BIM and its role in the construction industry

BIM and its role in the construction industry

Has the take-up of building information modelling (BIM) in the construction industry matched the government’s stated ambitions in this area? Jennifer Jones, barrister at Atkin Chambers, considers the issues.

With the sector becoming more accustomed to the use of BIM, has BIM exposed the potential of technology to reshape the construction industry?

There is no doubt that uptake of BIM is becoming more widespread. However, it is far from universal.

For example, the UK government set a target of April 2016 by which all public sector centrally procured construction projects were to be delivered using BIM Level 2 (collaborative working but no single shared model), the intention being both to improve standards and also more effectively to manage project costs and achieve savings. In its March 2016 Budget, the government affirmed its commitment to moving towards BIM Level 3 (fully collaborative working across all disciplines using a single shared model) in the future.

Despite these dates, the results of the recent BIM+ and Construction Manager survey, entitled ‘BIM: What Clients Really Think’and freely available for download online, give a more nuanced picture. The authors surveyed about 100 construction clients across the sector and found that although BIM is being integrated into contracts, both uptake and confidence remain low. Indeed, almost half of respondents scored themselves as having limited confidence or below in using BIM.

As such, although there have been many predictions that BIM will reshape the industry, I would not say that we were there as yet. Rather, as uptake increases, and as users move towards BIM Level 3, we are likely to see an increase in digital collaboration altering the industry more slowly. I do not expect a complete re-shaping but more of a gradual process that will develop over time.

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