| Filed in Blog, BIM, Collaboration

Elizabeth Kavanagh is the South West Regional BIM Hub Chair 

Experience in other industries suggests that failure to understand and adapt human behaviour, rather than technology, is the biggest impediment to collaborative working’ - Sir Michael Latham.

It is often quoted that successful BIM is 90% people and 10% process. At present the emphasis when talking about BIM is technology lead. This is natural enough given that digital innovation can be such a powerful enabler. Although Innovation through technology cannot independently deliver the benefits anticipated by fully collaborative BIM. Our prediction is that in the next phase of BIM development as we become familiar with the digital tools and the process elements the focus will shift and towards the human interactions.

The South West Regional BIM hub held a conference in 2012 introducing and exploring BIM concepts. From the discussions we had it was clear that the collective opinion was “it is all about behaviour”. There was also a recognition and a desire in the room to move from a culture characterised by adversarial behaviours towards a collaborative approach.

Some interesting questions came out of this discussion.

  1. How could we change our industry culture?
  2. What does collaboration look like?
  3. To what extent are we collaborating at present?
  4. What are the conditions which enable this change?

We identified that the first step in creating a collaborative culture is to be clear about what we are trying to create, by specifying what good collaboration looks like when it is happening.

To that end we initiated a group research project sponsored by UWE to specify the Behaviours of Collaboration. The aim of this is to enable collaboration to be a key part of the change in culture implied by Level 3 BIM.

So far we have conducted a review based on existing literature into collaboration within BIM and other sectors.

Our literature review quickly identified ten factors key to enabling collaboration:

  1. Trust / Respect
  2. Siloes / T shaped People
  3. Openness / Communications
  4. Common goals / New ways of working
  5. Leadership / Interpersonal skills

We used these factors during a series of workshops to initiate the development of a Profession Map which will specify the Behaviours of Collaboration. A Profession Map is used in other sectors for professional development and specifies not just the knowledge and skills required but also the behaviours. An example to explain the difference is;

Knowledge is information about a subject e.g. I understand how to indicate at a junction when driving a car

Skills are using what I know in a situation e.g. I indicate as a standard part of my driving when I turn into a junction

Behaviours are the way I use my skills-what you see me do e.g. whether I indicate in good time considerately or last minute as I am turning

It is our hope that this tool can be used widely by industry to support the development of these collaborative behaviours at all industry levels.

In order to explore the possibilities in this area further that we have created a group called Behaviours4Collaboration through which we will continue to facilitate a move from an adversarial to collaborative way of working within the construction industry. If you are interested in being part of this group please get in touch via our linkedin group Behaviours4Collaboration (B4C) or get in touch by email.

Contributer: Elizabeth Kavanagh is the South West Regional BIM Hub Champion and Head of Human Resources at Stride Treglown.

| 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 

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 and

Tags: BIM, Building Information Modelling,Partnering
| Filed in Blog, BIM
Solid Foundations for Successful BIM

Dan Bland


The Clarkson Alliance Limited


If you are interested in delivering Government projects, you may be gearing up for Level 2 BIM by 2016.  The requirement for Government projects to be delivered using full 6D BIM is set out in the 2025 UK Construction strategy.   At The Clarkson Alliance, we have been using BIM processes on a number of projects with a view to meeting this goal.

Recognising that BIM is an extensive subject, we recently organised an internal masterclass with Mervyn Richards OBE, author of BIM standard PAS1192:2 and the now infamous maturity curve, developed in collaboration with Mark Bew.  It was a fascinating day with a number of insights.  Our team collated their most memorable to share.

1.     Set out your requirements

It is imperative to set out the Employers Information Requirements – in essence the information  you want from the BIM model – as early as possible in the capital/delivery phase of the project.

The more stakeholders you involve, the better.   This reduces assumptions being made and any associated waste that comes with guessing what the stakeholder wants which is then incorrectly communicated in the requirements.

Establishing project requirements early allows the design team to focus on what they do best - creating a fantastic design that achieves the project brief. 

Designers need to be conscious of structuring design data in a way that considers the needs of others collaborating on the model, for example enabling cost plans to be generated.


     -   Set your Employers Information Requirements first and then think about producing the model

     -   Enable true collaboration by structuring model data with the rest of the teams requirements in mind


2.     Build a winning team

  • Build a BIM-capable team

Interns like me can help kick-start your BIM journey!  We’re cost effective and eager to learn new ways of working.  For organisations who want to test the waters with different BIM software, many students have access to free licences as part of their course.

Once younger members of staff are familiar with the software and processes, put their new skills to good use to up-skill other team members.

You’re then in a good place to start trialling BIM on live projects internally.  You can test BIM without sharing it outside the company whilst you find your feet.  When you’re comfortable, you can start sharing your models and (hard-won) experience with others. Once you’ve taken this step you’ll be well on the path to true BIM enlightenment!


  • Foster collaboration amongst the project team

Engage the project team early and get everyone working together from the start. 

The best BIM is achieved through early appointment of the supply chain.

Meet early to prompt initial conversations, make those difficult decisions, and address issues which may have been overlooked during a rushed design phase.

Clients have an important role here - driving any remaining assumptions and uncertainties from the brief.  The project team then has the best possible chance to respond with a fully resolved, coordinated design.

Its worth noting when we talk about early engagement we also mean the contractor and the rest of the supply chain.

Benefit from the contractor’s ‘buildability’ expertise by getting them on board early.  

You’ll find a lot of manufacturers and suppliers have been using 3D CAD/BIM for years. Use their experience to save huge amounts of time and budget by simply plugging their 3D components into your BIM models.


3.     Cut unnecessary rework

Design management - controlling the design phase to achieve project objectives - is not new and is just as applicable to BIM.

First, adopt a ‘volume strategy’ to minimise any clashes in the design.  Consider a volume as a 3D jigsaw piece – all the volumes fit together to make a complete model.

Get your team to decide roughly where everything goes before they put pen to paper (or whatever the digital equivalent is!) Clashes - for example where a length of pipework hits a structural beam - can largely be prevented by first breaking the building down into volumes and then assigning ‘ownership’ over the volumes to the appropriate disciplines.

Whilst a good volume strategy is key to minimising clashes in the first instance, it’s inevitable that the odd one or two will slip through. You therefore need to run clash detection on your models before issuing them out to the other members of the team i.e. ‘clash avoidance’ rather than clash detection. This minimises the number of issues that need to be resolved collaboratively, saving everyone time and money.

It’s your work, be proud of it and make sure that its spot on before it leaves the office!


In summary

We had a great day with Mervyn and we all learnt an enormous amount. Our key lessons learned were to:

     -   get the Employer’s Information Requirements set out early so that everyone on the team understands 

         what’s needed from the BIM model;

     -   get a BIM-capable project team in place as soon as possible and working together collaboratively; and

     -   instigate good design management processes to minimise the potential for unnecessary duplication or


Many of these foundations are set out in PAS 1192-2:2013.  Get a handle on it and you could soon become a BIM Master!


Contributor: Dan Bland is an intern currently working 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 at


Mervyn Richards OBE is the author of BIM standard PAS 1192:2013 , developed with Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Building Information Modelling (BIM) Task Group and Director of Avanti Partnership, a consultancy for BIM training, management and education.


Tags: PAS 1192-2:2013, BIM Task Group, Mervyn Richards OBE
| 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



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

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



Tags: BIM, CAD
| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
The realities of using BIM

Ashley Beighton MCIOB
BIM Process Leader
The Clarkson Alliance Limited

The Clarkson Alliance (as lead partner), Kier Clearbox (as software partner) and Worthing Homes (as host project partner) are currently undertaking a Technology Strategy Board co-funded research project “to establish the changes in dynamics and behaviours across the construction supply chain to unlock new, more efficient and collaborative ways of working with Building Information Modelling (BIM)”. This is the second in our series of updates about the project. Transitioning into a Level 2 BIM environment

In our last post we reported that our Meadow Road sheltered housing project had moved away from the usual single stage design and build tender to a two stage tender process. The first stage tender has now concluded, a contractor has been appointed and a full design team assembled. The team are now in the process of developing a BIM Execution Plan. Once this is complete the project will move online and into, Clearbox’s BIMXtra Level 2 BIM environment.

BIMXtra is a central ‘middleware’ platform that will allow the project team to use a range of authoring tools – Autodesk Revit, Microsoft Excel, etc – to import data into, and export data from, a single, federated BIM model. With freely available software the BIM model can also be viewed by the wider project team, facilitating engagement across the entire supply chain.

Worthing Homes will therefore be able to view the BIM model as the design develops, as will all of the main contractor’s sub-contractors and suppliers. It is important to recognise however that there is still a need for drawings in traditional 2D format and for the relevant standards and procedures to be incorporated into the BIM Execution Plan.

Adapting PAS 1192-2 for use on smaller projects

PAS 1192-2, the BSI’s publicly available BIM standard, brings some much needed consistency to BIM implementations however it’s necessarily a ‘one size fits all’ standard for projects both large and small. As such its processes have already needed some substantial tailoring in order to fit the needs of our smaller project where there are fundamentally far less people and less data involved.

The PAS also assumes a single stage tender whereas we have moved to a two stage tender process. On Meadow Road the scheme design was developed in 2D CAD and so the first stage tender was issued and returned in the traditional manner. Now that a contractor has been appointed and a full design team assembled we are developing the BIM Execution Plan and undertaking the associated capability assessments prior to developing the design and moving on to the second stage tender.

Preferably the capability assessments would have been included in the first stage tender returns, if not also a pre-contract award BIM Execution Plan responding to the Employer’s Information Requirements. That way any hardware, software or training needs could have been identified and addressed at the earliest possible stage. In addition it would have been preferable if the scheme design had been developed as a BIM model as this would certainly have helped speed up the transition online and into BIMXtra.


In conclusion

By making the BIM model freely accessible to the wider project team and adapting PAS 1192-2 to fit our needs it chips away at the notion that BIM  isn’t accessible to SME’s and can’t be used on smaller projects. This is a point supported by Professor John Lorimer, Local Government BIM Liaison Officer, during a recent Collaboration Oxford seminar that we hosted (link to Collaboration Oxford post).  John delivered a number of projects using BIM when he was Capital Projects Director for Manchester City Council, including the £95 million refurbishment of Manchester Central Library.

John said, “We have cracked, I think, ‘it doesn’t work for small buildings,’ ‘it doesn’t work for roads,’ ‘it doesn’t work for listed buildings.’ No, that’s wrong.”

Do you have any lessons learned from using Level 2 BIM on smaller projects like Meadow Road? If so then we’d be interested to find out more about your own experiences.

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

| Filed in Blog, BIM, Education
Education Estates

James Lee

Event Director, Education Estates

Current projections indicate that the primary education estate will not satisfy the demands that primary schools will face in the years to come. Figures suggest that half of England's school areas will have more primary pupils than places within the next two years according to the Local Government Association (LGA). Some local areas will face a 20% shortfall in places by 2015, according to analysis of official data from 2012 (source

To be fair, the Government has responded pledging around £4 billion to create new school places and renovate and repair existing school buildings. So, with funding in place, its time to find the best solutions for the problems that have been spotted on the horizon – the clock is ticking!

In my view, its time to be creative with space and explore the best way to create flexible education facilities that can adapt to evolving teaching methods while catering for greater student intake. Now is the time to look at keeping running costs down with new technology to ensure that we don’t cripple the bursars’ budgets with excessive running costs further down the line. It is clear that there are plenty of avenues to explore and there is clearly no time like the present.

This is why I have launched Education Estates - a new event that focuses on the complex and challenging issues facing those designing, building, maintaining and managing Britain’s schools, colleges and universities. 

I hope to facilitate the discussions that will lead to significant enhancements in the built environment across the education sector. From my position as the “middle man” I can see that there are clear problems, targets and goals for those managing education facilities and a host of new ideas, new technologies and strong solutions provided by a number of organisations who will be present at the event.

With the support of vital organisations including the CIC, Education Funding Agency, Carbon and Energy Fund and the National Governors’ Association, the response has been fantastic with visitors registering in healthy numbers. School leaders and local authority representatives will sit along side university and college estate managers keen to discuss upcoming projects with design and construction professionals.

I believe this event will help to tackle a key issue and one that deserves a real focus. I hope you will be able to join us!


Contributor: James Lee is Event Director of Education Estates. Since joining Step Exhibitions in April 2011 James has launched three new built environment events as well as being the commercial lead for Healthcare Estates. 

You can find James on LINKEDIN or email via: 

Tags: David Philp, Rachel Stephenson, Professor John Howson, UK BIM Task Group
| 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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:


Tags: BIM, Construction, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Engineering and Construction, AEC
| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
How BIM Will Change Processes and Behaviours in Reality: A Research Project

Ashley Beighton MCIOB
BIM Process Leader
The Clarkson Alliance Limited


The Clarkson Alliance (as lead partner), Kier (as software partner) and Worthing Homes (as host project partner) are currently undertaking a Technology Strategy Board funded research project “to establish the changes in dynamics and behaviours across the construction supply chain to unlock new, more efficient and collaborative ways of working with Building Information Modelling (BIM)”.

The core objective of the project is to understand the changes in process and behaviours needed to work in a Level 2 BIM environment i.e. where a range of authoring tools – Autodesk Revit, Microsoft Excel, etc – are being used by the project team to import data to, and export data from, a single, federated BIM model held on a central ‘middleware’ platform, in this case Kier’s BimXtra software.

The Technology Strategy Board first awarded us the grant in October last year and it was only confirmed last month, once a suitable host project had been found. The project has been provided by Worthing Homes and is a Sheltered Housing scheme called the Meadow Road project. Since then work has quickly progressed, the initial focus being on compiling a BIM Protocol based on the CIC template and a set of Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) based on the requirements of PAS 1192-2:2013.

A significant early change in the usual dynamics and behaviours has been a move away from a single stage design and build tender to a two stage tender. In a design and build contract clients often seek to transfer the design risk to the winning bidder, however with powerful visualisation and clash detection tools such as Autodesk Navisworks design issues can be quickly and easily identified and resolved. This means there’s far less inherent design risk in a BIM project and hence little point in paying the contractor a risk premium to transfer it. 

A further important change has been an early focus on the Asset Information Model (the information needed to efficiently and effectively operate and maintain the finished building), with the client’s requirements then being written into the EIR. Here we’ve so far steered away from COBie and instead focused on building an Asset Information Model that will provide the client with the following outputs on handover:

•    A Health and Safety File containing ‘passive’ project data
•    A federated model in IFC file format containing ‘passive’ system data
•    A spreadsheet containing ‘active’ system data

The passive data will effectively form the record set for the project, with the active data feeding directly into the client’s planned preventative maintenance system.

The next step is to issue the EIR out with the usual Employer’s Requirements and to support the bidders (and their consultants and contractors) through the tendering process, in particular with their pre-contract award BIM Execution Plans and associated capability assessments. 

We are already gathering insight into how BIM can change the tender process and how client’s needs should be incorporated into the Asset Information Model.  We will be actively sharing our findings as we uncover more changes in process and behaviours in future updates as we develop further understanding of how BIM works in a live project environment.

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