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‘BIM for building regs’ software plug-ins could be launched by October

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Plug-ins for design software that could guide designers on whether or not they have achieved compliance with the Approved Documents that make up the Building Regulations could be commercially available by October 2016, BIM+ understands.

Two different partnerships or consortia are currently trialling rule-based plug-ins for as many Approved Documents as possible, according to Peter Caplehorn, chair of the BIM4Regs group and deputy chief executive of the Construction Products Association

The BIM4Regs alliance is working towards the integration of BIM software with building regulations, health and safety legislation and planning regime compliance.

Caplehorn told BIM+: “The software would take the Approved Document and identify the logic behind it, then it would tell you whether your design is going in the right direction or not. There are two consortia working on this, so there is likely to be more than one product.”

He said that the software businesses would “start with one AD to prove the system works, then work their way through”.

However, the software under development would not allow designs be “signed off” by Building Control bodies as compliant with the regulations. “If you fast forward, you can get to a point where verification of the Building Regulations can be done entirely in the BIM environment, but we’re only working on the project side of things at the moment.

“But the next step would be to reduce paperwork by facilitating electronic transfer of documents to planning and building control departments – that’s the stepping stone to a more or less automated planning environment.”

According to Caplehorn, the ground is also being prepared for future software tools that aid compliance with CDM 2015 and other health and safety legislation.

He explained that BIM4Regs is coordinating a drive to create a PAS – a Publically Available Specification, prepared and published by the British Standards Institute – that would offer guidelines to software companies developing tools on H&S compliance.

“We need a few people to contribute money for a PAS, to create guidelines that the industry can take up on a unified basis. We need to get a lot of people contributing modest sums.”

Caplehorn estimated that £60,000-£70,000 would be required to develop a PAS for H&S BIM tools. This was the sum needed to develop a PAS on Low Carbon Infrastructure.

However, he said that the BIM4Planning initiative had stalled, although he hoped it would shortly kick back into action. “The planning fraternity has been in a state of turmoil following the Housing Standards Review and the rewriting of many planning documents, but we’re hoping to rev it up.”

The software would take the Approved Document and identify the logic behind it, then it would tell you whether our design is going in the right direction or not. There are two consortia working on this, so there is likely to be more than one product.– Peter Caplehorn, BIM4Regs