The first survey to gauge the degree of BIM adoption in the Irish construction industry has found that 67% of firms are confident in their ability to work with digital construction and 27% have a general familiarity with the techniques and programs.
Three-quarters of firms also reported that demand for BIM was growing among clients.
The report, commissioned by the Enterprise Ireland development agency and the Construction IT Alliance, approached 100 of Ireland’s largest companies across industry disciplines and received 68 responses.
The results show a relatively high level of penetration for digital techniques. By comparison, the UK NBS National BIM Report 2015 found that 48% of UK firms were using BIM and 48% were aware of it but were not using it.
The questions in the Irish survey was based on the NBS survey so as to create a comparable dataset across the British Isles.
Despite the large number of firms employing BIM, a number of companies said they needed to offer their staff more continuing professional development courses, integrated workshops, Irish-specific BIM case studies and guidance material in the use of modelling on outstanding projects.
When firms were asked to comment on the principal barriers to the wider adoption of BIM, 56% mentioned a lack of in-house expertise, 55% complained of lack of training and 45% said there was “no time to get up to speed”.
The main issue, however, was cost, with 66% of firms citing that as a disincentive. And despite the increase in client interest in BIM, 57% of firms said lack of client demand was a restrictive factor.
One specialist consultant brought these two considerations together in its contribution to the feedback section, saying: “The culture of upfront prices as the deciding factor needs to be addressed across the industry. We need to focus on the cost of getting it wrong and educating our clients and co-consultants. Each professional body should develop a guidance document which is based on one ideal project and how it adds value. It should focus on where, without the expertise, it can go wrong.”
Firms were also asked to comment on the desirability of making BIM mandatory on public schemes, as is being carried out in the UK and countries in Scandinavia and the Asia Pacific region.
Opinion was divided, with 37 companies in favour of making BIM compulsory in some circumstances and 31 opposed.
In terms of professions, consulting engineers were strongly in favour of a mandate (18 in favour and three opposed) whereas all eight quantity surveyors who responded were against the move; the remaining disciplines were more evenly split.
Among the reasons given against a government initiative were that fees were still “ridiculously low”, and that it would prevent smaller contractors from bidding for public sector work.
The reasons in favour of a mandate included a dramatic increase in the quality of project execution, and “significant efficiency gains throughout the design, construction and operational life of buildings”.
An area of consensus among firms was the “need for professional representative groups to look at BIM more seriously, and to lobby the Irish government to take a position on its applicability in Ireland”.
Picture: A showpiece of the Irish construction industry: Grand Canal Square in Dublin
The culture of upfront prices as the deciding factor needs to be addressed across the industry. We need to focus on the cost of getting it wrong and educating our clients and co-consultants.– Survey respondent