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1. What is BIM?

Building information Modelling or 'BIM' is the sharing of structured information but also a change in the way we do things.

The key principle is that BIM is not any single act or process. It is not creating a 3D model in isolation from others or utilising computer-based fabrication. It is being aware of the information needs of others as you undertake your part of the process.

There are many definitions of BIM. The focus will vary from designers to constructors and operators. Building Smart defines it as follows:

"BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional charachteristics of a building. As such, it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a building, forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle from inception onward."

A BIM model can contain information/data on design, construction, logistics, operation, maintenance, budgets, schedules and much more. The information contained within BIM enables richer analysis than traditional processes. Information created in one phase can be passed to the next for further development and reuse.

Put simply BIM is about better information management.

2. What is not BIM?

The biggest misconception around BIM is its technical or just anything in 3D. Many people think they can just go buy the box that has BIM written on it and they bring it back to the office and now they are 'doing' BIM. That couldn't be further from the truth, BIM is a series of integrated processes and technologies and unless you practice those processes with the technology you are not doing it and you will not see the rewards or benefits it can bring.

3. So what is BIM about?

BIM is about creating, managing and sharing the structural information/data of a built asset in the most efficient and effective way.

4. What are the benefits of BIM?

BIM delivers benefits to each stage of a building’s life cycle: design, construction and operation. These benefits are enhanced when the process is considered as a whole and the information/data requirements are coordinated.

These are some of the benefits:
- Increased efficiency, project delivery improvements, cost savings and better coordination.
- Improved communication - BIM provides an opportunity to engage clients, contractors and other stakeholders much earlier in the design process when the greatest value can be derived from their input.
- Data Management - BIM can produce comprehensive data files to fully inform Asset/Facility management and maintenance schedules.
- Analysis and Simulation - the relative ease of accurately recalculating performance following changes to the model allows different design options to be explored and optimised.
- Improved productivity of construction.
- BIM facilitates sustainability and minimisation of construction waste.
- BIM promotes truly integrated design and delivery processes.

5. Why bother with BIM?

It means different things with different benefits to each party involved in a BIM project, as a whole it is a better and smarter way of working.

The construction industry is rapidly evolving: a wider uptake of digital technologies is driving the change and demanding industry players to learn new skills and ways of collaboration. BIM facilitates and helps drives that transition.

So, you either jump on the bandwagon or run a risk of lagging behind.

6. Are there cost savings from BIM?

Benefits of BIM can be difficult to quantify by comparison to a built asset where BIM was not used: put simply, there has not been enough data collected by BIM practitioners to date although some case studies begin to make claims around monetary savings resulting from BIM.

We understand there are major savings achieved by tighter information flow. Also, the cost savings are not necessarily on the upfront budget, but the whole project costs including the variety of extra issues that cause cost overruns.

7. Does AM/FM refer to radio settings?

No, in the context of BIM, AM/FM refers to Asset and Facility Management. BIM executed wisely can enable a very cost effective asset/facility management of a built asset.

8. Does BIM require more work?

BIM is a front-loaded exercise which means that it requires more work during early stages of a construction project, particularly at design and procurement phases.

9. How to use BIM?

Other than a digital-tool set, you don’t actually use BIM - it is a way of working, it’s what you do: information modelling and information management in a team environment.

A great place to start is to read the New Zealand BIM handbook (located in the Resources section of this site), it outlines important information about the BIM process, what is required and needs deciding in the early stages of projects and why you might apply BIM.
Following reading the New Zealand BIM handbook you may engage a professional supplier to help with such things as the Project BIM brief and BIM execution plan.

10. How can I tell if BIM providers know what I need?

A great place to start is the New Zealand BIM Handbook this will give you context of what BIM is.
Your BIM provider should be able to guide you through exploration stage of why you might use BIM on a project, advising of potential benefits and risks, working together to understand your needs and how you might apply BIM. This is the outcome of working together and developing a “Project BIM Brief”.

11. Should we run a pilot project with BIM?

Absolutely. In order to gain experience with BIM it is recommended to trial it on a relatively simple, small (in monetary terms) project. That will help create an effective project team led by, preferably, an independent BIM manager. The project team will make mistakes that will help them avoid making them on larger projects in the future.

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