What is BIM and how does it benefit construction?

When answering the question, why use BIM you need to take a step back and fully understand the meaning behind it.

When answering the question, why use BIM you need to take a step back and fully understand the meaning behind it. Many people will argue that BIM is a misnomer. “Building” BIM is not exclusively used for buildings, it is also used for infrastructure such as bridges, railways, roads, etc. so this is not entirely accurate. “Information” probably the most fitting of all three words covers one of the most critical parts of BIM which is the information and data that is stored in your model. And “Modelling”, while this is a key area, it doesn’t cover all of what is involved in a typical BIM job. Areas like management, processes, and communication are equally as important to the success of a BIM job.

Integrated Project Delivery With BIM
image: BIM Process Diagram, provided by Autodesk, based on IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) developed by AIA (American Institute of Architects).

Key aspects of a BIM job:


In a typical BIM level 2 project you will have a group of stakeholders who each have the responsibility of creating and maintaining their own PIM (Project Information Model). In order to ensure each stakeholder is following the same core processes, a guidance section in the BEP must be provided. This will offer guidance on how often models and information should be shared, naming convention and status of files. It should also set out the roles within stakeholder teams, assigning titles such as project information manager, task team manager, etc.

Roles & Responsibilities:

PIM (Project Information Manager)

  • Managing project processes and procedures for information exchange
  • Initiating and implementing the Project Information Plan and Asset Information Plan
  • Assisting in the preparation of Project Outputs e.g. data drops
  • Implementation of the BIM Protocol, including updating the Model Production and Delivery Table

Employee Representative

  • Identify key decision points
  • Define plain language questions
  • Implement information protocols
  • Information management role appointments
  • Acceptance of the information model

Design Construction Lead

  • Develop the BIM Execution Plan (BEP)
  • Task team appointments and assessments
  • Assigning the level of definition (LOD)
  • Volume strategy
  • The authorisation of the project information model

Project Delivery Manager

  • Master information delivery plan
  • The communication link between task teams
  • Assures the delivery of the information model
  • Ensures task teams have the capacity to deliver
  • Identify and mitigate risks against delivery

Project Information Manager

  • Responsible to the project delivery manager
  • Projects standards, methods, and procedures (SMP)
  • Assure information model compliance
  • Ensure task team has the capability to deliver
  • Identify and mitigate risks against delivery

Task Team Manager

  • Responsible to the design construction lead
  • Ensures delivery against the task information delivery plan
  • Approval of the task team information model(s)

Task Information Manager

  • Responsible to both the design construction lead and the Project Information Manager
  • Point of contact for information management
  • Ensures compliance with SMP
  • Education and training

Information Author(s)

  • Production and or maintenance of information / models / content
  • Coordination of information
  • Escalates issues to ensure delivery
  • Escalates interface issues to the interface manager

Interface Manager

  • Resolving spatial coordination issues with other task team interface managers
  • Escalating unresolved coordination issues to the design/construction lead


In the building services industry, the way people create their models is ever changing. Suppliers from a wide range of areas such as mechanical plant, lighting, ductwork, fire suppression and many more are creating libraries with digital copies of their products which can be downloaded and inserted into a BIM model. The benefit of using these premade model objects includes time-saving, accuracy of the model and the supplies product information which can be contained within the object.

Various model authoring software and add-ins can be used to bridge the gap between engineering design and model. An example of this is calculations of duct flow rates and sizing can be calculated and the results fed live into the model. This gives the designer greater control and increased efficiency.


Communication is, in essence, one of the most important elements of the construction process. Using BIM allows increased understanding for everyone involved with a shared information platform. Documentation quality is increased, there are more accurate images and by using BIM, there is no need to outsource work to create 3D images. These images increase the awareness and understanding of the design phase for all parties and support decision making, functionality and costs at the design phase rather than rework arising at the more costly construction phase.

It is important to note, that although BIM allows team members to identify coordination problems in the model before they appear on site unless the right people are made aware of these issues, the problem will go unresolved. Interface managers from each discipline must be identified at the outset of the project and it is their responsibility to raise these issues at coordination meetings.

Information/data management: 

When thinking about BIM many people tend to focus on the 3D coordination, impressive 3D walk-throughs or rendered images which can be taken from the model. It is easy to forget about one of the most important elements to any model and that’s the non-graphical information. The sky’s the limit when you consider how much information can be stored in the model, but the key is identifying what information is actually useful. From the very beginning of a project until the very end data can be pushed in and out of the model, acting as a dynamic 3D repository for data such as materials, system types, manufacturer information, service dates and so on. The key to this is ensuring you have a clearly defined Information Delivery Cycle.

A practical example of this would be when you create a builders works in a model for a flat pack duct passing through a fire compartment wall. In a traditional CAD job, the person creating the builders works drawing would mark on his drawing which builders works require fire protection by means of colour or a schedule.

Using BIM we host this information in the model element representing the builders works. This information is dynamic, so if the architectural model is updated to change the wall from fire compartment to standard partition, then the builders works automatically appear in the model as non-fire rated.

Another critical aspect of information management in a model is determining what information would be useful to a facilities management company during the operational phase of the project

EDC has experience in implementing Level 2 BIM data management schemes on a range of different sized projects and can help ensure you have a successful and efficient BIM project life cycle from Design through to Handover and Closeout.

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Contact Richard O’Farrell, Managing Director.