What is BIM?

Do people really know what the ‘buzzword’ BIM actually means? Senior Architectural Technologist Mark Vaughan explains its crucial role within the construction industry today.

Building Information Modelling

BIM is an umbrella over the construction industry – it’s how we design, deliver and hand over projects.

If you look on the internet, in most instances you will find the following definition: ‘the process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places’ but what does this mean?

There is an industry wide misconception that this means generating a 3D model. The limitations of BIM far exceed the simple generation of a 3D model and if used to its full potential can provide a user with a 5D environment to extract information from. Traditionally, buildings were designed through 2D methods. These methods were not just through 2D drawings but through technical data sheets, specifications, schedules, reports and so on. The objective of BIM is to consolidate all of this information into a virtual environment. I would personally term this a ‘Building Database’.

BIM illustration

The major benefits of BIM are that it supports the design and construction process from beginning to end and beyond, for all parties involved, allowing:

Project Sponsors

  • More control over the design by inputting brief information, rules, desires and constraints into a designer’s models
  • More control over progress through the ability to receive regular objective measurements and reports
  • A better visual understanding of the design intent
  • To receive a better, more coordinated end product


  • To collaborate and co-ordinate more efficiently
  • To explore and track multiple options from conception, in more detail and at a rapid pace
  • Fully co-ordinated models with all disciplines (clash detection)
  • To provide detailed information on components and materials
  • The ability to produce accurate visuals, quickly and at any stage of the process
  • An intelligent scheduling process which is both speedy and accurate (if it is on the drawing it is on the schedule and vice versa)
  • A reduction in mistakes


  • To provide project sponsors with accurate costs
  • To protect their profitability by costing more accurately
  • To develop phasing strategies and undertake virtual rehearsals including material deliveries
  • Entry to the BIM models to gain better understanding of what has been designed/detailed
  • Improved efficiency of offsite manufacture
  • To reduce waste
  • To undertake virtual risk assessments
  • To reduce mistakes on site and therefore reduce changed orders, through clash detection

Project Sponsors/FM

  • To manage defects within the build as and when they occur – reducing investigation works
  • To improve speed and accuracy of any future developments – again reducing investigation works

To summarise, BIM allows all parties involved to plan the construction in more detail, foresee any issues that may arise as early as possible, provide a database of information for any person involved to extract from and provide a better understanding of what the end product will ultimately be (or already is).

All the above said, you will only get out of BIM what you put into BIM, which is why it is so important for designers, contractors and project sponsors alike to fully understand the software and its potential. The UAE is a difficult market with regards BIM, mostly due to the fast track Design & Build programmes that take place in the region and a lack of BIM awareness. With an incredibly strong team of Chartered Architectural Technologists here at BSBG, we pride ourselves in being the market leaders and continue to drive our clients forward, helping them to understand BIM and reap its benefits.

Image taken from : http://www.directionsmag.com/entry/why-we-care-about-bim/368436