Architect backs BIM benefits

A government agency has highlighted the way that Building Information Modelling (BIM) can bring real benefits to construction projects.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which has responsibility for housing, land and regeneration, posted a case study involving a Birmingham BIM project on its website on 4 August.

Architects Axis Design used BIM for Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust’s Meon Grove development of 18 flats and 13 family houses in the east of the city, reporting positive outcomes including:

  • public consultation information was managed and developed by the same team responsible for planning applications and construction, bringing financial benefits
  • a BIM model was used to test the building layout in three dimensions at the earliest stage and to secure planning approval
  • the approved planning drawings were used to inform a design and build tender with local contractors
  • BIM information prevented clashes between beams and intrusion into service zones and parts of the building fabric
  • on site, with no access to technology, the site manager used 3D drawings to help orientate himself through complicated areas of the building.

Rob Annable of Axis Design said: “We were able to generate a level of BIM detail that radically altered the way key parts of the building were discussed and designed. This avoided errors on site, simplified areas of the construction and assisted the entire team in interpreting the problems and challenges.”

The project was the first Axis Design development which utilised  a full BIM scheme and the firm said that the 3D model had been used in many ways, from allowing it to test ideas by making live adjustments to a projection of the model in team meetings to informing discussion and testing of steel fabrication requirements or mechanical services.

With the government requiring that all public sector centrally procured construction projects are delivered using collaborative 3D BIM by 2016, wider adoption of BIM across the construction sector looks set to follow and the Birmingham case illustrates the benefits this approach can bring.

However, as BIM evolves, users are likely to need to get to grips with related legal issues, including ownership of the model, building BIM into contractual relationships and design liability and may find it helpful to have access to specialists in the field.

Palmersconstruction specialists can provide expert advice on legal matters arising from BIM, including incorporation into contracts and other commercial agreements. For more information, please contact Adam Davis.