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What is BIM and why should you care? (Just as much about maintenance as it is about the actual construction)

Everyone in the construction industry that has come into contact with BIM has an opinion about it. Whatever that may be, what is BIM and why should you care about it?

While it is easy to get the impression that BIM is a technology, it is more of a process that applies to all aspects of the construction process. This includes initial designs and estimates through the ongoing maintenance of a building. As long as a structure is there, it can benefit from BIM in some way.

At its core it is about improving collaboration and reducing inefficiency. As the construction process is complex with many people involved, it is difficult to keep track of information, update it regularly and ensure its accuracy. This means it isn’t just architects and surveyors that should care about BIM. It is also relevant to the work done by materials manufacturers, construction supply chains, and even people involved in the legal and financial aspects of construction, such as attorneys and insurance companies.

Using BIM helps to reduce costs from the start of the project to the ongoing maintenance. As maintenance costs will eventually exceed the cost of the original project, it is important to keep these from escalating. BIM helps to give more insight into the lifecycle of a building that can be used for budgeting, and more proactive planning of maintenance. It also helps future projects as the data from what has already been done can be extracted and used for estimates and modelling. It also increases the quality of the project by cutting down on the amount of rework that is done.

When BiM is used correctly from the start of a project, it will decrease historic inaccuracies for people working on the structures in the future. It also means quicker access to this data as people have less searching for it when it is centrally held in BIM.

BIM hasn’t reached its full potential yet, so even if you don’t care now, it will be difficult to ignore. There is still much that can be done for BIM to include even more aspects of the built environment, such as street furniture. There is also capacity for it to be used to more in public engagement in public works projects.

As a process, BIM should change the way you look at a building and its lifecycle, making it a more holistic and collaborative effort rather than individual efforts existing in isolation. BIM is a process that can make a big contribution to every building and the overall world we live in. This is an opportunity to contribute to and share a great vault of collective knowledge that can be transferred from project to project and transform the overall working process.

As technology changes and improves, so will BIM’s capabilities making it an even more streamlined and integrated process.