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What is BIM?

April 29, 2024

What is BIM?

Building information modeling, also known as BIM, is revolutionizing the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. But what exactly is BIM? In simple terms, BIM is a process for creating and managing information about a building project throughout its entire life cycle. It goes beyond just 3D modeling – it's about creating an intelligent model that captures all the physical and functional characteristics of a building, as well as associated data like materials, costs, and maintenance schedules.

Why is BIM Important?

Traditional construction methods often rely on 2D drawings and siloed information, leading to inefficiencies, communication gaps, and costly errors. BIM bridges this gap by providing a central platform for all project stakeholders – architects, engineers, contractors, and facilities managers – to collaborate and share information. This fosters a more streamlined workflow, reduces errors, and improves overall project outcomes.

The Common Data Environment (CDE) is a crucial component of the BIM environment, with a major focus on collaboration. The CDE makes it possible to have live collaboration for multiple stakeholders in the project with access control to work, review and approve. A well organized CDE will have space for documents, models, drawings, reports, families and the list extends to anything that is relevant to the project. The next important part is file naming convention that has to be followed throughout the project.

The basic structure of the proposed CDE and file naming convention is mentioned in the ISO 19650-2 which can be referred to and a detailed explanation of CDE is provided in the blog: How to Manage the Common Data Environment and why it matters?


  • Cost Savings:
    • Up to 20% reduction in project costs due to reduced rework, improved efficiency, and better material management. 
    • 4-5% decrease in estimation costs when utilizing BIM compared to manual estimation. 
  • Time Savings:
    • Up to 50% improvement in project delivery time due to streamlined processes, clash detection, and the potential for prefabrication. 
    • Up to 80% reduction in time associated with quantity takeoffs, resulting in faster and more accurate cost estimates. 
  • Clash Detection:
    • BIM can reduce clashes by up to 70%, leading to fewer costly on-site changes and avoiding construction delays. 
  • Sustainability:
    • Studies suggest BIM can help improve a building's energy efficiency by up to 50% by optimizing design and simulating performance.
    • BIM can lead to significant on-site waste reduction (90%) through more accurate material estimation and optimization.

How Does BIM Work?

BIM revolves around creating a central intelligent 3D model of the building. This model isn't just a visual representation; it's enriched with data about every element – walls, doors, windows, MEP systems (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing). This data allows for:

Clash Detection: Identifying and resolving conflicts between different building components before construction begins, saving time and money on rework.

Improved Design and Decision Making: Visualizing the building virtually enables better design decisions and facilitates stakeholder feedback.

Enhanced Cost Estimation: BIM allows for accurate cost calculations based on the model's data, leading to better budgeting throughout the project lifecycle.

Facility Management: BIM data can be used for ongoing maintenance and operation of the building, optimizing energy use and extending the life cycle of the asset.

Benefits of BIM

The advantages of BIM are numerous:

Reduced Errors and Rework: Improved communication and clash detection minimize errors during construction.

Enhanced Collaboration: A central information platform streamlines communication between project stakeholders.

Improved Project Efficiency: BIM facilitates faster project completion and reduces overall costs.

Sustainable Design: BIM allows for analysis of energy use and facilitates sustainable building practices.

Better Facility Management: BIM data provides valuable insights for optimizing building operations and maintenance.

Key benefits


  • High Initial Costs: Investment in BIM software, hardware upgrades, and staff training can present a significant financial entry point.
    • How to Overcome:
      • Consider phased adoption and leasing options for software and hardware.
      • Invest in training for existing staff, providing continuous learning opportunities.
      • Explore funding options like grants or partnerships.
      • Calculate potential ROI to demonstrate the long-term benefits.
  • Lack of Expertise: There's a shortage of skilled BIM professionals across various roles (architects, engineers, contractors, etc.).
    • How to Overcome:
      • Involve the team to engage in Continuous Professional Development Courses to upgrade their skill-set and knowledge pertaining to BIM.
      • Partner with BIM consultants to bridge the skill gap of Employees.
      • Recruit new talent with BIM proficiency.
  • Resistance to Change: Some industry veterans may be hesitant to adopt new workflows and technologies.
    • How to Overcome:
      • Secure leadership support to set a clear vision for BIM adoption.
      • Clearly communicate the benefits of BIM to all stakeholders.
      • Start with pilot projects to demonstrate value before full implementation.
  • Interoperability Issues: File compatibility and seamless data exchange between different BIM software can be a hurdle.
    • How to Overcome:
      • Establish clear data exchange standards and use open formats (like IFC).
      • Invest in software platforms that prioritize interoperability.
      • Coordinate file exchange and data management protocols early in the project.
  • Legal and Contractual Issues: Traditional contracts may not adequately cover BIM responsibilities, ownership of models, and liability.
    • How to Overcome:
      • Develop clear BIM execution plans (BEPs) that outline roles, processes, and standards.
      • Update contracts to incorporate BIM-specific terms and conditions.
      • Seek legal guidance to ensure agreements protect all parties.

BIM is no longer a novelty – it's becoming a standard for modern construction projects. By embracing BIM, AEC professionals can leverage the power of data to create better buildings, streamline workflows, and deliver projects more efficiently and cost-effectively. As the construction industry continues to evolve, BIM will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the built environment.

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