Case study

Building Information Modelling, changing the process of construction

Describes the potential to increase the effectiveness of construction through the sharing and use of data.

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The government seeks to increase the supply of new affordable homes in England by 2018. One of the ways government is doing this is by championing the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to the UK construction industry. BIM is a collaborative way of working that creates more efficient methods of designing and creating buildings through the entire life-cycle of a construction project. BIM is computer technology that embeds key product data in 3D images that can be used for effective project management.

BIM offers a more efficient cost effective way of building homes through the reduction of asset costs, achieving greater operational efficiency and effectiveness of construction supply chains.

A collection of 3D computer generated images are placed on top of each other to virtually build online the desired construction, these images include roads, landscaping and other amenities that make up the entire project. This enables developers and architects to collaboratively avoid time delaying setbacks in the construction stages of building, by reducing risk to planning approvals.

The key competitive advantage of BIM is its ability to promote greater transparency and collaboration between suppliers and thereby reduce waste (procurement, process and material) through all levels of the supply chain. A key driver of the rapid adoption of BIM by clients and industry is that the benefits it creates are shared by the client and the entire supply chain.

Axis Design, have successfully implemented BIM on a scheme, Meon Grove, in the east of Birmingham. The use of BIM technology has allowed them to find new ways for the whole construction team to benefit. For example, using the same workflow to deliver public consultation information managed and developed by the same team responsible for planning applications and construction has been of great financial value.

The 3D model can be exported in a fixed format for anyone to view without the need for any investment in additional software. The critical benefit for both consultant and client is the ability to efficiently provide 3D drawings and models in a single workflow, avoiding additional costs and time for duplication in alternative software tools or requiring external skills.

Site constraints such as protected trees and services put the hoped for housing density under pressure and creative accommodation typologies were required to meet the brief in terms of economic viability, exemplar design and space standards.

The BIM model gave the client full confidence of the complex geometry in the 3 storey block of flats raised over an undercroft parking area. Depicting this to the client and constructor ensured there was support from all stakeholders due to the planning approval that was secured due to the 3D model.

The approved planning drawings were then used by the client to inform a design and build tender with local contractors, again proving the value in testing the building layout in three dimensions at the earliest stage and reducing the risk for tenderers.

The degree of information embedded in the initial BIM package prepared for planning application stage, standard house type drawings provides efficiently, allowing greater focus on the more complicated areas of construction.

Knowledge gained from the implementation stage created output benefits for both the design team and client. The use of BIM information prevented clashes between beams and intrusion into designated service zones and parts of the building fabric. Whilst on site, without access to technology, the value of informative 3D drawings assisted the site manager in orientating himself through complicated areas of the building.

Rob Annable of Axis said, “We were able to generate a level of BIM detail that radically altered the way key parts of the building were discussed and designed. This avoided errors on site, simplified areas of the construction and assisted the entire team in interpreting the problems and challenges on the project clearly to the client; thus allowing well informed decisions.”

If you would like more information on how BIM can benefit you please contact Affordable Housing Manager, Fay McCulloch on 0207 874 5963 or fay.mcculloch@hca.gsi.gov.uk.

Published 4 August 2015