What is BIM?
The United States’ National BIM Standard Project Committee defines BIM as “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility” that serves as a “shared knowledge resource for information about a facility” which forms a “reliable basis for decisions during [the facility’s] life-cycle”.
Put simply, BIM is a process for highly collaborative management of a construction project using a single coherent system of computer models shared between the various stakeholders (architects, engineers, contractors, owners and operators) in a project from beginning to end. This single shared information management tool takes the place of the more traditional method of project management involving separate sets of ‘hard-copy’ technical drawings and documents.
The basic premise of this process is that all stakeholders can access, view and modify information relating to the project in a single shared model throughout the life-cycle of the project or facility (from conception to eventual demolition).
BIM allows for multidisciplinary collaboration in real-time. All parties have access to all the information relating to a project in its current phase and are able to communicate with all other parties simultaneously via the building information model. The advantages of this process are centered around improved communication and coordination and include early detection or reduced risk of mistakes or discrepancies resulting in less rework, reduced costs and improved quality.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment released a document in 2017 summarizing the results of various BIM related studies conducted in the US, Europe and Australia and reports average project duration decreases of up to 37% and over 60% of BIM users experiencing reduced cost overruns and increased return on investment.