UK follows through on BIM level 2 mandate

BIM level 2

Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2 became mandatory for use on all public sector works in 2016. Over a year after the mandate came into force, it seems like the central government seems to be failing at enforcing the BIM level 2 minimum compliance requirement according to NBS survey respondents.

The survey included over 1,000 construction professionals — 51% agreed that the government is not living up to the target while 9% believed it had.

The mandate required that all public contract procured by central government department needed to be BIM Level 2 compliant by April 2016. A year later, respondents of the NBS survey about it says that “the government is not enforcing the mandate”. The belief that the industry will deliver was low.

Only 19% of the respondents conclude that the construction industry has taken up the challenge versus the 50% saying it had not. Other parts of the survey, however, pointed to increased awareness and use of BIM in the industry, indicating that the government policy on BIM indeed boosted BIM adoption.

More than 6 in 10 (62%) respondents now use BIM, an increase from 54% the previous year. The 8% jump in BIM usage is the biggest recorded by the survey in three years. Those who use BIM are convinced of the benefits with 70% saying BIM will reduce cost while 60% saying BIM will save time and increase efficiency.

“Clearly, the supply chain and clients are on a common learning curve and everyone is learning together,” Mark Bew of Digital Built Britain said. According to him, the survey showed good progress and should be celebrated.

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What is BIM?

BIM is regarded by some a necessary evil. Others see it as an exciting new way of procuring and delivering construction projects. It brings together all of the information about every component of a building in one place, making it possible for anyone to access that information for any purpose, for example to integrate different aspects of a building design more effectively. In this way, the risk of mistakes or discrepancies is reduced, and abortive costs minimised (Hoar, 2017).

BIM allows the handling of huge amounts of raw data and information. BIM is envisioned to be the ultimate collaborative multi-disciplinary approach for projects from planning to handover and facility use all throughout the lifecycle of a building.

BIM’s focus is to design a project with the overall lifecycle of the project in mind. From the design phase whereby all shareholders can contribute with the design input and work from the same single design all throughout the different construction phases. BIM is not only designed for new projects. It can also be used for retrofit works of existing buildings.

BIM level 2 mandate and the other BIM levels

The UK government has acknowledged that shifting the construction industry to “full” collaborative mode will be progressive. The distinct milestones are defined within the BIM processes in the form of “levels”. These have been defined within a range from 0 to 3 with their broad concept discussed:

  • BIM Level 0: Level 0 means there’s no collaboration between the design team and the other parties. The drawings are produced as 2D CAD and distributed as paper or non-amendable electronic prints to the rest of the project team. Generally, this is no longer practiced in the industry.
  • BIM Level 1: Level 1 involves limited collaboration between design team parties. Level 1 consists of some 3D CAD use for concept works. However, 2D drafting is still used for statutory approval documentation. This was how the industry was working prior to the BIM Level 2 Mandate.
  • BIM Level 2: Level 2 is differentiated by collaborative working between parties using 3D CAD models. Each party works from individual models which combine with external data from other parties to create a “federated” BIM model. This is the minimum BIM level mandated by the government for all public contracts.
  • BIM Level 3: Level 3 is the “Gold Standard” of BIM. This is used internationally for a few large scale project but is generally used for the vast majority of UK construction. BIM Level 3 requires all parties or shareholders to work from the same 3D CAD model which is stored on a cloud server which is then accessible by any party anytime, anywhere. Following the design phase, the model can be accessed and amended by the construction team as an “as-built” model. This model can then be provided to the end user of the building to monitor information relating to the building’s performance (energy, maintenance, performance costs, etc.). The model gives an overall information regarding the lifecycle of the building. The user will have detailed information towards the “shelf-life” of the project regarding how to safely and cost-effectively demolish or regenerate the building.

Benefits of BIM

BIM is revolutionising how building projects are designed, constructed, delivered, and utilised. Having the entire design team working in collaboration from the outset, with the client and other shareholders, allows for amendments before any construction can start. This is clearly a huge positive hand in overall project delivery.

Savings as a result of the use of BIM on several large international projects have already been seen. It is estimated that as a direct result of BIM, 199 days and £65k worth of time was saved on the development Abu Dhabi Airport as well as a reduction of 30% in construction time of Shanghai Tower (Hoar, 2017).

The implementation of BIM is a significant ripple for the sea of change that is to come in the construction industry. This does not come with an insignificant expense: the expense is not limited to new technology tools and programs, data storage and information security costs but also training and engagement costs for staff.

BIM represents the future of construction. It is clearly here to stay in the construction industry. For further information on BIM, we wrote a series of BIM articles to help you understand. For a broader appreciation of the UK construction culture and its use of BIM and BIM-related technology, complement this post by reading this article on UK BIM and geospatial use and this other article on UK construction investments and growth. To get you started, here’s a free ebook to help improve productivity and increase profits.

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Topics: BIM and digital adoption

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