What Is Building Information Modelling And How Does It Work?

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As technology progresses, it becomes part of many industries. One industry that is using technology to progress is the construction and architecture industry. This industry is using building information modelling and understanding what that is can help you learn more about the processes to create an effective model for construction projects. In this article, we discuss building information modelling, describe how BIM software works, examine its stages, elements and functions, and explore BIM levels.

What Is Building Information Modelling?

Building information modelling is the creation of a 3D model for simulation, planning, coordination and documenting purposes. Teams often use BIM for buildings or structures during the planning phase, because it allows collaboration with all team members, including stakeholders, architects, engineers, contractors, developers, sub-contractors and other construction professionals. It can also help you optimise a project past the planning phase, into construction and operation, by making everything more efficient and cost-effective.

Related: Types Of 3D Modelling Jobs (Career Tips, Skills And Salary)

How Does BIM Software Work?

BIM software is used to document and visualise the designs behind the infrastructure. Project managers use BIM to model as many details as possible in a structure so that everyone can clearly understand it. With BIM models, ideas for a structure can undergo experimentation and general discussion. BIM software is used to track the life cycle of a project, even through renovations. The process of BIM is:

Planning stage

The planning stage of BIM software development and organisational management includes the tools that professionals can use to visualise and create models for a project. They do this by using the software to capture and analyse data from processes and systems that already exist within the organisation and using those to create accurate BIM models. Once they create these models, they can then use that data and those models to prepare designs for the infrastructure they wish to create. For example, an organisation can use BIM to plan for changes to an existing building or to plan a new structure.

Related: How To Become A 3D Artist: Skills, Qualifications And Duties

Designing stage

Once the team collects data using the BIM software, they can use that data to design a construction model. Using the software, they find and use data to create an incomplete model as data, numbers, statistics and other information. At this stage, there is no rendered model of the construction project, even though the data for such a model is complete. This means that construction professionals may not understand what the intent of the values is, but analysts and other BIM professionals understand that this is the second to last stage of the BIM software process.

Building stage

The final stage of the BIM software process is to create a rendered model of the construction project. The BIM team uses this model for other stakeholders in the project, such as construction experts, stakeholders, and project leaders. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, there may only be one BIM model or several, and each one can help everyone understand the tasks to complete the project, and how their specific skills apply to the construction of the building project. At this stage, the models are complete, though stakeholders can request edits before the project begins.

Related: 10 Interior Design Software Tools (With Features And Tips)

What Are The Elements Of BIM?

The BIM process comprises five interrelated elements that create a successful BIM model and project. Below are descriptions of each element of BIM:

  • Information: Models and documents are important components of BIM information. In BIM, models are representations of 3D components such as a building, while documents are representations of 2D components such as files, videos and photographs.

  • Processes: You can use BIM to track the processes needed to complete a project. Most often, professionals use BIM to track a project through its completion, including each task that professionals complete while finishing a project stage.

  • Policies: In BIM, policies are guidelines everyone follows to make decisions. This allows a project to maintain its intended schedule and helps professionals reduce waste and improve processes.

  • People: There are several important roles in BIM. They include a BIM manager, a BIM technologist, and a BIM consultant.

  • Technologies: Depending on the stage of a project, BIM includes different technologies to improve other parts of the process. These include software, hardware and tools professionals can use to manage each stage of a project.

Related: 35 Construction Project Manager Interview Questions

Functions Of A BIM Object

The functions of a BIM object include:

  • Building: Each object within a BIM model includes information about a building. For example, any time a manager changes a specific part of an object, the entire model updates to reflect that change.

  • Storing: Each object within a BIM model includes a large amount of storage which professionals can use to work on a project collaboratively. This means many professionals can work on the same model and change information, making the planning process faster.

  • Updating: A major benefit of using BIM is the fact that they reflect any change to the software or information within a BIM model. This allows project managers and other stakeholders to remain up-to-date on a project because the model always updates itself automatically.

  • Syncing: Since BIM updates automatically and stores information, it creates an automatic record that anyone involved in the project can access. This is important because anyone can refer to a specific stage of the project and use it for comparison at later stages of the project.

Related: 10 Construction Management Skills: Examples And Tips

BIM Levels

As you rise through the six levels of BIM, the required expertise, collaboration, and sharing of information increase accordingly. Below are descriptions of each level of BIM:

BIM level zero

BIM level zero means there is no collaboration with unique members of the team, or that only paper drawings or digital printing are being used. There is no model being shared among team members, regardless of whether one actually exists. Project managers use this level for projects that do not involve BIM usage in the contract, and for the moment, do not intend to.

BIM level one

Under BIM level one, project managers may use 3D modelling for conceptual work. Any information that is communicated to other departments or team members is entirely in 2D. This means that documentation and production information are all done in 2D drawings or digitalised printouts. In this format of collaboration, the stakeholders are not very involved, and each manages their own data concerning the project.

BIM level two

In BIM level two, all team members collaborate using BIM software and 3D models. This increased collaboration involves more cooperative data. At this stage, all team members may not always use the same model. Stakeholders share information with team members through a common file formatting system. At this level, collaboration increases and projects gain efficiency.

BIM level three

In BIM level three, an entire organisation uses the BIM software for full collaboration. This means that a representative from each discipline within a project communicates through the BIM software and models with representatives from other disciplines, allowing input from professionals throughout the entire process. This means that professionals can work together to create equal amounts of work within their respective disciplines and create a plan to complete a project quickly and effectively. At this level, everyone can access and edit the data for a project.

Related: Architect Vs Construction Manager: What Is The Difference?

BIM level four

BIM level four introduces scheduling data to the attributes of level three. With this, a team may also assign an estimated date of completion to any part of the project. This allows for more efficient planning and collaboration among a team. It also provides the ability to project expectation dates easily.

BIM level five

At level five, budget-related additions become part of the collaboration effort. Project members can measure estimated costs and begin budget analysis and tracking. By utilising level five BIM, project managers have real-time cost visualisation tools and a means of simplified cost analysis.

BIM level six

BIM level six is a description of the energy requirements for a construction project. This includes how a building collects, integrates, and reduces energy consumption. Many professionals use this level of BIM to create sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. They can also use this level of BIM to understand the minimum amount of power a structure needs for success, and how to create efficient routes for electricity to follow to save money on power consumption.

Explore more articles