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Solid Foundations for Successful BIM

Posted: 22nd May 2014

1. Set out your requirements

It is imperative to set out the Employers Information Requirements – in essence the information you want from the BIM model – as early as possible in the capital/delivery phase of the project.

The more stakeholders you involve, the better. This reduces assumptions being made and any associated waste that comes with guessing what the stakeholder wants which is then incorrectly communicated in the requirements.

Establishing project requirements early allows the design team to focus on what they do best - creating a fantastic design that achieves the project brief.

Designers need to be conscious of structuring design data in a way that considers the needs of others collaborating on the model, for example enabling cost plans to be generated.


- Set your Employers Information Requirements first and then think about producing the model

- Enable true collaboration by structuring model data with the rest of the teams requirements in mind

2. Build a winning team

  • Build a BIM-capable team

Interns like me can help kick-start your BIM journey! We’re cost effective and eager to learn new ways of working. For organisations who want to test the waters with different BIM software, many students have access to free licences as part of their course.

Once younger members of staff are familiar with the software and processes, put their new skills to good use to up-skill other team members.

You’re then in a good place to start trialling BIM on live projects internally. You can test BIM without sharing it outside the company whilst you find your feet. When you’re comfortable, you can start sharing your models and (hard-won) experience with others. Once you’ve taken this step you’ll be well on the path to true BIM enlightenment!

  • Foster collaboration amongst the project team

Engage the project team early and get everyone working together from the start.

The best BIM is achieved through early appointment of the supply chain.

Meet early to prompt initial conversations, make those difficult decisions, and address issues which may have been overlooked during a rushed design phase.

Clients have an important role here - driving any remaining assumptions and uncertainties from the brief. The project team then has the best possible chance to respond with a fully resolved, coordinated design.

Its worth noting when we talk about early engagement we also mean the contractor and the rest of the supply chain.

Benefit from the contractor’s ‘buildability’ expertise by getting them on board early.

You’ll find a lot of manufacturers and suppliers have been using 3D CAD/BIM for years. Use their experience to save huge amounts of time and budget by simply plugging their 3D components into your BIM models.

3. Cut unnecessary rework

Design management - controlling the design phase to achieve project objectives - is not new and is just as applicable to BIM.

First, adopt a ‘volume strategy’ to minimise any clashes in the design. Consider a volume as a 3D jigsaw piece – all the volumes fit together to make a complete model.

Get your team to decide roughly where everything goes before they put pen to paper (or whatever the digital equivalent is!) Clashes - for example where a length of pipework hits a structural beam - can largely be prevented by first breaking the building down into volumes and then assigning ‘ownership’ over the volumes to the appropriate disciplines.

Whilst a good volume strategy is key to minimising clashes in the first instance, it’s inevitable that the odd one or two will slip through. You therefore need to run clash detection on your models before issuing them out to the other members of the team i.e. ‘clash avoidance’ rather than clash detection. This minimises the number of issues that need to be resolved collaboratively, saving everyone time and money.

It’s your work, be proud of it and make sure that its spot on before it leaves the office!

In summary

We had a great day with Mervyn and we all learnt an enormous amount. Our key lessons learned were to:

- get the Employer’s Information Requirements set out early so that everyone on the team understands

what’s needed from the BIM model;

- get a BIM-capable project team in place as soon as possible and working together collaboratively; and

- instigate good design management processes to minimise the potential for unnecessary duplication or


Many of these foundations are set out in PAS 1192-2:2013. Get a handle on it and you could soon become a BIM Master!

Contributor: Dan Bland is an intern currently working for The Clarkson Alliance Limited, a firm of consultant project managers and information managers based in Oxford and London. To find out more about the information management services that TCA provide see our website dedicated to BIM at

Mervyn Richards OBE is the author of BIM standard PAS 1192:2013 , developed with Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Building Information Modelling (BIM) Task Group and Director of Avanti Partnership, a consultancy for BIM training, management and education.