BIM: do we give a damn?

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While more construction companies are implementing BIM, the majority still fail to discover the technology’s true value, argues Stewart Bailey.

Who cares wins? That’s a phrase, isn’t it? Well, it is now! So, let’s explore why we should give a damn about BIM and, more than that, why we should care.

Recent statistics by Statista reveal that 73% of UK construction professionals have implemented BIM into their projects in 2020. That’s a 4% increase from 2019 and an impressive 60 percentage point uplift since 2011 when only 13% of respondents confirmed using BIM.

There’s no doubt that BIM is on the rise, however, having been working in the industry for more than 20 years, we are all too often encountering business leaders who view BIM as a necessary evil. Despite its many benefits, some of our fellow industry professionals just don’t seem to grasp the power of BIM or quite frankly don’t care enough to discover how BIM can advance their projects.

As we’re approaching the new year, what better time to put a spotlight on BIM’s USPs and urge the industry to embrace the technology as one of their new year resolutions? Here are just a few reasons why BIM is so important.

Financial incentive

BIM really could save you millions. Imagine you have a portfolio of properties that are covered in cladding… ouch. Wouldn’t it be good to know exactly what your potential exposure is? Immediately? Down to the last square metre? What about compiling the tender document for the remedial work? Wouldn’t it be good to have a digital reference of exactly what you need? Would that save you time, money, a heart-attack? Starting to care?

“Nowadays, you purchase a £50 Fitbit and you get an app… If you buy a £500,000 home, you get a website if you’re lucky and probably a pdf and a nice leather-bound lever-arch file. It’s simply not good enough.”

Stewart Bailey, Virtual Viewing
Legal responsibility

If the Building Safety Bill goes through and you don’t build what you’ve designed, you could go to jail. Surely, you care now?

Team effort

BIM allows multiple stakeholders, aside from the construction team of the same project, to benefit from a much smoother process by sharing information across more of your company’s business units: the marketing, sales, compliance teams right through to FM, CSR, ESG, training and even the end user.


There is no version of the future where home/occupier user guides aren’t digital and voice activated. You should be able to ask Siri how the air conditioning works (she’ll have the video and owner’s manual to hand), ask Alexa how many square metres of carpet you need for the living room (she’ll know it precisely from the BIM model) and ask “Hey Google” for a quote on window cleaning (who will also know just how many windows you’ve got and how high off the ground they are).

Nowadays, you purchase a £50 Fitbit and you get an app, a £500 bike and you get an app, a £50,000 car and you get an app. But if you buy a £500,000 home, you get a website if you’re lucky and probably a pdf and a nice leather-bound lever-arch file. It’s simply not good enough.

Occupants should be able to review all their assets from within the app including those that they’ve added after moving in. And have a digital record they can hand to their lawyers when they come to sell.

EPC ratings and maintenance

BIM allows you to monitor and manage the energy efficiency of your developments at your fingertips, enabling you to implement changes that improve EPC ratings quickly. In addition, maintenance manuals and service history will be kept in one place, making it easier to prove that you’ve maintained the project properly while allowing you to schedule in routine maintenance via approved suppliers. 

Our industry is notorious for looking at the bottom line, first, second, third and fourth. I believe we are the only industry that supplies a life-changing product and has a team of people ready and waiting to fix any snagging issues. It’s all part of the service! 

Can you imagine BMW delivering your nice new 5 Series and immediately telling you what’s wrong with it and when they might be able to fix it? You’d hand the keys back, wouldn’t you?

So really, we should give a damn about BIM. It has an answer for almost every one of the scenarios above while saving you money, keeping you in business and out of jail: isn’t that enough?

Stewart Bailey is director of Virtual Viewing.

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  1. I would take the Statista findings with a pinch of salt.
    The majority of projects (more than 90%) have information management and models and so fall into a category of BIM but that doesn’t mean its usable BIM beyond taking advantage of the design benefits.
    The majority of those models will never really tell you anything about the materials used or the operational data and if that is your goal and you want to package that under the banner of “BIM”, then its more like <10% of projects.
    So although I do believe you can one day ask Siri for the operating instructions of the air con, which would still be almost impossible unless you digitise every piece of O&M text into usable, logical syntax machines can understand (still far beyond the basics of COBie which only provides general data), it isn't going to happen for decades. Focus on the general Information Management, every decision, document and outcome recorded and we will be in right direction because that's where we are still lacking on almost every project…..where email and doing things fast and dirty still dominate our sites.

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