BIM Explainer

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For years I have enjoyed the science-based comic strip XKCD, by Randall Monroe. Many of these comic strips, like the one on Standards, really resonate with me. However, my favorite of Randall’s creation is the book ‘Thing Explainer’ and its premise, to explain ‘things’ only using the one thousand most common English words. As the convenor of the CEN working group and ISO task force related to BIM terminology as well as the author of There’s No BIM Like Home, I was inspired by this book. Using the same one thousand word constraint, I have written this piece about Building Information Modelling (BIM); I hope you enjoy.

Urrgh! Some Hat men just want to watch the world burn….

BIM Explainer

When we build, things can often go wrong. Ordered parts might be the wrong part, wrong size or put in the wrong place. Things like this have been happening around the world for years. This has been because when we share information, we only share just enough instead of sharing the right information to help others. This means when we try and use this information, it’s often confusing or missing bits; meaning we make bad choices using bad information.

Our leaders saw this problem and wanted to help. They wrote papers telling us we were not building as well as we should be. These papers said we fought too much instead of working together; we didn’t listen. In 2009, when the banks broke, building owners didn’t have enough money to build, so our leaders told us (again) that we needed to work together to build better; we (still) didn’t listen. Because we didn’t listen our leaders had to think of a way to make us listen. They told us that if we wanted to work for them, we had to use Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Our leaders chose BIM because they saw how working together can help us make good choices when using good information other project teams. To help even more, new papers were made explaining how to share information. They explained how owners can ask for good information to make good choices about their build:

[Employer’s Information Requirements]

  • Who shares the information; [outline responsibility matrix]
  • What information is needed; [information requirements]
  • When information is needed by; and [project milestones]
  • Why owners need the information shared. [information purposes]

By having owners say this, builders could write back saying:

[Pre-contract BIM Execution Plan]

  • Who they will use to help them; [project implementation plan]
  • What information they will share; [PIM deliverable strategy]
  • When information will be shared by; and [project milestones]
  • How they plan to work together. [project goals for collaboration]

After a builder wins the job, they plan with their team what parts of the job they will do [responsibility matrix], what information is needed and by when [master information delivery plan], as well as how information needs to be set out [standards, methods, and procedures]; writing all of this into a single agreed plan for everyone to follow [post contract-award BIM execution plan]. To make sure everyone can follow the plan, the builders check their team’s skills [supply chain assessments] before starting the job.

As they do the job, each team follows the agreed plan on how to set out their information [task information management] and owns their information; making sure that their information lines up with the work of other teams before sharing their information [clash avoidance]. Each team shared their information for everyone to use and follow the agreed plan on how to name everything, making it easier to find and manage information [common data environment]. The builder also checks with the owner at the end of each stage to make sure what they are building is right for the owner; giving them all the information they need [employer decision points, supplier’s information exchange].

By planning out what information needed and by when, the builder can be sure that no information goes missing [project delivery management]. Also, by planning how information is created, the builder can make sure information is right and can be used by everyone who needs it [project information management]. Finally, by planning how information is shared, the builder can make sure that all information is right and lined by before it is shared [check, review, approve].

At the end of the job, the builder shares all the information about the job [project information model] with the owner. The owner keeps this information to check what the builder did and uses some of it to look after the build [asset information model]. The owner checks that the information is set out as they asked for [asset information requirements]. If this is agreed at the start of a job, the builder can make sure his team gets good information from the start.

Finally, to make sure the owner’s information stays right, the owner must look after this information. When needed, the owner may have to add new information after changes to the build [trigger-related events] to keep their information right.

And that’s it.

By following these steps, builders and their teams can work together to give an owner the information they need. By creating an agreed plan, there is a better chance that the parts ordered for the job won’t be wrong, the wrong size or put in the wrong place. That means less money spent on problems, less time to finish and best of all, a happy owner.

Note: This text was written using the XKCD Simple Writer Tool.

Note: If Building Information Modelling (BIM) and construction information terminology are still causing you difficulty, then the free BRE BIM Terminology Tool should be able to help.

Note: If you have any comments about ‘BIM explainer’, then please let me know either on Twitter or by commenting below.