Innovate UK backs ‘BID4Free’ project for subcontractors

BID4Free, a piece of software designed to allow specialist subcontractors to download BIM models for free to design and price their bids, is set to launch next year.

The free BIM viewer will allow subcontractors and manufacturers to view a main contractor’s BIM model, complete a take off and return a tender at little or no additional cost.

This could remove a barrier for subcontractors wanting to engage in BIM as they will not need to invest in their own software, allowing a wider range of specialists to bid.

Based on “version control” software developed by computer scientist Jozef Doboš as part of his doctorate at University College London, the project is a collaboration between his company, 3D Repo, and the Association of Interior Specialists & Federation of Plastering and Drywall Contractors (AIS FPDC).

A one-year project funded by the government body Innovate UK will begin in April to take the program forward so that it can be ready for launch in 2016. Balfour Beatty is also providing support and management.

At present a working model of the system has been built, and the next stage of development will see consultation with larger contractors and engagement with the BIM4FITOUT group.

Last October, a group of contractors including Overbury previewed an early version of the system – see video below. 

The viewer, which will be compatible with all BIM programs and available on all devices, will be free to subcontractors at the point of use, while main contractors will pay for a licence to use the system.

The developers believe that this will allow main contractors to engage with a greater number of specialists on each project than otherwise would be possible.

Joe Cilia, AIS FPDC technical manager, told BIM+: “Specialist contractors need to have access to a project’s BIM model so they can understand where they are being asked to price work, measure and respond to tenders.

"This viewer will allow them to do this and engage with BIM. It’s a party that they need to be at and this program make sure they are involved.”

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  1. I also hope it will be available to freelance estimators and surveyors preparing tenders on behalf of main contractors, subcontractors and specialists?

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