BIM - Building Information Modelling

BIM stands for Building Information Modelling

BIM (building information modelling) is the new global standard for the management of a building from design, throughout its entire lifetime. Costin Roe Consulting adopted BIM approaches and processes for all new engineering projects many years ago, using the CAD system Revit. More than 80% of current Costin Roe Consulting projects are fully BIM-compliant.

The five dimensions of BIM

Traditional building design relied upon two-dimensional drawings, such as plans, elevations, sections, etc, to give three-dimensional representations. By the late 1980s, 3D modelling and “virtual building” experiences became more commonly available. The early architectural CAD system, ArchiCAD, facilitated not just more exciting and informative virtual walk-throughs of a building design on the computer screen in 3D, but the exchange and inter-operability of information in digital format – the origins of BIM as we know it today.

BIM essentially embraces the three primary spatial dimensions (widthheight and depth = 3D), adding time as the fourth dimension (4D), and cost as the fifth (5D).

The US National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee defines BIM in these words:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition. What BIM means to property developers, building owners, and building managers is a virtual ‘x-ray view’ into the attributes of every material component and method used within the construction.

To give a simple example of how this can work: should a leak develop somewhere within a BIM-compliant building – even many decades following the completion of construction – reference to the building’s BIM file could quickly identify the source of the leak, produce a specification for the replacement part, and direct tradesmen to the nearest point of access. The resulting benefits include a minimum of disruption and remediation required, and therefore minimum cost.

Indeed, the lifespan of all materials and components used in the building can be predicted through BIM forecasting, allowing the realistic and timely planning of maintenance schedules, and more reliable budget forecasting.

BIM also facilitates collaboration between different disciplines. In architecture, structural engineering, and construction, BIM data is crucial to decision-making at all stages of building design and concept development, engineering through to project completion, and the building’s management beyond.

BIM allows those involved in the design and planning process to change variables in materials and methodology within a virtualised scenario, incorporate time/cost/life-expectancy factors, and see how changes in variables will affect structural integrity and component performance, aesthetic longevity, and maintenance-cycle issues – including cost forecasts – throughout the building’s lifespan.

The added value of BIM in the engineering process

“Costin Roe has used BIM for decades,” said Grant Roe, director of Costin Roe Consulting, “but overall there has been a long period of transition. This is because older buildings were not designed and built with BIM in the first place. It’s not always practical, nor even possible, to retrospectively compile all the inputs required to make an older building BIM-compliant.”

“New builds can be managed in a BIM environment from the very first stages of conceptual development. We still occasionally encounter building designs that have started out as plans on paper but then transposed to BIM as a matter of course. All of our engineers are thoroughly adept at working on projects in a 100% BIM environment.”

“Having a building or complex of buildings that are totally BIM-compliant is of immense value to property developers in the first instance. With BIM, building owners are given the ability to foresee and budget for any maintenance issues that are likely to arise at any point in the building’s lifespan, no matter how far into the future. Any future changes or modifications to the structure are easily facilitated,” Grant said.