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Initiative Aims to Improve Uptake of BIM in Mainstream Construction

The adoption of building information modelling (BIM) by the construction industry has been gradual but steady. Now more sceptical clients need to be persuaded for the technology to enter the mainstream.

The UK BIM Alliance has designed a new guide to make the topic more accessible and therefore easier to adopt.

According to consultant Richard Saxon, the guide’s lead author, greater client awareness is essential to integrating BIM in mainstream construction. The guide demonstrates the available return on investment and the nature of the investment from clients through eight steps.

Mr. Saxon said that other parts of the construction industry essentially understand why they are using BIM but might need additional training to get the most out of it. For example, many architects only use the 3D modelling component and some contractors haven’t started rehearsing construction activities or using BIM for safety briefings. They simply print out drawings instead.

Seeing more BIM in mainstream construction will involve convincing clients that they are adopting a known proposition and not an experimental technology. Some clients allow their teams to use BIM but don’t take time to define what they need from it. While these passive clients get some value, they can realise far more benefit by being active and avoiding risks created by inadequate understanding.

Approximately seven years have passed since the government announced its intention to adopt BIM. Before then, many businesses were aware of the technology but couldn’t get proper instructions from their clients and convey them to their teams.

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The first of the eight steps in the new guides involves growing awareness of BIM by inspiring discussion about what it is and what it can do. Next steps involve strategy-making, fitting out the client office, and the formalisation of digital working. Later sections address the formation of teams, requirements for decision support, operations, maintenance requirements, and creating standards. It also examines issues such as collaborative contracts, offsite construction, and smart buildings.

The guide acknowledges that not every client in the construction industry will be interested in the benefits of BIM or willing to invest the associated costs. But those who want to use digital methods on their projects need to do some investing to realise benefits to the organisation.

The initial investment will be in taking the time to become aware of BIM’s potential for their business and creating a strategy to adopt the relevant parts, including the ability to work with digital information.

Clients can show 3D models and other images to their stakeholders using immersive methods. One example supplied in the guide is the FULmax Cube, which allows teams to experience life-scale models in immersive virtual reality without having to wear headsets.

Once a client can work with digital information, the next step is to formalise digital working. This includes augmenting the standard forms of appointment and contract to account for the changes in traditional obligations and processes. When properly managed, BIM requires all parties involved to understand their rights, especially regarding the digital models. If these duties and rights are not contractually binding, there may be avoidable disputes, unexpected risks, and poor coordination.

Specialists in Construction Insurance


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