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Building Information Modeling: What is B.I.M.?

Welcome to the first post in our series on Building Information Modeling! I invite you to take a few minutes (3.5 to be exact) to watch this introductory video from Graphisoft on Building Information Modeling – just keep in mind, they are selling software to designers.

What is B.I.M.?

According to Wikipedia:

Building information modeling (B.I.M.) is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. The resulting building information models become shared knowledge resources to support decision-making about a facility from earliest conceptual stages, through design and construction, through its operational life and eventual demolition.

Translated into English, B.I.M. is a sharable collection of building data, including a three-dimensional (3D) computer model of the entire project. This model includes data about each of the physical building elements (foundation, windows, plumbing system, site lighting, etc.) that make up the project, including the location, number, and size of those elements.

The model can also include information related to time (adding a 4th dimension to the B.I.M.), cost (a fifth dimension), and all aspects of managing the project lifecycle (a 6th dimension).

Levels of B.I.M.

  • 3D B.I.M.: Building Information Models in 3 Dimensions

  • 4D B.I.M.: 3D + Time (Think Einstein’s Space-Time Continuum)

  • 5D B.I.M.: 4D + Cost (Think Project Management’s Scope-Budget-Schedule. All 3 are now covered.)

  • 6D B.I.M.: 5D + all aspects of project life-cycle management information


Benefits of “6D B.I.M.”

Imagine a flooring contractor preparing a proposal for a project. If the project was designed using B.I.M., the contractor would simply search the B.I.M. database for all of the flooring types, their locations and exact quantities. A perfectly accurate list could be generated along with links to all applicable specifications.

This method is far more accurate and efficient than the traditional method – which involves reviewing a set of paper drawings and specification manuals, making hand measurements, calculations and notes (which are never perfectly accurate). Just think how many times the floor area of a public building gets measured over the course of its service life. With today’s technology, this is a silly waste of time.

When B.I.M. is fully executed, it will save contractors unimaginable hours performing tasks that have no lasting value to the building owners.

And in a full 6D B.I.M. implementation, the flooring contractor would also have access to bidding and contracting information including the progress schedule. The general contractor (GC) would accept proposals electronically, and all of this information would be forever stored in the B.I.M. model for easy reference.

This series on Building Information Modeling continues: 

  1. (This post) Building Information Modeling: What is B.I.M.?

  2. Building Information Modeling: Why Everyone Who Deals with Buildings Should Care about B.I.M.

  3. Building Information Modeling: B.I.M. and Building Lifecycle Management (BLM )

  4. Building Information Management & Modeling

To learn more about how PFCS leverages B.I.M., browse our services or give us a call at our Southern California Office (949) 240-9971 or Portland Office (503) 660-8670.