This article is the briefest of introductions to a topic that has, over the past year, become perhaps the biggest talking point in UK construction, BIM, and what I want to bring to the attention of IDE members is, what BIM is and why it matters to the demolition industry. 

I’ll deal with the second point first. Demolition contractors are usually the first man in on major development works, less the tail-end Charlie and more the bomb aimer, or perhaps BIM-aimer, and as the biggest client in regeneration and capital works, the Government is championing BIM. In March 2011 the Government’s Construction Clients Group issued a report in which is recommended that by 2016 all government construction projects were to be delivered using building information modelling to a “maturity level” of 2. On 31st May 2011 the government announced in its Government Construction Strategy that it intended to require BIM on its projects by 2016.  More than this, while BIM, in various guises, has been around for some time, the Government’s push has enlivened designers’ and contractors’ interest in BIM and many are now bringing it to the table of other clients.

There are two aspects of the intended BIM approach that could impact upon demolition works and they sit at the cradle and grave end of the scale.

If you go in first on a contract that operates a BIM system, probably particularly so where demolition is not total and therefore information has to feed in to the design process, then you will need to be aware of the requirements of the system and the extent to which your contractual obligations will require your interaction with that system.

With regards to the ‘grave’ end of the scale, the intention is that new build BIM projects will includes information necessary for eventual demolition and this presents a business opportunity for demolition engineers generally and, as an Institute, we could play an important role in information development and management. Many people appreciate that constructions act differently in deconstruction than they do in construction but not all designers do so and therefore being available to designers on BIM projects that develop information to the ‘grave’ could offer opportunities for demolition engineers to influence construction. 

So, having indicated why it matters to our industry, what is BIM?

Building Information Modelling (“BIM”), or Building Information Modelling and Management (“BIMM”) the description the Government is increasingly favouring, in some form or other has been around for more than 3 decades, but the Government initiative it has given it a new lease of life and a new prominence.

The Construction Project Information Committee defines BIM as a “digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility creating a shared knowledge resource for information about it forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle, from earliest conception to demolition.”    Some say it is smart CAD but it goes further in that while the lowest level of BIM may, in all probability, be a 2D CAD tool as the level of sophistication increases 3D modelling comes in to play, although these are refined by reference to information management protocols, such as BS1192:2007, then develops to digital prototype models, with information databases within the model which allows interactivity between elements of the design and the highest level, the BIM utopia, which is a fully interoperable system that is shared by all those involved in the project and, importantly, shared in real-time.

These various levels are part of what is known as the “BIM Evolutionary Ramp” and Levels 0, 1, 2 and 3, with levels 1 and 2 most commonly used (Level 0 being seen by many as run-of-the-mill CAD). The aim of the Government appears to be for BIM Level 2 being operable on its contracts.  Various systems are available that have been specifically designed and tailored as BIM but in essence it is less about particular software and more about the concept of integration of building information to allow for more efficient and therefore economic management of building design, construction, operation and demolition.

Some of you may already have come across BIM requirements on projects and be very much aware of its impact, or perhaps lack of impact, because one of the interesting pieces of data collection suggests that BIM has had a very mixed reception, from “cannot see the value”, through “used it and liked it” to “using it more and more”.  As with any new initiative, people react to it in different ways, because it means either more work or working in a different way. But I think it fair to say that, in all probability, BIM, in some form or other, is here to stay and may become a matter of wide practice and that will matter to anyone working in the contracting environment.

If you want to know more about BIM please contact the author who will happy to direct you to reference materials and internet information. 

Author: Michael R Ulyatt LLB(Hons) DipSurv, MRICS MIDE MCIOB

The content of this article represents the personal views of the author and nothing is to be taken as representing the views, opinions, policy or position of any other persons or organisations mentioned herein or of The Institute of Demolition Engineers.