Building information modeling (BIM) represents a groundbreaking process adopted by architects, engineers, and contractors to collaboratively work on the design, construction, and operation of a building. In the domain of commercial construction, which brings together professionals from various specialties—architects, engineers, business professionals, contractors, tradespeople, and construction workers—BIM removes the necessity for individual efforts, promoting real-time collaboration. Without BIM, compatibility issues often arise during the construction phase due to disparate architectural plans, resulting in costly changes and project timeline setbacks. With the implementation of a building information model, however, these challenges are mitigated, leading to enhanced cost-effectiveness, safety, and efficiency. As a result, BIM stands out as a crucial element in the contemporary construction landscape, driving innovation and progress. To understand the workings of BIM and its impact on real construction projects, read on.

What is Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Construction?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a transformative process in construction, fostering seamless collaboration among professionals involved in a building’s entire life cycle. Utilizing BIM software, a sophisticated building information model is crafted, surpassing the limitations of traditional drawings by embodying a profound awareness of the structure’s properties. This real-time awareness enables immediate collaboration, allowing contributors to understand and address the impact of modifications on the entire building. For example, alterations such as expanding windows not only enhance natural light but also prompt considerations for adjustments in the HVAC system to accommodate increased cooling capacity.

BIM, an abbreviation for Building Information Modeling or Building Information Management, is the linchpin that unifies architects, engineers, real estate developers, contractors, and manufacturers in a collaborative endeavor. Through a shared 3D model, professionals collaboratively plan, design, and construct structures. Beyond the construction phase, BIM extends its reach into the operational realm, enabling informed decision-making for governments, municipalities, and property managers based on data derived from the model. This emphasis on real-time collaboration and comprehensive information management positions BIM as an invaluable tool in modern construction practices.

Advantages of Building Information Modeling in Construction

Building information modeling (BIM) stands out as a pivotal innovation in construction technology, offering a myriad of advantages in terms of cost, safety, and efficiency. The use of a building information model in construction yields several benefits, including:

  • Early detection of problems: BIM identifies conflicting elements in a building’s design during the modeling phase, preventing costly changes during construction.
  • Improvement in scheduling: Intelligent modeling allows for more efficient sequencing of project elements, facilitating systematic scheduling.
  • Construction automation: BIM software pinpoints tasks that can be automated, freeing up workers to focus on specialized tasks.
  • Enhanced construction processes: BIM software generates workflows automatically, ensuring that any changes made during construction update the process for everyone on site.
  • Increased worker safety: Workers have direct access to specific information about each task, leading to heightened awareness of risks and increased focus.

These advantages represent just a glimpse of the benefits that BIM brings to construction, including improvements in structural integrity, environmental design, materials usage, energy efficiency, and more. BIM’s comprehensive application throughout the entire lifecycle of a construction project underscores its significance in optimizing processes from start to finish.

How the Building Information Modeling Process Works?

Building information modeling (BIM) plays a crucial role throughout the entire lifespan of a construction project, offering value at every stage, from planning and design to construction and operation. The utilization of this model is evident in various project phases:

  • Design: Architects and engineers leverage the model to test potential designs and promptly identify any issues that may arise.
  • Planning: Contractors refer to the model for making estimates in cost and timeline, thereby enhancing the overall construction process.
  • Construction: The model, always accessible, enables construction workers to clearly identify tasks and receive real-time updates about any changes occurring during the construction phase.
  • Operation: Post-construction, facilities managers benefit from the model, which serves as an improvement over traditional as-built drawings. It provides a comprehensive overview of all building features and systems.

What are BIM Levels?

BIM Levels represent stages of BIM for projects, each representing a specific degree of “maturity.” These levels range from 0 to 4D, 5D, and even 6D BIM. They serve as benchmarks to evaluate how effectively information is shared and managed throughout the project.

1. Level 0 BIM

Level 0 BIM indicates a lack of collaboration, where paper-based drawings or digital prints in 2D CAD are used. Although most professionals operate above this level not all have received training in BIM. Some projects may not require its use.

2. Level 1 BIM

At Level 1 BIM conceptual work may be done using 3D CAD but drafting and documentation primarily rely on the use of 2D. Collaboration is limited, and each stakeholder manages their data according to CAD standards.

3. Level 2 BIM

Level 2 BIM introduces collaboration among team members who utilize models in three dimensions (3D). While stakeholders may not always work on the model simultaneously, they exchange information through a file format, like IFC or COBie. This practice helps reduce costs and saves time.

4. Level 3 BIM

Level 3 takes collaboration further by having all team members work on a three-dimensional (3D) model together. Referred to as BIM this approach improves the way we visualize collaborate and communicate during a project. It helps to minimize the need, for redoing work or making revisions throughout the process.

5. Levels 4, 5, and 6 BIM

Level 4 BIM introduces scheduling information that includes project phases and component sequencing. Level 5 BIM goes a step further by incorporating cost estimations and budget analysis allowing project owners to closely monitor expenses from start to finish. Level 6 BIM emphasizes sustainability. Provides predictions of energy consumption, for eco-friendly and sustainable structures. These advanced levels greatly enhance site planning, construction handover cost analysis, and long-term reduction of energy consumption.

The Future of Building Information Modeling

The enduring influence of the Building Information Model (BIM) in construction is evident as it evolves into a sophisticated tool with 4D, 5D, and 6D dimensions, paving the way for heightened collaboration and digitalization in the future. Globally, BIM plays a pivotal role in reducing construction waste by promoting efficient collaboration. Looking ahead, the potential of BIM, when combined with Connected Construction principles, opens vast possibilities. Trimble’s collaborative efforts in The Great Library docuseries showcase how BIM, as a foundational element, transforms the construction landscape into a digitally driven future.

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin has been working as the General Coordinator at Ergin Makina since 2005.