Avvir Academy
March 10, 2022

What is BIM and its benefits to Construction | Building Information Modeling

Across the design and construction world, BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a critical and even a required element to ensure the planning, design, and building construction is highly collaborative and efficient. 


Construction Blueprints to CAD to BIM

Historically, 2D drawings and blueprints were used to express information on construction building plans. This approach was innovative for the time yet made it challenging to visualize requirements and dimensions. The introduction of computers brought CAD (Computer-Aided Design), which helped drafters see the benefit of plans in a digital environment.Later on, CAD turned 3D, turning blueprints into realistic visuals. Today, Building Information Modeling is the industry standard— but it is much more than just a 3D model.


Read on to discover what BIM is in 2022, how BIM is utilized and what BIM levels mean to the future of construction. 


What is BIM in 2022?

BIM is short for Building Information Modeling or Building Information Management and enables a highly collaborative process for construction teams to build within one collaborative data environment. Engineers, architects, real estate developers, manufacturers, contractors, and related construction professionals collaborate throughout the project lifecycle to successfully plan, design, and construct a structure.


BIM also spans the operation and management of buildings using data to manage the lifecycle of a building that extends beyond construction and into maintenance and expansions. This data allows stakeholders to make informed decisions based on information derived from the model.


What is Lifecycle Management with BIM? 

These are all of the different stages of the building process where we can utilize BIM information. From conceptual design, through construction, to operation and back in the form of renovations, the BIM is meant to be a digital twin of the actual building. The level of information contained within the BIM should be appropriate to the lifecycle stage in which the BIM exists. For example, it is likely not appropriate to model construction logistics like cranes and hoists until the asset has progressed towards the “Build” stage. 


BIM - Lifecycle Management

What is BIM? Collaboration


For example, an architect inputs the design and specifications, a contractor will overlay a deeper level of coordination. They might overlay schedule information, and an owner will require the model at handoff to help document their assets. 

BIM - Collaboration

To further facilitate collaboration -- building information models are typically hosted on the cloud or what we refer to as the Common Data Environment, which allows for better collaboration and easy data access. More to come on this point.


How is BIM Information Shared?

As mentioned earlier, a BIM’s information is shared between stakeholders in a space known as a common data environment (CDE). Information models are used at all stages of a building's life, from inception to operation— and even renovations and renewals.


The BIM also has different maturity levels regarding how groups utilize it as a model and process for construction. Below are the different levels and what makes them unique.   


What are BIM Objects

The BIM consists of a series of components containing both spatial geometric information and material specifications. In addition, BIM software updates the model to reflect changes to any element, allowing consistency in the model and heightened coordination throughout the entire process. As a result, architects, MEP engineers, structural engineers, project managers, designers, and contractors can work more collaboratively.


BIM Objects & Embedded Data

The "Information" in BIM

The power of BIM lies in the actionable information it provides to all stakeholders and the process it offers all stakeholders involved in the construction and lifecycle management of built assets, working collaboratively and sharing data. From conception to completion— all the collected information isn't just stored in a silo; it's actionable for the stakeholders.

BIM benefits to construction


Having structured data and extracting information in the BIM brings many benefits: 


What are BIM Levels?

Different "maturity" levels of BIM can be used for various construction projects and represent unique criteria that demonstrate a particular BIM level. BIM levels start with 0 and end at 6D BIM and indicate how effectively or how much information is managed and shared throughout the entire process.


BIM Levels 0-3

Below are brief descriptions and explanations of the levels and what criteria are involved at each stage.



Level 0 BIM: No collaboration and using Paper-based drawings

The lowest level of BIM means there is no collaboration. For example, if you're using 2D CAD and working with drawings and digital prints, you can safely say you're at level 0. However, most of the construction industry is working above this level, which requires professionals to obtain sufficient BIM training. In addition, these projects do not include using BIM in contract specifications either.


Level 1 BIM: Some 3D modeling and 2D construction drawings

Working Level 1 BIM typically means using 3D CAD for concepts but drafting production information and other documentation in 2D. CAD standards of BS 1192:2007 are managed, and data is carried out electronically from a common data environment (CDE) usually handled by the contractor. On the other hand, many firms are at Level 1 BIM, which doesn't involve much collaboration, and each stakeholder publishes and manages their data.


Level 2 BIM: Teams work in their 3D models

BIM Level 2 highlights a greater collaborative environment. BIM Level 2 was a mandatory requirement for all publicly tendered projects in 2016 and 2017 in the UK and France.


Team members at different firms use 3D CAD models but sometimes not in the same model. However, how stakeholders exchange information differentiates it from other levels. For example, information about the design of a built environment is shared through a standard file format.


Level 2 Benefits:


Since data is shared, the CAD software must be capable of exporting to a standard file format, such as COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) or IFC (Industry Foundation Class).

BIM Level 3D - 7D
BIM Levels 3D - 7D

Level 3 BIM: Team sharing a 3D model

BIM level 3 increases the amount of collaboration used. Instead of each team member using their own 3D model, stakeholders use one shared model for the project in a central environment that is accessed and modified by everyone. Open BIM refers to another layer of protection added against clashes, adding value to the project at every stage. 


Level 3 Benefits:


Adding in scheduling, cost, & sustainability information at BIM Levels 4, 5, and 6 


BIM level 4 brings"time" into the information model and includes scheduling data that helps outline how much time each project phase will take or sequence components 



Level 5 Benefits:


Level 6 BIM information helps calculate the energy consumption of a building before being constructed. This ensures that designers take more than just the upfront costs of an asset. In addition, level 6 BIM provides accurate predictions of energy consumption requirements and empowers stakeholders to build energy-efficient and sustainable structures. 


Level 6 Benefits:

Level of Develop (LOD) - Get Everyone is on the Same Page 

LOD creates a standardized definition of what completion means and eliminates chances of discrepancies associated with completing projects. LOD is the “standardization” key to enable different teams to communicate with greater clarity to avoid differences in definitions of precision and accuracy. LOD is structured to minimize errors with the help of a numerical lexicon which designers and end-users of a BIM model share for common understanding. Think, rules for dialog. 


If used without a proper LOD specification in place for standardization, 3D BIM models can cause major mistakes or simply turn out to be less significant for the entire build team. With proper LOD specifications, the accuracy, precision, and value of the entire BIM process as well as 3D models can be enhanced substantially for the entire lifecycle of a project.

BIM benefits to construction


Why is BIM important to the Built Environment: 

BIM allows for more transparency throughout the building lifecycle by making information more accurate and accessible to all parties involved. 


The value of BIM is demonstrated through many outcomes, including:



Owners

The number one benefit for Owners is saving money since BIM allows for a more efficient way to design and build projects. This cuts down on errors in design and construction, saving the building owner substantial money. In addition, BIM allows the project team to search for conflicts and eliminate them before construction starts when mistakes are much more costly. Owners also benefit in maintaining the database of their assets through BIMs in order to efficiently manage operating facilities. 


VDC Managers

The immense value of BIM comes when you connect the workflows and stakeholders. As a result, VDC Managers should promote and facilitate the use of BIM from Design to Build. This helps reduce the risk of information loss as the model progresses between stakeholders and provides the ability to add detail and context to the model as it coordinates the project lifecycle.


Architects

Architects and Engineers use Building Information Modeling (BIM) throughout the design process to help improve quality and accelerate design processes with integrated workflows for concept design, modeling, multi-discipline coordination, and construction documentation.

Contractors

According to a Dodge Data & Analytics report, BIM helps contractors increase their projects' quality, productivity, efficiency, and safety. You can also minimize errors, reduce rework and save costs- something which 40% of contractors can achieve using BIM.



Facility Managers

BIM helps maintenance teams and facility managers increase their productivity by centralizing all facilities information around a cloud-based, intuitive 3D representation of the property.


Project Managers 

Today, more than ever, project managers have options available that allow them to measure construction progress. From tracking the completion percentage to verifying the accuracy of as-built construction, much of the data necessary to keep projects on schedule can be captured without setting foot on the jobsite.


Today’s Reality and Future of Building Information Modeling 

The benefits are transformative for BIM to continue innovating construction from project planning, construction to enhancing structures and facilities for the long-term. 


Building Information Modeling is dramatically more than technology—it’s a complex design and construction process that helps stakeholders collaborate to create innovative structures and buildings of the future. To summarize the five major benefits of BIM in the design and construction process, they include:

  1. Cost and resource savings and waste reduction  
  2. Shortening project lifecycles with greater efficiency 
  3. Improved project coordination and communications 
  4. Increasing opportunities for modular construction and prefabrication
  5. Improving construction safety & increasing quality results 

When you work with firms that use BIM during the construction process, your resources will likely go further. If you want to build a dynamic structure as efficiently as possible, take a closer look at what BIM construction can do. The transformation is happening today and will continue to evolve tomorrow.

3 Tips for using BIM as a Database throughout the Project Lifecycle

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