To BIM or not to BIM? That is the question for designers

The designer must ask: will BIM offer a more efficient and appropriate means to deliver designs, support accurate costing, and facilitate successful team integration, programming and risk management?– Assad Maqbool

If a client has not stated a requirement for the use of BIM, the increasing weight of opinion suggests it should nevertheless be recommended.

However, in the case of a consultant designer, a recommendation to use BIM will be a matter for their professional judgement. The designer must ask: for the needs of this client and this project, will BIM offer a more efficient and appropriate means to deliver designs, support accurate costing, and facilitate successful team integration, programming and risk management?

To answer this, a designer must consider the wider landscape beyond its own design contributions. Case law suggests designers “should be alert to the hazards and risks inherent in any professional task he undertakes to the extent that other ordinarily competent members of the profession would be alert”.

This requires an assessment of BIM by designers not only as a medium through which to create designs, but also as a means to deliver projects with less risk of defects, health and safety issues, and cost or time overruns resulting from any
or all of the following:

  • gaps or duplications between design contributions;
  • misunderstandings between team members;
  • problems in sequencing, including client responses to designs submitted;
  • delays and other obstacles to third-party consents.

Responsible assessment of the potential impact of BIM on a project as a whole goes even further than this, because of the declared intention of the methodology in assisting the efficient and safe operation of the completed building or other facility.

Where BIM is considered to offer a better way to identify a need for repair and maintenance, and parts of the completed facility that involve particular risks, requirements or sensitivities, the client will expect a designer to have these aspects in mind in determining their decision.

There may be projects for which BIM should not be recommended – for example:

  • where there are established methods of working among an existing project team that would be disrupted;
    where an established project team does not have sufficient BIM expertise;
  • housing projects where the long-term benefits of BIM in FM are marginal for homeowners;
  • low-value projects where the cost outweighs the benefits.

The decision is daunting for any designer. They need to keep close track of BIM and respond to the current working environment.

Assad Maqbool is a partner at Trowers & Hamlins specialising in projects and construction.

Picture: Telford Homes used BIM to develop Lime Quay in east London

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  1. Another luke warm offering on BIM from a legal perspective, albeit not as bad as the article published by Building earlier this week!

    It is as though the legal profession don’t know what to make of “BIM”.
    They talk about it as though its something we go down to the corner shop to buy in a box (Lets go buy some “BIM”! )

    It isn’t really like that is it? I wonder if the legals have had the same conversation about the internet, email, digital diary managers, CAD, CAFM and the like. I think not.

    As we know BIM is a poor acronym to use for this stuff but its what we’re stuck with – it really stands for collaborative working in a digital environment.

    It is a way a working. I would no more be recommending “BIM” to a client than I would Health and Safety, CDM, programming, planning, design management, project management, supply chain or whatever. It is/will be part of our business as usual.

    What clients and professionals should be asking is what information or outputs are needed, and why , what will they be used for and how. This is the point of the EIR. How we get to those required outputs just depends. You might use “BIM” , or it might be the back of an envelope!

    I suspect this article is a veiled recommendation FOR using BIM environments. And whilst people are still getting hung up over ROI , risk and any other reason why they can’t embrace this, there are those that already have and beginning to reap the benefits in terms of profitability, efficiencies, reduced waste and risk.

    When this really flies, that’ll give the legal profession a bigger headache to think about – they’ll need to find another ambulance to chase!

  2. This was very interesting article. According to the latest study conducted in the USA regarding to the topic: “Factors that influence project team members to use BIM and IDDS in the construction industry”, a mixed methods research, analysis of quantitative and qualitative data indicated clients and owners are the primary drivers who can request the use of IDDS and BIM, make it mandatory in a project, and receive a better finished project with fewer conflicts, fewer costly change orders, and a project delivered on time and on budget (Markovic, 2015).
    Thank you for your professional help.
    P. B. Markovic, MBA (M), BE (ME), MT
    Doctoral Candidate
    Management of Organizational Leadership

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