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How Important is BIM Knowledge in UK Construction?

A colleague of mine recently received from a call from a graduate who is doing their dissertation on the importance of BIM (Building Information Modelling) in UK construction. Coincidentally, the NBS (National Building Specification) National BIM Report 2017 was also released this May. It prompted me to take a look at some of the key findings of the report from the NBS’s extensive surveys of professionals in the construction industry.

It is important to recollect that the BIM mandate that was implemented in April 2016. This states that BIM Level 2 data delivery is now a contractual requirement for work on central government-funded projects. The report by the NBS explains opinions on compliance with the mandate, thoughts on whether BIM is beneficial or not in various areas from industry practitioners, and some figures on current usage and successes.

Key findings of the report are as follows:

  • Are we on the right track with BIM?
    The opinions are split almost down the middle, the 51% thinking the Government is on the right track and that awareness is universal. BIM usage is also on the up with 62% of practices using BIM on at least some projects, 8% higher year on year. A vast majority of 78% see BIM as the future of project information, however there seems to be a worry that clients don’t understand these benefits, as 72% reported this was the case.
  • Are Government hopes of improved cost, time, and emissions realistic through BIM?
    Some are, and some aren’t according to an NBS industry survey. 60% thought time efficiency on projects would improve, 70% believe cost reduction in the design, build and maintenance lifecycle will be realised, which shows much hope for success. However, only 44% backed BIM’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Is the Government successfully enforcing the mandate?
    Most thought not. A third from the survey stated they weren’t clear on how to actually comply with the BIM mandate, with others saying that a lack of client education on BIM was a limiting factor. However, some indicators of BIM use seemed more positive with 18% saying they use BIM on all projects, and almost 30% saying they use BIM on over 75% of projects. One of the most interest findings of the NBS survey is that once BIM is adopted it usually becomes the preferred tool for design methodology.
  • Majority in BIM confidence for the first time
    55% of respondents described themselves as confident in BIM, a 20% increase since 2012. This shows the BIM is on the rise and is working its way towards a more prominent, and potentially essential future role in UK construction.
  • How advanced are most companies with BIM out of those that use it?
    Most users were found to say that level 2 was the highest level reached on a project (70%), with 22% saying level 1, and 7% saying level 3.

Conclusion

Despite some people saying that the Government is failing to enforce the BIM mandate from April 2016, the use of BIM is increasing at a steady rate in construction. One of the interesting points for most will be the finding that once the use of BIM is accomplished by a company, it is the preferred methodology on projects.

Professionals with knowledge of BIM could be in high demand in the future, especially if the Government manages to enforce its relevant mandates and more companies start to see the benefits of BIM. All stats seem to be pointing in upward direction, so a prudent professional may want to consider acquiring skills on BIM in the future.

 

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Adam Cadwaladr
Recruitment Consultant

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