CIC Blog: bim

| Filed in Blog, BIM
No more BIM

Rob Charlton
CIC North East BIM Hub Member

 

The term BIM or Building Information Modelling has been in "general circulation" since around 2006/7. The term has done wonders for moving the construction industry towards a digital revolution. We have benefitted from improving hardware and software and emerging generations who don't see technology as an add on but a necessity.

Whilst the term BIM was not first used by Autodesk they invested in the term and promoted it as it very effectively communicated what they were trying to achieve with technology. Clearly with a better understanding of the value of their software and its value sales would increase.

From someone who has spent a career fighting against many of the things considered acceptable in the construction industry BIM and all of the associated software was music to my ears. We bought our first copy of Revit parametric software back in 2000. This was even before Autodesk had bought the company.

The marketing of the term BIM pushed everything up a level with the final vindication being in May 2011 when the then Government Chief Construction Advisor Paul Morrell mandated that a 3D coordination and data or BIM should be included in government projects by 2016.

Coupled with the mandate the government invested in the BIM Task Group who helped to define the specific requirements and what level 2 actually means.

Within the public sector it is still work in progress however huge strides have been made within early adopter departments such as the Ministry of Justice.

The private sector has identified the value itself and has embraced new technologies and processes largely off the back of the good work carried out by government.

However now the term BIM is far too generic and can cause confusion. It is so commonly used now that it can lose impact. This is similar to the term Partnering which was adopted in the late 90s. Many people used the term but how many people truly understood it and worked in this way.

We have all heard people and organisations say yes we do BIM or can you do BIM. The term is now working against the vision and objective and we must be far more specific and less generic.

What BIM actually was, was the catalyst for change across the construction sector. We are now in the middle of a revolution to Digitise the Construction Industry. We have to be more specific about what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve.

For example we will author models or federate them. We may extract data which can be used in the operation of the building. We may use the federated model to extract quantities or link elements to the programme. All of this could be referred to as "BIM" if we adopt the term how it is currently used. We often end up with lots of debate about what is BIM and what isn't or is this level 2 or level three.

Who cares? This is all theory. We are digitising the Construction industry so we can improve our product, process and perceptions. We must deliver better value to our clients and demonstrate we understand their business and their issues and that we are able to respond intelligently and positively.

 

Contributor: Rob is a member of the CIC NE BIM Hub. He is also Chief Executive of Space Group which now includes _space architects, BIM technologies, BIMstore, BIMcampus and volula. Rob was also instrumental in establishing BIM Show Live along with BIMcrunch.com. 

Under Rob’s leadership Space Group has focussed on improving the construction lifecycle through their BIG BIM framework . He is passionate about improving value and performance of buildings and how technology can be used positively in design construction and operation.

You can find Rob on Twitter Linkedin via email  Rob.charlton@spacegroup.co.uk and Spaceliferob.blogspot.com

Tags: BIM, Building Information Modelling,Partnering
| Filed in Blog, Collaboration
Construction Needs to Adopt Sharing Culture

Darren Lester
Founder of SpecifiedBy

 

The construction industry is hardly renowned for its openness or sharing culture, but it is precisely those two ingredients that have the power to transform the industry for the better.

Not Collaboration

With BIM enforcement just around the corner, we are all well aware of a need to improve collaboration and the exchange and transfer of data and information. But these are fundamentally processes. Processes can be learnt, and taught, and optimised.

Collaboration between various teams isn’t difficult to set in motion because everyone can see it as a way forward and it has a strong element of compliance. It may not always be easy or straightforward to execute, but there really is no question of getting there, it’s just a matter of time.

Openly sharing knowledge and expertise is not the same as collaborating or transferring information. This requires much more than process. It requires a shift in mentality and culture.

Culture

Culture defines how we work, what is accepted as good practice and how we are perceived by others.

And it is a more transparent culture of openly sharing knowledge and expertise that we should be aiming for.

Taking the time to write about how you overcame a particularly challenging problem in your last project, or sharing data that you have worked really hard to obtain, for anyone in the industry to benefit from, takes a lot more than compliance or process.

This takes people or organisations to consciously put the good of the industry, or wider society, ahead of their own short-term goals. It requires a mind-set of, ‘How can we help the industry to progress?’

We would do well to look at the ‘open source' approach within the web development community that means an answer to even the most complicated of problems is usually no more than a Google search away. They ask each other for help and for answers. And they usually get them.

Often, someone else has already had the same, or a very similar problem, and have documented it and shared it online.

To build a similar culture of sharing, learning and improving within construction, I believe we need two key components to come together:

1. Leaders

2. Tools

Leaders

A shift in culture and attitude can only happen if there are people who are willing to take the lead to share a vision and a roadmap that will inspire others to follow along the way.

And by leaders, I don’t mean heads of organisations, working groups, large companies or other “powerful” people. Being in a position of authority where people have to do as you tell them does not make you a leader. That makes you a manager. People follow real leaders because they want to, because they believe in the vision, in this case, a better industry.

The construction industry needs people who will question current processes, suggest new, better ways of working and challenge the authorities that benefit from the status quo.

Tools

As an industry, we need to be better at providing people with the tools to share their expertise and learn from each other. There are a few beginning to appear, all of which need to be strongly supported by industry. The better these early innovators do, the more new ideas will be encouraged to follow suit.

Some platforms leading the way include:

CarbonBuzz

CarbonBuzz is an online platform that aims to centralise the sharing of real-life energy consumption data from building projects in order to establish benchmarks and identify gaps in performance.

Users can upload anonymous project data which is used to create a real picture of energy consumption within the industry or just use the existing data to compare against their own projects.

They say…

CarbonBuzz is an RIBA CIBSE platform for benchmarking and tracking energy use in projects from design to operation. It is intended to encourage users to go beyond compliance of mandatory Building Regulations calculations and refine estimates to account for additional energy loads in-use. The platform allows users to compare design energy use with actual energy use side by side to help users close the design and operational energy performance gap in buildings.”

The CarbonBuzz platform is potentially a great tool to improve transparency of energy consumption data, by comparing real-life performance against designed performance.

http://www.carbonbuzz.org/

Designing Buildings Wiki

The Designing Building Wiki aims to “put all construction industry knowledge in one place and make it available to everyone for free.”

Anyone can contribute an article on a particular topic and make it available to everyone within the industry. They say…

“Construction in the UK employs 3 million people in 280,000 organisations, each holding a vast amount of expert knowledge. Everything from how to create a brief for a new project, right through to getting tax breaks for water efficient taps. But much of that knowledge is inaccessible, fragmented and dispersed. If we put it all in one place, where everyone can find it, Construction UK will be more efficient, more collaborative, more innovative and better able to compete in the global market place.”

This is a great example of sharing knowledge and expertise, and provides a great resource for getting answers to tough questions, or at the very least, identifying a good person to speak to about it.

http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Home

SpecifiedBy

At SpecifiedBy, we are trying to do our small bit as well, with better access to technical information and by encouraging specifiers share their knowledge and expertise of working with particular building products and materials on specific projects, so those looking for similar solutions can more informed decisions.

This will also bring an element of transparency to the performance of building products and the companies responsible for them.

http://specifiedby.com

 

Providing these platforms through which leaders can establish a voice and build a following will be key to introducing a shift in culture.

 

“No one knows everything. But together, we know a whole lot.”

Simon Sinek

 

Collaboration and the exchange of information are necessary and positive for the industry, but to make a real change, we need to accept the much more challenging prospect of changing mind-sets and culture.

Some have already started, and I believe we are on our way to a more open and transparent culture where we share knowledge and expertise for the good of the industry.

 

Contributor: Darren Lester has a background in Architectural Technology and is the founder of SpecifiedBy, a platform that aims to empower building projects with better information.

You can find Darren on LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter

Tags: Collaboration, Communication, BIM, Knowledge sharing, CarbonBuzz, Designing Building Wiki
| Filed in Blog, BIM, Collaboration
Is BIM an enabler for Collaboration?

Sonia Zahiroddiny
Information Modelling & Management Capability Programme (IMMCP) Delivery Team
Transport for London

 

Prior to the introduction of the personal computer, documentation (including drawings) within the construction industry were mainly paper based, these were managed manually and archived in a warehouse. As computers and technology became part of everyday life and the launch of the World Wide Web, the industry moved to electronic documents and drawings as well as electronic means of managing them; traditional methods were replaced by Computer Aided Design (CAD).

However, CAD had issues too; CAD was supposed to be a computer design tool to be utilised by engineers and promised to increase the quality of design and improve the management and communications through better documentation. Instead, CAD was utilised as an electronic drawing board, which meant technologists where needed to produce drawings, unfortunately most had limited knowledge of the engineering behind it.

As construction is very much project-based and since projects are highly reliant upon updated information; exchange of information, which I believe is the least mature form of communication, is regarded central to the industry. Therefore, the concept of a centralised repository for sharing and managing project’s electronic documentation so called, Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) or Extranets became popular. But after a while EDMS were integrated with e-mail to automate workflows and notify project participants of tasks and activities which resulted in vast amount of e-mails (some unimportant and unnecessary) being sent around.

Now with the emerging use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), the industry is moving towards a centralised repository with object based models. The intelligence of models and centralisation way of managing these models will alter the existing communication mechanisms and will enhance the ways in which project participants are currently working as a team.  But is BIM, as a technology and as a process, an enabler for collaboration?

Since the 90’s there has been many efforts (i.e. governmental reports published by Sir Latham and Sir Egan) to drive efficiency improvements in the industry. One of these improvements is in the area of collaboration. I’ve observed that collaboration, in some cases even coordination and cooperation, are often used to describe team work.  If you ask anyone in the industry what collaboration is, I’m certain you’ll get similar answers. But if you ask them ‘how’ they collaborate, they will more than likely say “we share information”! But does sharing information alone mean project teams are collaborating? Or are they just making project team members aware of their activities? You’re probably asking yourself, “what is the difference, after all collaboration, coordination and cooperation all mean the same thing, don’t they”?

The answer is: No they don’t!

In Computer Sciences, Collaboration requires:

Strategic planning – clearly defining who/when/where/what and how

Culture - where everyone is happy to share information, there is more engagement, knowledge sharing and innovative thinking

Trust – foundation of collaboration and collaborative working

Tools (information systems/technology) – to enable information flow and collaborative working 

All the above pillars influence and support each other to make up a collaborative environment and none of them can exist in isolation.

As I mentioned, most projects are only sharing information; they correspond to one another in an unmanaged and unstructured (so called ad-hoc) way, mainly by e-mail. The ease use of e-mail has allowed it to become the main communication channel. Project members are overloaded with huge number of emails per day, each demanding some input which needs time to consider.

Just because project members are working together to get the project completed on time doesn’t make them collaborators. They may well be coordinating through managed and structured sharing of documents via transmittals, aligning activities and schedules as well as managing dependencies using extranets with assigned roles and responsibilities and agreed workflows and data structures, or in some cases cooperating at a higher level than just a project, which requires interaction and commitment between organisations with more structured information.

I would argue in a project environment where participants are geographically dispersed, collaboration is not essential, unless all the organisations involved in the project are interdependent (mutually dependent), which means they have predefined goals with full workflow integration (Integrated Project Delivery methods for instance), shared resources, risk and liability, high level of communication and trust and real-time pipeline (to interact with a virtual environment).  

If we take the same meaning of collaboration in Computer Sciences, we can answer the question, “Is BIM an enabler for Collaboration”?

Yes – because BIM (at its lowest level of maturity) requires a Standard Method and Procedure (SMP), which recognises the importance of information and defines the roles of information management.  The SMP also strategically defines a Common Data Environment (CDE) process which enables better information management which results in more confidence and trust in the information available. BIM at its highest level of maturity provides international standards and advanced technological solutions that would be an enabler to collaborative working.

No – because BIM can’t build trust between different organisations, neither can it change the existing culture of file-based information sharing within the industry. Culture is something that needs to be changed by leadership and project participants believing in the change. The right culture will result in the right attitudes towards trust.

So in my view BIM has the potential to be a key driver for collaborative working. The industry however needs to take a step back and take a broader approach to collaboration, by that I mean rather than focusing on projects, the aim should be imbedding BIM organisational-wide. It’s key to remember that BIM is only an enabler for collaborative working; the pillars of collaboration must exist within an organisation, with or without BIM. 

*  any opinions expressed in this blog are purely my own and relate to my PhD work. 

 

Contributor: Sonia's background is in Computer Sciences and Information Systems Management. Sonia entered the world of Construction when she started her PhD at the University of Northumbria looking at impacts of BIM on Communication patterns of Construction projects. Sonia is an Incorporate member of the CIOB (ICIOB) and is currently working as a BIM consultant.

You can find Sonia on Linkedin and Twitter

 

Tags: BIM, Collaboration, Computer Aided Design (CAD)
| Filed in Blog, BIM
It’s all about the classification...

John Sands

Principal Consultant of the Sustainable Construction Group

BSRIA

 

As BIM experience increases, a number of key issues are becoming apparent.  One such example is classification – what ‘things’ are called.  If you have a vast quantity of data or information, that can be a very powerful resource.  However, all that potential may be difficult to realise if you can’t find the particular piece of information efficiently when you need it.

Classification can be defined as:

                    ‘the act or process of dividing things into groups according to their type’

Classification has been used in the construction world for many years, often without the users knowing it.  For example, many engineers would recognise that a section called ‘T10’ in their specification dealt with ‘Gas/oil fired boilers’.  This came from a classification system called Common Arrangement of Work Sections (CAWS) which covered architectural and MEP elements for construction projects.

Subsequently, Uniclass was derived from this system and gave the opportunity to classify ‘things’ in different ways, not simply as a system or an object.  Uniclass was based on the general structure described in ISO 12006, which promoted the use of classification classes, each of which relates to a classification need.  As well as products (or objects), some of the other classes suggested by ISO 12006 are:

 

  • Entity e.g. a building, a bridge, a tunnel
  • Complex (a group of entities) e.g. airports, hospitals, universities, power station
  • Space e.g. office, canteen, parking area, operating theatre
  • Product e.g. boiler, door, drain pipe
  • Facilities this combines the space with an activity which can be carried out there, eg operating theatre

Indeed, other classes can be added to a classification system such as ‘system’, which works very well in an MEP environment.  Similarly, an ‘activities’ class would be very helpful to define a range of activities which might be able to be done within a particular space, as an alternative to using the ‘facilities’ class.

Although consultants and contractors have managed well using just a couple of the classes above, other groups have found great benefit in classifying in a number of different ways.  For example, it would be very helpful in a hospital FM environment to use the ‘spaces’, ‘activities’, ‘systems’ and ‘products’ classes.

In a hospital it is useful to classify the ‘spaces’ in the first instance by type, and then to classify each space further by which ‘activities’ can be carried out within them.  From this it is possible to classify the ‘systems’ which support the spaces and then the ‘products’ which form the systems.  A practical example would be if the chilled water system was taken out of action then you could quickly see which spaces were affected – an operating theatre.  Once that’s known it is simple to determine which activities cannot be carried out – a number of planned operations.  Also, other products or equipment can be identified which can now be worked on as the system they belong to is not working – chillers or chilled beams.

In this era of greater collaboration it is not enough to know what we are calling things, which classification system we are using.  We must communicate with those we are working with to make sure that the solution suits all of us, and moreover that it is suitable for the whole life of the asset and not just the design, or the construction phase.

It may be that a new classification system is required to satisfy all parties involved in an asset and to make information available throughout its whole life.  This is no simple task, which becomes more complex when the range of assets is considered in both buildings and infrastructure.

It is tempting to try to find solutions to what we do individually, but it is vital that any solution must be suitable for all stages of an asset’s life, for all types of assets and for all those involved in the asset.  Once this has been achieved, the full potential of BIM can start to be exploited, and tangible benefits demonstrated in the use of information management processes.  

Contributor: John joined BSRIA’s Sustainable Buildings Group in 2012 to drive the development of BIM within BSRIA and to assist its members – and the wider industry - with the understanding and adoption of BIM practices and techniques.  He is actively involved in industry discussions on classification structures for BIM, and represents the CIBSE at CPIC committee level on this topic. He sits on the CIBSE BIM Group and represents BSRIA on the CIC BIM Forum. John can be contacted via email or BSRIA LinkedIn.

Tags: BIM, ISO 12006, uniclass
| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
BIM : Reducing complexity without losing clarity

Louise Dawes
BIM Consultant
Clearbox Limited

Introduction by Ashley Beighton, BIM Process Manager for The Clarkson Alliance 

Demonstrating that BIM can be used effectively on smaller construction projects has been an indirect consequence of our Technology Strategy Board co-funded project.  Having come onboard an existing project and introduced BIM to a Worthing Homes housing development, our aim is to explore the changes in behaviours that BIM raises as well as its benefits. 

By participating in a research project, it has given us opportunity to learn and share in a way that we wouldn’t be able to do if it was commercially sensitive.  So far, we have discovered that by intelligently scaling down existing BIM documents and standards, they become more relevant for smaller projects – the Worthing Homes project is £1-2million; there is a move away from a single stage tender process and the importance of setting up a robust Employers Information Requirement to frame everything around and focussing on an early asset model are all key.

Most of our findings have impacted clients and designers but we are not on this journey alone.  Over the course of this year, our partners Clearbox (software partner), and Worthing Homes (host project partner) will also be giving their perspective on the project so far.  Clearbox BIMXtra is the Common Data Environment for this project. It is a cloud based data hub that consolidates information derived from 3D models and builds upon this information, adding value to each stage as the project evolves.

Below Louise Dawes, BIM Consultant at Clearbox shares her experiences so far:                                

At Clearbox we have been busy defining our BIM documentation for the Meadow Road Project. In partnership with The Clarkson Alliance and Worthing Homes we have issued the  (pre-contract) Employer’s Information Requirements and are in the final stages of consolidating the (post-contract) BIM Execution Plan.

Changes to BIM Documentation

Over the last year we have seen extensive changes in defining our BIM documentation as more and more people are engaging and are having an involvement in projects with a BIM requirement.

Our initial implementation plans were extensive, very comprehensive, time consuming to write and were not easy to embed in contracts at early stages. Having learnt that the most successful method of applying BIM is at the outset of the project, we restructured our documentation so that one initial comprehensive document is now split into two; An initial document containing generic company standards which can easily be inserted into the Employer’s Information Requirements and the second, a detailed BIM Execution Plan that is comprehensive, bespoke for the project and is updated as a project progresses.

As a small project, Meadow Roads BIM documentation follows the same principles and methodology of those that would be suitable for a larger scheme. We simply downscaled our documentation to suit, without losing clarity or definition of the BIM requirement.

Keep it Simple

Apart from the CAD skills required to model in 3D there is nothing technically challenging about the process of adopting BIM. We have learnt that by reducing the complexity and writing BIM documentation with minimal technical jargon we have been able to engage with the wider project team and move BIM forward from Design and into Pre-Construction, Construction, O&M and FM areas.

Data generated by BIM is valuable and should be utilised by all; benefits should not purely be gained in design.

BIMXtra and the Meadow Road Project

Our common data environment BIMXtra has been set up ready to accept models from the consultants and contractors. All parties have been given access to this central location and will be able to view consolidated data once models have been released. The document management library will be used to store and share issued models.

In summary, to get people to participate and adopt BIM you need to ensure they engage and understand what is required to be involved in a BIM project. By defining requirements a clear understanding can be shared amongst project teams. This gives the opportunity for people to adapt to new ways of working.

To view previous blog posts on this research project click here

Contributor: Louise Dawes is a BIM Consultant at Clearbox Limited, a software and consultancy firm focused on delivering leading edge information management from modern BIM enabled projects, across the entire asset lifecycle. To find out more about Clearbox see our website www.clearboxbim.com

Contributor: Ashley Beighton is BIM Process Leader for The Clarkson Alliance Limited, a firm of consultant project managers and information managers based in Oxford and London. To find out more about the information management services that TCA provide see our website dedicated to BIM - BIM fusion http://bimfusion.co.uk/

 

 

Tags: BIM, CAD
| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
BIM and the Civil Engineering Undergraduate

Joe Wesley 

4th year undergraduate at the University of Warwick

 

2016. BIM. Construction. These three words are of great significance to Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry professionals, and have been the topic of much development, and conversely debate, since the release of the Government Construction Strategy in 2011. However, to many UK civil engineering undergraduates, BIM itself means very little, whilst to the few who have heard of it, its meaning and purpose is somewhat confused.  

Before I began my research into this topic for my project, I, along with many others, thought the significance of BIM is due to how advanced the 3D modelling technology is.  In fact, it is far more to do with the way it effectively manages information. This common misconception amongst students (and even their tutors!) is caused by one fundamental problem: lack of education.

My research involved investigating how or indeed if BIM is taught in the 24 Russell Group universities. The results were as follows:

                                                                                                

The 9 UK universities who registered a level of BIM activity were primarily involved in research and postgraduate study. There was very little to suggest undergraduates anywhere were studying or even being made aware of BIM, especially in civil engineering courses, until a brief mention in the undergraduate prospectus at Leeds. This is a frightening thought given the fast approaching 2016 deadline. How are these graduates meant to be prepared?

Findings from the 2013 National BIM Survey may help to highlight the issue further:

  • 71% of respondents agreed that BIM represents the ‘future of project information’
  • 74% agreed that the industry is ‘not clear enough on what BIM is yet’.

So we agree that BIM is important, but its definition is uncertain. In addition to this, if industry is not clear enough on what BIM is, then how it is to be taught effectively?

To some extent the problem is alleviated as training for professionals is readily available. However, will somebody with 25 years of experience be willing to completely change their ways to incorporate BIM? Grass roots education is the key to solving the issue as BIM is believed to be a new way of thinking. Despite this, there is very little specification from industry to define the ‘BIM-Enabled’ graduate.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, the first step is to decide what to teach. I realised it is not feasible to teach BIM in its entirety due to the cost of software and the enormity of the subject. Fundamentally students must be able to a) work and engage in collaborative group design work, b) have simple design conceptual skills and c) have a general awareness of BIM, this awareness being based upon three main topics, People, Process and Technology.

People:

  • Cover what BIM is and its role in the AEC industry.
  • Understand why BIM is needed.
  • Appreciate the business case for BIM and the government’s stance on it.
  • Understand the basics of how BIM will be implemented, covering the Push-Pull strategy and the concept of data drops.

Process:

  • Know the format of and problems with the traditional design, procurement and construction process, the tools and techniques it uses and the improvements BIM introduces.
  • Be aware of lifecycle management- design conception to demolition.
  • Work to the ‘right first time’ ethos in design work.
  • Appreciate the importance of collaboration.

Technology:

  • Understand how parametric objects and clash detection define BIM and how data sets and reports can be extracted from the original 3D model.
  • Understand the role that cloud technology and standards such as COBie play.

The question now, is how do we introduce this core content and these skills into the already overcrowded civil engineering degree structure?

It may be that it’s introduced as a course elective, such as ‘Civil Engineering with BIM’, or as a single optional module available to students, therefore reducing the time constraint. However, in my opinion, rather than teaching it as a separate subject, BIM has the potential to be, or should be, fully integrated into the curricula. It is plausible that the Joint Board of Moderators could include it within its three main threads of Civil Engineering accreditation, which are Design, Sustainability and Healthy and Safety and Risk Management. BIM in fact combines with all of these.

There are still many barriers to introduction still to overcome, such as delivery and assessment. Given that it’s still new to industry, who will teach it? Furthermore, how will teaching content be moderated for consistency across the board?

Despite this, BIM urgently needs to be introduced into civil engineering curricula to ensure the next generation of graduates understand exactly what is going on and why. After all, they will soon be required to have a level of knowledge and understanding that allows them to fit into industry with minimal time and cost expenditure. As it stands, this is not going to happen. It’s clear that higher education needs to catch up with industry, quickly.

Contributor: Joe Wesley is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of Warwick, studying for an MEng Masters in Civil Engineering. Earlier this year he completed his third year individual project, ‘BIM and the Civil Engineering Undergraduate’, which involved developing a proposal for the introduction of BIM at the University of Warwick.

You can find Joe on LinkedIn or email via: j.wesley@warwick.ac.uk

 

Tags: BIM, Construction, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Engineering and Construction, AEC
| Filed in Blog, BIM
Will BIM make us good?

Richard Saxon CBE
CIC Executive Board Champion for Innovation
UK BIM Ambassador for growth

“I’m not bad; I’m just drawn that way.” Jessica Rabbit’s* plaint puts in a nutshell what has been the source of bad behaviour in the construction industry for decades. We may be good people but we try to make a living in an environment based on supremely unreliable information: drawings. We run big risks in trusting others’ drawings as they will let us down however hard they try not to. It’s been very possible to make a living by expecting the information to be bad: suppliers bid low, then claim their way to profit based on the frequent changes caused by weak information provided to them. This style of behaviour poisons the project atmosphere.

This culture has also led to another bad behaviour: thinking that one cannot make money unless others lose it. The win-lose; zero-sum fallacy is deeply rooted in construction. It’s nonsense of course, but is fed by the feeling that others send the bad information to you deliberately to undermine you. Even some clients act as if the best value their designers and builders can deliver is a money-losing price.

So can BIM make a difference? Can it break us out of the death-spiral? It can do that because it promises to deliver trustworthy, sharable and computable information: drawings and data which won’t let you down. It sweetens the pot by promising to cut your costs too, not be an extra. Risk and waste come out in chunks. That is seductive stuff, even more than Jessica.

Not that it’s going to be easy to change the engrained behaviour of the bad guys: some firms’ business models are based on survival in the quagmire of bad information. The sort of changes we need are:

• Clients investing in proper pre-project planning, not a hasty start based on a half formed business case, starved of resources.

• Facility managers gathering data on what works and doesn’t work, to input into future briefs and to start the Soft Landings process;

• Architects realising that not every design needs to start from square one, and that a rigorous approach to information management is a huge risk reducer;

• Engineers joining in from early on so that concepts are not undermined later;

• Tier 1 contractors putting in a bid that they are prepared to see as the final account;

• Quantity Surveyors doing value engineering on a data-driven basis so that capital cost targets are not achieved by raising whole-life cost and that carbon targets don’t get lost;

Good behaviour is within our grasp. Clients can get better buildings for less money and in less time. Consultants and constructors can make more money whilst charging less. Collaboration can be real, not faked, with win-win methods leading to gain-shares for all. We might even be on the way to providing buildings which are fit for purpose, guaranteed by insurance. Though not tomorrow: save some of your dreams for down the road.

• For younger readers, Jessica Rabbit was the cartoon seductress in ‘Who framed Roger Rabbit?’ Robert Zemekis 1988.

Contributor: Richard Saxon CBE is champion for innovation on the CIC Executive Board and UK BIM Ambassador for growth. Click here to see his report ‘Growth through BIM’. To find out more about Richard Saxon click here

Tags: BIM, drawings, buildings