“Everything Is Connected To Everything Else”


Building information modelling (BIM) is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle.

BIM involves representing the components of a design as objects – in a 3d modelspace - that carry their geometry (physical dimensions), relations (to one another) and attributes (materiality, performance, costs etc). BIM design tools allow extracting different views from a building model for drawing production and other uses, they also allow sectioning through associated data (for producing cost models, specifications, thermal performance models etc). These different views (spanning across client, design, operating and investment teams) are automatically consistent – in the sense that the objects are all of a consistent size, location, specification – since each object instance is defined only once in a central database, just as in reality.

Typically BIM uses three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modelling software to increase productivity in building design and construction. The process produces the Building Information Model (which encompasses building geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components).

Pieces can carry attributes for selecting and ordering them automatically, providing cost estimates and well as material tracking and ordering.

This method of management is more practical and efficient. It eliminates many of the uncertainties found during the construction phase since they can be found during the design phase of the project and fixed so they do not occur during the actual construction phase. Also, any changes during construction will be automatically updated to BIM and those changes will be made in the model. Modern BIM design tools go further. They define objects parametrically. That is, the objects are defined as parameters and relations to other objects, so that if a related object changes, the impacts are reflected on associated objects - the ceiling void decreases – the services running through those voids are impacted and re-routed. Simples!


"Virtual Design and Construction BIM models are virtual because they show computer-based descriptions of a project. The BIM project model emphasises those aspects of the project that can be designed and managed, i.e., the product (typically a building or plant [and infrastructure]), the organization that will define, design, construct and operate it, and the process that the organization teams will follow, or POP. These models are logically integrated in the sense that they all can access shared data, and if a user highlights or changes an aspect of one, the integrated models can highlight or change the dependent aspects of related models. The models are multi-disciplinary in the sense that they represent the Architect, Engineering, Contractor (AEC) and Owner of the project, as well as relevant sub disciplines. The models are performance models in the sense that they predict some aspects of project performance, track many that are relevant, and can show predicted and measured performance in relationship to stated project performance objectives. Some companies now practice the first steps of BIM modelling, and they consistently find that they improve business performance by doing so."

Building Information Modelling Report March 2011.

This in-depth research was conducted by NBS to discover the extent to which BIM is already used within the UK construction industry, what people think of it, and its future development and use.
It was the first 'NBS BIM report tracking changes in attitudes towards BIM as well as implementation within the industry.

To quote Richard Waterhouse, Chief Executive of RIBA Enterprises:
“Searching for a definition of BIM, it is clear that there are many views as to what BIM is. Incorrectly seen as a technological solution to CAD integration, BIM places the effective use and exchange of 'Information' at its heart. As a result, BIM will have an impact on most areas of business management and operation. It will revolutionise methods of working and fundamentally redefine the relationships between construction professionals. It will challenge current thinking on contracts and insurance and most importantly, it will support the integration of the design and construction teams.”

“Whilst such fundamental changes should be high on the agenda for all professionals, the NBS research indicates that this is not the case. There are distinct areas of expertise developing in many organisations and they are already challenging current methods of working. However, there is a risk that many others will be left behind as other organisations fail to achieve the returns required for investment in both technology and training.”

“For organisations looking to justify investment in this area, they would be well served by looking beyond their own systems to those of their partners. As the sharing of data increases, standardisation of systems and processes will become more important. They should also look at the services they can offer. Costs of investment could be more than covered as the information systems allow for other new service options to be provided. The latter issue on training has been covered by a small number of forward thinking universities. These agile academic institutions will provide many of the experts that the industry will need to evolve.”

So where does NBS fit into this new world? Like RIBA and NBS our aim is to focus on the centre of BIM, placing 'Information' at the heart of the construction process. There is much more to BIM than enhanced visualisation and automatic scheduling. Our projects focus on the need to improve decision making at each stage of the construction and operation process, and BIM will support and enhance this through systematisation; developing libraries of data that will support this information revolution. We will also be providing links to other published sources of knowledge that will support the idea of 'getting it right first time'. In all its forms, both graphical and textual, information will be central to the new models of building.

The New Construction Strategy, May 2011

The Cabinet Office announced the Government’s new Construction Strategy on 31 May 2011.  The report announced the Government's intention to require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016.
The decision of the Government Construction Clients Board, Chaired by Paul Morrell, the Government Chief Construction Adviser, to adopt BIM, based on the following report from the Industry working group convened by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The report contains a suggested roadmap and strategy to enable the progressive use of BIM on Government building programmes, and a framework for procurement and delivery standards.

The Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy is available in our downloads section.

NBS's National BIM Survey February 2012

The latest National BIM Survey has just been released. The annual industry wide survey, carried out by NBS, provided the most comprehensive and accurate picture of UK BIM (Building Information Modelling) and its growing influence within the built environment industry.

The Survey was completed in late 2011 by nearly 1,000 construction professionals representing a range of business sizes and disciplines from across the industry including architecture, engineering and surveying.
Highlights of the findings include:

78% agree the BIM is the future of project information, though how that future will look is uncertain, with 4 out of five agreeing that the industry is not yet clear enough of what BIM actually is
Almost a third (31%) of construction professionals are now using BIM – up from 13% in 2010
Three quarters of those construction professionals currently aware of BIM predict they will be using it on some projects by the end of 2012, and almost 19 out of 20 people expect to be using it in five years' time

More than 80% agreed BIM increases the coordination of construction documents, with 65% of those using the technology saying BIM delivered cost efficiencies.