No one is going to argue at this stage that BIM is anything other than a good idea which should in theory at least make our businesses more efficient and the design and procurement process more effective. From the perspective of a façade contractor, our take on BIM is that it is absolutely NOT about producing 3D images but is all about the INFORMATION with 3D modelling to compliment.

Here at Colorminium we have found that in most cases the correct use and function of BIM is little understood and in almost all cases is not managed / governed correctly. Indeed the expectation is seldom for more than “pretty pictures” or clash detection. With the correct application and deployment of appropriate software and persons of the relevant skill-set, we should be seeing cost & quantity data allowing for accurate scheduling and pricing on projects which for contractors, can have thousands of different components from dozens of suppliers, all of which need to be brought together on site at the right time. However, the confusion over what software, what files and what information is required has now become an issue even before we produce a document, drawing or a model. Some of us in the façade industry are using the power of the software to generate this information to assist with project estimation, design and scheduling but this is not generally “joined up” with the rest to the project team (where BIM is used) and the benefits are not passed on to the client in any long term means other than initial cost benefits derived from efficiency in the design and build process.

We’ve sought to outline a very basic overview of the various initial BIM Levels most popular in the UK and what they translate to:

Level 1 BIM

This is the level which most of us are using now and have been for years. This typically comprises a mixture of 3D CAD for concept work and 2D drafting for approval of documentation and Production drawings. CAD standards are managed to BS 1192:2007, and electronic sharing of data is carried out from a common data environment (CDE). Base design files & models are rarely shared among project team members.

Level 2 BIM

This is the method of working that was set as a minimum target by the UK government for all work on public-sector work, by 2016.This is distinguished by collaborative working – all parties use their own 3D drawing files /models, but not necessarily working on a single, shared model. The collaboration comes in the form of how the information is exchanged between different parties – and is the crucial aspect of this level. Design information is shared through a common file format, which enables any organization to be able to combine that data with their own in order to make a federated BIM model and to carry out interrogative checks on it.

Level 3 BIM

Currently seen as the ultimate goal (UK Gov. 2025), this represents a full collaboration between all disciplines by means of using a single, shared project model which is held in a centralized repository. All parties can access and modify that same model, and the benefit is that it removes the final layer of risk for conflicting information. This is known as ‘Open BIM’. Current nervousness in the industry around issues such as copyright and liability are ongoing – the former by means of robust appointment documents and software originator/read/write permissions, and the latter by shared-risk procurement routes such as partnering. The CIC BIM Protocol makes provision for these.

None of the above BIM levels identified involve the ‘I’ in BIM, the information required to add the real value that building owners and facilities management companies are so keen (rightly so) to see.

Please, watch this space for more information on Levels 4 & 5 in due course.

What are your views on the challenges in the industry facing the correct implementation of BIM? What are your success stories? We’d love to hear from you:;