Tell us what you want

If I’m sent to do the shopping, I fill the trolley with delectable treats, and then find my girlfriend wanted bleach, toilet paper and cling film

Being a BIM consultant gives me an insight into a large number of architectural, engineering, contractor and owner opinions of what Building Information Modelling is. The truth about BIM is… you’ve been doing it for some time already. Yet when you get the call from a client asking whether you can deliver a project in BIM, you panic and say yes. Well panic no more, you’re already on the BIM ladder – Level 0 means you produce 2D drawings. If you’ve re-used information by using blocks/cells/components then you can probably call yourself Level 0.5.

This of course is not what most might consider ‘BIM’ – My girlfriend often says: ‘While I’m out, can you do some housework, please.’ I empty the dishwasher and return to the sofa, satisfied with my applaudable contribution.  As I have discovered, what is meant by this statement is not just ‘some’, it’s a full spring clean. Yet the same scenario can be seen in the construction industry. When an owner/operator asks for BIM it’s typically because they either want to reduce the budget or they want some kind of tool to help them manage their building in their preferred FM software. When the architect and engineers hear the acronym they want to deliver the same thing – but by allowing more of the budget to be spent on letting their creativity run wild instead of just draughting and co-ordinating.

If I get sent to do the shopping, I’m inevitably going to wander around the shop filling my trolley with a plethora of delectable treats aimed at scintillating my taste buds. My current priority is to ensure we are never without BBQ food. I’ll come home to find out that, actually, what the girlfriend wanted was bleach, toilet paper and cling film. Management of a building is the same. If you have the architect’s information – doors and windows, for example – the size will be there but not necessarily the manufacturer’s name and part number, which is what the FM team will need to order a replacement.

BIM has always been seen as enabling co-­ordination, but this was typically thought of as being between the design teams. If all the interested parties, from client down to manu­facturer, got together earlier in a project and collaborated on what was required – or even possible – we would start seeing the real benefits. Like my girlfriend’s shopping list, if the government’s BIM requirements are to be met in 2016, we will all have to explain a little more precisely exactly what it is that we expect when requesting a project in BIM.


Daniel Heselwood is associate director at BIM consultancy Evolve