Breaking BIM: Removing the stigma around BIM

If the advent of Level 2 BIM has left you scratching your head and wondering what digital technology has to offer building services, Ben Roberts explains

Baffled by the mysterious and ever-changing dark cloud of BIM? This new, regular column will bring you the most prescient BIM insights in the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) industry, share what is being discussed among the institutions, clarify what MEP professionals need to know – and what you don’t need to be worrying about right now. Some updates will be informative; others will just provoke debate.

The aim is to demystify BIM and remove the stigmas that are preventing a move towards better ways of working digitally.

This month, RIBA Plan of Work stage 4 has been under the spotlight. Does anyone want to receive a not-fully-coordinated-detailed-design ‘stage 4a’, or should designers be delivering more coordinated models as standard? Should this attract a higher fee for designers, as the contractor no longer has responsibility for coordination? BSRIA’s BG6 Design Framework for Building Services is widely respected and adhered to by MEP professionals, but does it reflect the needs of clients in the modern world?

Level 2 BIM has been a catalyst for some long overdue navel gazing

Certainly the interface between designer and installer needs to be fine-tuned to ensure smoother handover of models at this stage; the current thinking is that early contractor involvement is very helpful on BIM projects. This means the installation requirements can be considered during the detailed design stage, rather than having to remodel everything afterwards. Plenty of food for thought on this one.

Level 2 BIM anyone? For those who don’t know, this is the UK government’s mandated method for delivering public sector projects as defined by ‘the 10 Commandments’ (that’s not the official phrase, I made it up – but there are 10 aspects that define Level 2); in a nutshell, these include standard processes, team structures, classification, soft landings, data sharing methods, and advice on data ownership.

After a grandiose five-year buildup, 4 April came and went without the seismic shock many predicted. But Level 2 BIM has certainly been a catalyst for getting the industry to engage in some long overdue navel gazing. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things BIM will have made you think about recently: collaboration, sharing information, more efficient processes, digital technologies, the power of data, upfront coordination, security, client requirements, better post-occupancy analysis, and data visualisation or infographics. BIM covers all these things, and gives us a kick into the 21st century – exciting times!

Ben Roberts is the BIM delivery manager at Hoare Lea and a member of the CIBSE BIM steering group.