Analysis

NBS 2016 BIM report: ‘The UK BIM strategy has been largely vindicated’

24 April 2016 | By Adrian Malleson, NBS

Adrian Malleson, head of research, analysis and forecasting at NBS, explains the major findings of the 2016 BIM report.

The 2016 NBS National BIM Report is our sixth report on the state of BIM within the UK construction sector. The timing is significant as the UK government’s BIM mandate, through which all centrally procured public sector buildings must use BIM, has now come into force.

More than 1,000 people within the construction sector responded to the survey and overall, the picture is positive for the government, and for proponents of BIM working.

We can see continued growth in BIM adoption among respondents. A total of 54% are now using BIM and among those who had adopted BIM, there is a strongly positive sentiment towards it.

In the years NBS has been running the survey, BIM adoption and use has transformed from a niche practice into a standardized design methodology, used by a majority. Of those who have adopted BIM, only 6% say the wish they hadn’t and a majority say BIM improves client outcomes and brings cost efficiencies.

During the five years since the former chief construction adviser, Paul Morrell, set course for Level 2 BIM as part of the government’s construction strategy, the UK BIM strategy has been largely vindicated.

Challenges remain however. The NBS report suggests a skepticism about the readiness of the broader construction industry for the BIM mandate, a lack of clarity about what is required to comply with it, and significant numbers feeling they lack skills and knowledge in BIM. Smaller practices are less likely to have adopted BIM, and should that remain the case, we may see a diverging design community.

The report allows us to look forward. By asking respondents whether they would use BIM, for at least some projects in the future – whether next year, in three years’, or in five years’ time – NBS projects possible future BIM adoption.

There is an expectation that BIM will become near universally adopted within three to five years: 86% of those who took part in the survey expect to be using BIM by this time next year, and 97% within five years, while three quarters see it as the future of project information.

The accuracy of this projection rests, of course, on people’s intention to use BIM translating into reality.

Before we look at this assumption, it’s worth being clear that adopting BIM is not trivial. You can’t buy BIM in box. Over 90% said that “adopting BIM requires changes in our workflow, practices and procedures”. The change requires a commitment of time and money.

In 2011, when NBS first ran the report, we were still in the midst of the great recession. With workloads falling rapidly, people had time, but little money. In 2015, with workloads increasing, people may have more money to invest in BIM, but less time to do so.

If we compare the projections NBS reported in 2013 with what has turned out to be the case in 2016, we can see that intentions are not always realised. In the 2013 report, 91% of those who were then aware of BIM expected to be using it within three years. Allowing for those who were unaware of BIM (6%) we might have expected BIM adoption in 2016 to be at around 85%. But it’s at 54%. So around a third of those who expected to adopt BIM didn’t.

Does this mean that the projections given in the 2016 report are unrealistic? Well, it does make clear that we should treat them with caution. BIM is already becoming the norm for design practice, but perhaps not every practice that intends to adopt BIM in the next three to five years will do so.

Crucial to greater levels of adoption is the success of the BIM mandate. The government is already seeing significant cost savings through BIM and is making further investment in it. Clients are seeing better buildings, that can be better maintained, delivered with BIM. So we can expect then BIM to become increasingly demanded, and it’s a demand only the BIM ready can respond to.

We are also seeing better support for those seeking to adopt BIM. Better guidance and information resource is available through, for example, Building Smart or theNBS.com. Standards are being made readily available by BSI. Tools for BIM are continually improving. Free resources are available to support design and implementation, such as the NBS National BIM Library or the government-funded BIM Toolkit.

If we combine client demand with better support for those seeking to adopt BIM we can expect BIM adoption to continue to accelerate. By precisely how much, we will have to wait to see.

To download the NBS National BIM Report go to: https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/national-bim-report-2016

The government is already seeing significant cost savings through BIM and is making further investment in it. Clients are seeing better buildings, that can be better maintained, delivered with BIM. So we can expect then BIM to become increasingly demanded, and it’s a demand only the BIM ready can respond to.– Adrian Malleson, NBS