Building Information Modelling

Why use BIM? Benefits Industry trends Whitepapers Latest news

What is BIM?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the linking of people, technology and processes to improve outcomes in building and construction.

It is the latest evolution of the building industry and it refers to the process of designing, building and operating a building collaboratively using a single coherent system of 3D models rather than separate design drawings. BIM incorporates people and technology to streamline time and cost, and improve efficiency in builds including skyscrapers, hospitals, office and residential buildings.

BIM isn’t just a set of software or simply a 3D model. It contains not only the model elements but the vast amounts of information that make up the project, as well as the process of exchanging that information with other parties involved.  Whereas previous workflows relied on multiple file formats and disconnected processes that quickly became out of sync when changes were made, BIM workflows allow for a much more dynamic and synchronised approach to project management.

In summary, BIM is the gathering of the following three components: 

  1. Agile development
  2. Lean construction for the building industry
  3. Complete digitalisation of building design processes

Why use BIM?

Phases of BIM (icons)

BIM is used to improve the efficiency of the construction process, reduce waste during the construction and to improve the quality and the efficiency of the buildings.

Many advanced industries have championed the concept of “Failing Fast.” That is, experimenting and trying new things – even if the first time around means failure – leading to another iteration and eventual success. In the high-stakes world of building and construction, this concept only works in the digital realm. Planning a build before any machinery hits the ground is the only way to “Fail Fast.” It’s not possible to experiment with bricks and mortar, and still survive in an environment typified by time and financial pressure, rapid deadlines, large and distributed working teams, and huge fiscal borrowing.

With traditional methods of construction, where teams move from one phase to another in the project, some information is lost from the previous phase. With BIM, information is collected digitally to be available when it is needed, wherever it is needed, by whomever it is needed. Adopting BIM means establishing a continuous flow of information. Every phase of the building process – from early planning and design, to construction, operation, maintenance and final recycling – is captured, digitally. This opens new possibilities for better efficiency, accuracy, collaboration and cooperation between the parties involved in the built. We live in an age of great automation. Every business process is digitalised, and every decision is driven by data. The World Economic Forum has pronounced this a “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” where connected machines, feeding from data, will exponentially transform processes in every industry.

Why is BIM important?

As the red line in the graph demonstrates, by dynamically connecting design, analysis, and documentation in a BIM workflow, most of the effort in a design project is shifted back into the detailed design phase, when the ability to impact project performance is high and the cost of making design changes is low. This allows engineers to spend more time evaluating what-if scenarios to optimise the design, and less time generating construction documentation.

Design, Analysis and Documentation in a BIM Workflow

Why should I adopt BIM?

  1. Via a rapid exchange of design information, different scenarios can be explored faster, allowing for more iterations of the architecture, structure and engineering systems and resulting in an accurate and optimised building design.
  2. All drawings can be captured into one comprehensive 3D model, avoiding information loss and enabling more educated decisions based on data.
  3. Necessary engineering calculations for ventilation, heating and piping systems can be performed quickly and easily.
  4. All geometric and spatial data required to perform energy calculations can be produced directly from the model.
  5. Ensuring compliance with environmental requirements is easier and the increased efficiency helps reduce building lifecycle costs.
  6. Integration of cost and scheduling data enables online cost estimation and visualisation of the construction progression.
  7. Accurate Bills of Quantities can be produced directly from the model.
  8. Data required to control procurement can be linked directly from the model, optimising the procurement process.
  9. Detailed model contains all data and geometry required for accurate installation of MEP systems.
  10. Once the building is completed, the next version of the model will inform facilities management decision-making and systems, allowing for preventative maintenance and repair.


The innovative use of BIM technologies across the board, as well as the cooperation and information sharing tools that were employed by all project parties, enabled us to optimize design management leading to an increase in productivity and design quality. It should be emphasized that all this was possible only because of the work done in structuring the entire information process before the actual design work was started.

Luca Serri, Founding Partner and Chief Executive of ATIproject explaining the benefits of BIM for the design and construction of the new Odense University Hospital in Denmark
Read the case study ›

What are the benefits of BIM?

  1. Modernises the bidding process basing it on accurate take-offs of the building materials
    • With a BIM model that includes comprehensive 3D modelling of all structures and MEP systems, building owners are able to evaluate bids fairly with a quantity survey, costed line by line. The total bid price will therefore reflect the actual costs of the building materials rather than estimates.
  2. Can significantly lower carbon emissions during construction
    • Building owners today prioritise sustainability. A quantity take-off based on a 3D BIM model, instead of 2D drawings, provides far more accurate results. This empowers architects and contractors to better define the exact quantities of building materials required. When this estimation is accurate, the pre-bid budget will be closer to the end budget and a dramatic reduction in material waste can be achieved. An accurate take-off directly impacts the energy, resources, and travel time required to obtain building materials, resulting in significantly lowered carbon emissions.
  3. Optimising MEP systems in the design phase lowers electricity and water consumption during operations
    • When taken as a whole, a building consists mostly of manufactured products. When the product manufacturers’ specifications are rolled into the BIM ecosystem early in the design phase, the MEP systems can be tested and designs can be revised easily. The improved system efficiency will benefit stakeholders long after construction has been finished.
  4. Improves the experience of the occupants in the building
    • An accurate BIM model of a building makes it easier to obtain critical stakeholder feedback through informative previews and virtual walk-throughs. Including the perspective of the occupant community during the design phase helps produce more successful buildings.
  5. Facilitates communication during construction
    • Communication is both a critical aspect in the success of a construction project and a constant challenge. With BIM, all changes such as timings, schedules, availability of materials and the right specialist teams can be coordinated through digital applications and mobile devices in real-time, keeping all stakeholders informed. Data loss can also be avoided when all parties work with the same easily accessible and up-to-date digital BIM model. In addition, technologies such as BIM and AR can lead to proactive approaches that help control the construction process and limit potential mistakes.
  6. Cost control
    • In software engineering, prototype solutions are quickly built, and quickly tested, to uproot failures as fast as possible. In the bricks-and-mortar world of construction, building owners need to ensure the initial version is as good as possible in its design, as a second version of a building is not possible without costly renovations. BIM can help avoid the “fix it in the field” approach that easily forces costs to spiral out of control. BIM enables the first version of a building to be analysed, tested, and analysed again. The design can be iterated and evolved many times over. Through this process, each iteration is better than the last and it will result in a vastly improved building once the foundations are dug.
  7. Enables predictive maintenance
    • BIM helps building owners achieve a level of predictive maintenance, meaning that unplanned outages can be reduced, while maintenance cycles can be carefully planned. This provides greater precision in facility management budgeting. The facility management team will not be caught out with unexpected equipment changes – all of these data points can be predicted by the BIM model. Analysis of the BIM data across a portfolio of buildings also enables an owner to determine maintenance cycles on major and minor building systems and to compare buildings and spaces within their portfolio.
  8. Lowers the life-time costs of a building
    • The use of the BIM model in facility management is gaining more attention as building owners realise that it can reduce cost over time. If the iceberg hypothesis is to be believed (that only 1% of a building’s lifetime cost is spent on design while 70% is spent on maintaining the building), the promise of BIM is that by shifting some capital expenditure to design, and increasing that 1% by a small amount, owners can reduce the 70% of costs that is used on maintenance.
  9. Enables building management systems and facility management systems
    • The widespread use of sensors in buildings has paved the way for intelligent buildings. Intelligent buildings will know not only how the building is used, but also if something goes wrong in it. For example, if there is a leakage in the pipe system, moisture in the structure can be noticed before it causes any mould and subsequent health problems. This detailed building information can be connected directly to building management systems. From the building owner’s perspective, the BIM model will contain rich information about the building’s assets. An owner can click into an aspect of the HVAC system to see an installation date, who installed it, what maintenance was undertaken, and warranty information. The ability to have so much data about a building’s components drives a better relationship between the owner and any contractors, maintenance companies and other partners.

What are the benefits of BIM for MEP design?

Global trends are making MEP projects more complex while BIM is helping industry professionals work more efficiently and effectively.

  1. All the elements of an MEP design can be determined more accurately and cost simulations are more realistic.
  2. With rapid modelling, MEP systems are optimised in the design phase before they are installed in the building.
  3. The BIM model can be used to gain faster buy-ins with faster and better visualisations.
  4. The BIM model can be used to convey design content to the field.
  5. Enables retaining model intelligence from concept to construction and during the whole building lifecycle.
  6. Offers better material estimates for the construction phase.
  7. Enables predictive maintenance and MEP asset tracking during operations.
  8. Reduces project risks overall through tested, accurate and optimised MEP system designs.
  9. Contributes to improved timelines and cost savings during construction through a reduction of installation mistakes and material waste.
  10. Results in better quality and more efficient buildings with a smaller environmental footprint.

What is a BIM object?

BIM Object (Sprinkler)

A BIM object is an accurate digital representation of the physical product, modelled in 3D. 

In addition to geometrical information, they also include comprehensive technical characteristics of the real product. BIM objects are used to populate the BIM model.

In MEP design, for example, all engineering systems are modelled using BIM objects as components. When the BIM objects include technical information that can be used by calculation software, it is possible to optimize these systems in the design phase and to the efficiency of different MEP systems within a BIM model.

What is BIM 360?

BIM 360 is a cloud based collaboration and management platform that supports construction workflows from the design phase to operations.

As described by its developer Autodesk, BIM 360 is a unified platform connecting different project teams and data in real-time, from design through construction, supporting informed decision-making and leading to more predictable and profitable outcomes.

The latest version of MagiCAD is fully compatible with Autodesk BIM 360 Design enabling MagiCAD datasets to automatically synchronize into a Revit project using Revit standard functionality.

Read more about BIM 360 ›

BIM 360 Platform

Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) as a methodology has naturally a lot of different implications for the building industry, but ultimately I think it all comes down to each of the different project parties in a building project being able to access and use all the data they need in each stage of the project without unnecessary overlap and time spent on repetitious work. This of course requires efficient data transfer between the project partners in a format which each of them can access and use from stage to stage.

Jan Behrens, Head of Project Support at Lindab
Read full interview ›

Download our whitepapers to learn more about BIM

BIM Guidebook for
MEP Designers
Download guidebook ›

BIM Adoption in Europe
Download whitepaper ›

Understanding BIM in
the age of digitisation
Download whitepaper ›

Using BIM to
transform MEP design
Download whitepaper ›

Using BIM to lower the lifetime
cost of a building
Download whitepaper ›

6 key trends in
the construction industry
Download whitepaper ›