Is 2016 the year of Level 2 BIM?

Is 2016 actually the year of Level 1 BIM, asks John McDermott, a building services engineer at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and member of the CIBSE BIM steering group.

The government’s much-publicised mandate came into force earlier this year, announcing 2016 as the year of Level 2 BIM. Now that we’ve passed the Level 2 deadline, the website has been launched and the government has allocated new funds for Level 3, it seems that the BIM Trojan horse is off and galloping off over yonder hill…

Rhino, Grasshopper, Dynamo, engineering design automated by complex computational workflows! While I don’t deny there are pockets of excellence within various organisations across the construction industry, I do not think for one second that BIM adoption is as wide spread as the case studies and promotional videos will have you believe. In reality a very small percentage of projects are achieving anything near to the prescribed Level 2.

From personal experience, and those of fellow professionals in other organisations I’ve spoken to, the level of practical application of BIM modelling alone is still on an upward slope of enlightenment.

I still hear rumours of companies saying that “we only work in Revit from stage 3/4 onwards, otherwise it costs too much”.

Fundamentally the industry needs to take a deep breath and realise that in most cases we are a long way away from Level 2. We need to refocus on training and upskilling across the entire construction sector and make sure that the entire industry is able to achieve Level 1.

The reality is that most BIM projects are something aligned to Level 1, with BIM 3D modelling and 2D drafting happening side-by-side, along with the use of a common data environment (a CDE like Buzzsaw, 4projects etc).

All this bravado and BIM wash is causing confusion for clients and those trying to understand and implement BIM within their businesses. EU and global nations are waking up to the potential economic benefit of BIM along with the potential to export their expertise. Therefore, maybe it is now the time post Brexit to adopt “a cards on the table approach” to BIM in the UK.

For UK BIM to be successful we cannot confine it to exemplar projects and believe that we are all doing BIM. It has to happen tangibly on a day-to-day basis and become the norm – this will take time and may need a refocus.

John McDermott is the author of the BIM blog Tangible BIM

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  1. I agree with much of what you say but I would add the uptake cannot increase until more of our colleagues understand what Level 2 BIM actually is.

    In my experience many still believe it to be a geometric standard and have no idea it refers to the management and stewardship of data. This will change as employers become more focussed on the long term benefits of BIM for their estate and begin to push their supply chain accordingly.

    A good start for many suppliers would be to nominate one person to attend one of the BIM Accreditation courses available from the likes of BRE. Once an individual is trained they can take the message back to their colleagues and spread the word.

    No matter how the uptake manifests itself we must press on as our standards are becoming common practice across the globe. If we do not embrace Level 2 and build on it for the future, we may become victims of it as overseas competitors use it to their commercial advantage and win projects in the UK based on compliance with our standards.

  2. Well said John McDermott….what a good dose of realism! And sound advice by CW also.

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