Understanding the power of BIM

What is Building Information Modeling?

BIM has proven itself to be more than just a buzzword, we can safely say Building Information Modeling is here to stay. In this blog we will explore the fundamentals of BIM and supply a comprehensive run-through to help those on their journey to becoming BIM experts.


BIM & the built asset lifecycle

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has steadily risen to the top of the digital toolkit for asset owners, general contractors and the entire supply chain. Since its introduction, organisations have had proven success with their BIM strategies. BIM is now so integrated into the built asset landscape that it is a mandate in many countries 


Explore how BIM is transforming the way built assets are managed, from delivery to decommissioning.
Read on to find out more about:


  • What is BIM?
  • Common BIM misconceptions
  • How BIM works
  • The future of BIM
What is BIM?

The basics of BIM

Building Information Modeling, or BIM for short, is powerful software that allows asset owners and their teams to visualise asset data such as physical characteristics and the functionalities within them in a 3D model. For example, 3D blueprints of a power plant, and the cooling system within it.  

An added layer of 4D visualisation is also a main part of the BIM platform, where progress, actions, communication, costs and more can be explored as one centralised entity. Essentially, this gives teams a virtual walkthrough of their asset, which can be utilised for the entire lifecycle from design and planning, all the way through to operations, maintenance and even decommissioning. 

The concepbehind BIM

For every digital solution developed for the asset lifecycle, there is a shared target to create a better, safer industry through the same goals. Naturally, BIM also adopts these goals. Collaboration and transparency go hand in hand for asset owners, their teams, contractors, supply chain and stakeholders. Beyond costly delays or pricing up wasted materials and resources, having a team with a single source of truth is crucial for building safer, sustainable assets that match the high quality that is expected. 

The goal
How BIM helps
  • Collaboration
    A single source of truth for all parties
    Clear audit trails for all communication
    Identify issues quickly
    Rectify issues before they grow
    One database for all information
    Automation to save time
    Data analysis to understand budgets

The beauty of BIM software is that these improvements can occur naturally when an organisation fully embraces the technology.

Busting BIM myths

Common BIM misconceptions

Misunderstandings as to what BIM is can stem from confusing definitions filled with complicated phrasing and industry jargon.

ISO 19650 defines BIM as the “use of structured data and information to support the delivery of a project and operation of an asset” and PAS 1192 as a “process of designing, constructing, or operating a building or infrastructure asset using electronic object-oriented information”. Other definitions often provided by software companies simply reduce BIM to a modeling tool, leaving out the valuable management part. 

Simply put, BIM is here to stay. 3D modelling has brought the built asset industry into a new era, and BIM is always being pushed to new capabilities, such as with 4D and 5D dimensions.

With modeling in the name, it’s understandable that this is what comes to mind. Of course, modeling is a vital part of BIM, but tools such as partial models, viewpoints, 2D drawings, and added documents offer a vast scope and fresh perspective to any asset.

More than just software, BIM facilitates a more collaborative way of working, bridging organisational silos, connecting asset managers with the supply chain, and making information easily accessible for everyone.

Excitingly, BIM doesn’t have to be limited to just building construction. The method of collaboration and strategically organised information can be applied throughout the industry, on a variety of asset types.

Investing time and money into BIM can be daunting. Organisations should consider if the investment would be beneficial for their streamlined workflows, collaboration, organised information, and planning foresight. Ultimately, even for SMEs, BIM can save costs down the line.

How BIM works

The BIM software stack

BIM is typically thought about it in terms of use cases. This means every task can be digitised within 3D model(s) and/or data that is linked to the model(s). The most common BIM use cases include: 

Clash detection

Identifying if and where different parts of a building might interfere with one another in 3D

BIM validation

Checking the quality of the data in the BIM models to enable other BIM use cases

BIM data management

Adding or manipulating the data in the BIM models (i.e. adding a cost code to structure quantities following trade packages)


Linking the construction schedule to the BIM model to analyse the construction sequence


Extracting quantities from the model to support cost estimation and commercial management

Using an API

Allowing 3rd party access or integrations to extend the use of the models and/or the data

What are BIM levels?

BIM levels were designed to outline a compliant criterion for publicly funded built assets and create industry standard definitions for the different levels of BIM adoption. While debate continues when it comes to the exact parameters of each level, the 0 to 3 BIM Level structure outlines recognisable milestones throughout the BIM process that are essential for efficient collaboration. 

BIM levels aren’t the only internationally recognised framework used to standardise BIM and CDEs. ISO 19650, which is derived from British BIM standard BS 1192, is quickly becoming the new global industry standard. Furthermore, DIN EN ISO 29481 and DIN SPEC 91391 are also commonly used international frameworks. 

Standardising the BIM Levels not only provides governments with a way to mandate compliance for public sector funding, but it also offers a framework of demonstrable progression for the industry. Awareness of the different levels of BIM adoption can drive improvements in the BIM process and help construction companies stay competitive. 

Level 0

Simply put, Level 0 BIM is a lack of BIM and collaboration. It’s rare for any built asset to fall into Level 0 in modern construction. Most data is in the form of 2D computer-aided design (CAD) drawings and all information is documented and exchanged on paper.  

Level 1

A basic CDE as well as 2D and 3D CADs are commonly used. Additionally, adopting naming conventions, outlining roles and responsibilities, creating and maintaining project codes and spatial coordination, and following an informational hierarchy are all necessary to reach Level 1 BIM classification. 

Level 2

In 2016, Level 2 BIM became a requirement for all public sector construction projects in the UK, and compliance must be proven to receive funding. It includes a high level of collaboration and processes. Any CAD software used must be capable of exporting in common file formats and all data is shared in a common data structure. 

Level 3

Sometimes referred to as ‘open BIM’, it revolves around the idea of open data sharing. The vision for Level 3 BIM is full collaboration throughout the planning, construction, and operation phases of a built asset as well as a single source of truth for all data. 

The future of BIM

How BIM has traditionally been used

Until recently, most BIM tools have only supported a small number of use cases, meaning asset owners and their teams have needed to rely on several standalone BIM management products. Despite the aim of BIM being to simplify processes, this approach can cause headaches for organisations when it comes to onboarding teams onto numerous tools, plus the cost for each piece of software.  

BIM Managers can find themselves weighed down with writing exchange protocols and round-tripping model and data conversion, which isn’t suitable for organisations under time and budget pressure. On top of that, it is nearly impossible to draw insight from how projects are performing when the BIM products don’t all have APIs, or when the BIM data is spread across several data islands. 

BIM in a Connected Data Ecosystem

To alleviate the issues explored above, a forward-thinking approach to building information modeling and management is a simple concept: one platform with all the BIM data and required tools in one place.  

With a platform approach, inefficiency from switching between software can be reduced. When the BIM data stays in a single space, the likelihood of it being lost or corrupted is minimal which gives great peace of mind for asset owners, BIM managers, and their teams. Data is not just for organisation’s records but can be analysed and harnessed for crucial insights when it comes to future builds. 

Experience the power of BIM

Thinkproject makes BIM easy with seamless integration across a Connected Data Ecosystem.

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