its early stages, there are not many legal precedents to go by, resulting in more legal, workplace, and organizational uncertainty.
👆 These Are Just Some Common BIM Barriers

But don’t let that scare you!

There are a number of methods for overcoming these barriers and ensuring that your BIM implementation is a success.

Having a BIM Building Information Management system can help!

The most important practice to avoid many of these issues is to employ a BIM Execution Plan or “BEP”/”BxP” for short.

The BEP/BxP helps organize the planning process, define the deliverables/requirements, and helps align the teams.

So don’t worry, everything should go great if you have a BEP! 😃

You can read more about why you might need a BIM Execution Plan here:

Why you need a BIM Execution Plan (BEP)
Read about the top reasons for a BEP HERE

So, what’s next?

Now that you know a little more about building information modeling, what challenges to overcome, and who uses it – you might be wondering what the core benefits are for teams that implement BIM?

5. The Advantages of Using BIM

The benefits of using BIM are massive here are four of the big benefits:

  1. Communication: BIM is like looking into the future 👀, since it allows people to conceive and express ideas in three dimensions, which is how we think! BIM helps teams avoid unpleasant surprises and give the project a higher chance of success!
  2. Coordination: BIM allows the Architect, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and many(!) other disciplines to ensure that everything fits together before starting on-site – this helps avoid costly rework!
  3. Construction Management: BIM allows construction professionals to track building progress, verify compliance with construction documents, and plan/track construction logistics!
  4. Facility Management: BIM allows property managers to manage building systems, identify and correct building deficiencies, track occupancy, and plan future modifications!

So, there you have it – there are many advantages of using BIM, but how can you learn more about BIM?

6. How can you learn to BIM like me? 😃

You can pay for training from a Building Information Modeling software vendor like Autodesk, Graphisoft, Trimble, or one of their partners. You could also look for a training course from an organization like the AIA, AGC, RICS or you could go for something from a standards provider like BSI or a BIM consultant or if you’re like me and looking for some free options maybe try a video or two from this YouTube channel! ⏯

In addition, there are many books on the subject if you prefer to read 📘

And obviously, the best way to learn is to read more of my postings on building information modeling! 😁

7. Is BIM worth the investment?

The future of BIM is pretty clear – Building Information Modeling can be a huge investment for companies – in both time 🕗 and money 💵

However, the benefits of using BIM will outweigh the costs ⚖️ as long as you have a great BIM plan in place!

Companies that can effectively use BIM will see increased coordination, communication, and management efficiency – this all leads to fewer building defects and a decrease in building costs.

I say – if you’re looking to future-proof your career and want to join a digital transformation movement that will be around for many years to come, then yes, BIM is worth it! 👍

Bryan

So, what do you think? Is BIM worth your investment?

Now I’ve shared my perspective on BIM, a little of it’s history, who’s using it, and why. Hopefully, you’re thinking about how you can learn to use BIM just like me. If not, let me give you one more good reason: you can earn more money if you know about BIM!

Hey, the future of BIM looks bright, and there’s no doubt that those ahead of the curve will reap the benefits.

And if you don’t have the budget for full-time training, this free BIM Management training course might be just what you need! 🎉 You can learn at your own pace and get certified as an Information Manager 💪

Good luck on your journey into the world of BIM! ✨

QUICK SUMMARY “What Is BIM?” FAQs

What is Building Information Modeling (BIM)?

BIM is short for Building Information Modeling, a process of creating and managing digital representations of physical structures. In other words, it’s like a 3D Lego set that you can use to design your dream home 🏡, office building 🏢 or spaceship 🚀

Who uses Building Information Modeling?

Architects use BIM to create 3D models to ensure buildability. Engineers analyze BIM to check performance, stability, and efficiency. Contractors use BIM to create Clash Detection reports, plan/track construction logistics using 4D simulations, communicate building progress, verify compliance with construction documents, and create as-built models for handing over to the owner. Building Owners use BIM to store building data and manage building performance, energy consumption, and life cycle analysis more on that in my Digital Twins! 😃

What are the benefits of using BIM?

Here are four of the main benefits of using BIM:
1) Communication: BIM is like seeing into the future – BIM allows teams to conceive and express ideas in three dimensions, which is how we think!
2) Coordination: BIM allows all design disciplines to ensure that everything fits together before starting on-site – this helps avoid costly rework!
3) Construction Management: BIM allows construction professionals to track building progress, verify compliance with construction documents, and plan/track construction logistics!
4) Facility Management: BIM allows property managers to manage building systems, identify and correct building deficiencies, track occupancy, and plan future modifications!

I blog for the Five BIM Bloggers series.

Every week we share different perspectives on important BIM topics!

To hear our views first, Join Free or follow Plannerly!

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