What is BIM (Building Information Modeling)?

By Jeremy Godenzi | BIM

What is BIM?

Building information modeling is at the heart of what is happening in the modern construction process that AEC professionals are working with. It makes it possible to do a construction project more quickly, bringing value to project teams and stakeholders. The workflows that BIM introduced will radically transform how easily we can complete construction projects in the future. There are tools from Autodesk and other companies that are leading a digital transformation that is unlike anything you have ever witnessed before.


BIM provides the information management that structural engineers, architects, and other players in the AEC industry need to work together. It creates a collaborative process that construction professionals use to design projects. Everyone in the project can work on one 3D model instead of having their own individual 3D designs. That 3D model can be annotated with the information needed by various professionals. This makes the BIM process crucial for creating projects that would take decades in any other scenario.


The entire process of planning, designing, and working through the construction process is improved dramatically. The use of computer-aided design tools to create a digital representation of the project is also a complete game-changer. BIM has been crucial in creating some of the most impressive projects seen to date. Many of these projects would have taken decades or longer with previous technology. BIM technology is completely transforming an industry that was lagging behind the digital transformation happening in almost every other industry in the world.

How does BIM work?

BIM works by combining CAD technology with various engineering models of how things are supposed to work. Using our understanding of material properties and physics, we can simulate how structures will work on our computers. We then use these computer designs to create architectural blueprints that are turned into a finished project. Throughout that process, various physical models can be applied by different professionals.


Tools like Autodesk Revit also feature the ability to integrate piping and other building information into your 3D model. This makes it possible to have one central location where the model is managed. The model is simply worked on by many different people simultaneously. Each professional brings their special skills to the table, combining them to get a finished project that works well for stakeholders. Simulations can be carried out, meaning you can see how certain things will work without building and testing them in the real world.


This level of sophistication has made the decision-making process easy for construction management. The benefits of BIM in the construction industry are only now being showcased. In fact, it is only going to get there in the future. Since your 3D model is in the virtual world, you can do all sorts of simulations to understand how various decisions will impact your environment. You can do visualization to get an idea of how the project will look before it has even been completed. This makes it possible to let clients know what they are getting before it is done.

Why is BIM important?

The BIM process has been revolutionary for the construction industry. Few technologies have done so much to radically change this single industry. It has created a common data environment where team members can do renovations or sequencing in a way that will be a game-changer for future building projects. BIM makes it easy for project teams to complete projects relatively quickly. It is a centralized place for handling everything needed to get a project to completion easily. Because of that, it has been made a must for every AEC professional.

For example, in previous years, every single professional had to do things with separate project models. Architects had their own designs that they worked on, and then the structural engineers would also have their own designs. There was little collaboration, meaning things would take much longer to fix. You also did not have the advantage of running simulations relatively quickly without any issues. There is something special about creating a finished project in the digital world and having everything seamlessly transition to the real world.


It is now possible for hundreds or even thousands of people to work on the same project while being on the same page. You can even do facility management much easier now because they will have access to the finished 3D model to make repairs. The model will contain all the various electrical outlets and piping inside the building. If there’s a leak, you know where it came from because you have a 3D model of the project right in front of you. That model is very detailed, meaning that you will most likely not miss anything when working on repairs.


BIM is creating a world where construction projects no longer need to take decades to complete. You also no longer need to go through many phases and designs because everyone needs to see and sign off before the design is passed to the next stage. Everyone has access to a 3D model and can make a decision based on that access. BIM gets even more important because projects will only get more complicated as time goes on. The level of sophistication that BIM has brought leads to 100 billion-dollar projects that could not be done with previous technology. Best of all, these exceptional megaprojects are being built relatively quickly compared to the alternatives.

Advantages of BIM

The main advantage of BIM is that not everyone is on the same page when creating a construction project. You can create BIM standards that all your AEC professionals must adhere to. Building components can be picked from a library inside a program, meaning you can essentially build a complicated project like you would with Lego blocks. The collaborative process you go through when working with modern construction projects also means that you get a certain level of sophistication that was impossible before.


You can now build in a way that was previously impossible. Every single phase of the construction process has been improved using BIM software. The information inside your 3D model makes it possible to build your project much faster than before. It can also mean you will need less staff to achieve the same results, saving millions on potential projects.


The other major advantage of BIM is that you can easily showcase what you have created. You will now know what needs to be changed because your stakeholders can see what the project would look like before it is built. All the various design ideas you are thinking about can be showcased. For example, you can easily change a façade in real-time instead of rebuilding it after completing the project. The use of BIM in this way is quite revolutionary. There are built-in tools that make it possible to do things like clash detection and other geometric shape comparisons. All of this leads to a situation where projects are built quickly and efficiently.

What are BIM Levels?

BIM has four levels of implementation where everything goes a lot easier because of this technology.


The evaluation and assessment stage is the first phase of BIM. Building information modeling makes this process easy because you can easily use software tools to assess how feasible this project will be. You can use tools to get an idea of how much it will cost for materials and labor, and you can even figure out which processes and workflows will work best for your team.


After this process has been completed, the next phase is to work on standardizing everything for your team to work together easily. This is a major step because it means that everyone will be on the same page for the future.


The next phase after this is the construction and design phase. The design phase can be done with modern BIM tools like Autodesk Revit. These tools manage the entire 3D model and electrical conduits and piping. This means that everything can be passed on to the contractor with ease. The contractor can take the design and build it without having to do various jobs over and over. When the contractor is confident that they are doing the right things, you don’t have to pay extra money for things to be done over again.


The final phase is during operations and maintenance. A digital model means the operational staff can easily see where things need to go when repairs occur. That means the building will be kept to a higher standard much easier.

The Future of BIM

BIM is only getting more critical as the future goes on. We will see drones being used for doing infrastructure projects because you can use these drones to take topographical maps much more accurately. BIM software is also being integrated with machine learning features to automatically generate designs and solve complicated building problems more efficiently. The future of the construction industry is BIM, and its importance will only grow with time.

Getting Started with BIM

Moving to BIM can seem like a daunting task, in this video, we take a look at two strategies that will help your firm create an effective BIM vision and manage change during your transition to BIM.

Need to learn how to successfully implement BIM at your firm? Contact us.

INDUSTRIES: Architecture, Buildings, Construction, MEP Engineering, Structural Engineering

Published on July 23, 2022 in BIM.

About the Author

Jeremy joined us in 2019 and brings with him a history of building relationships with the architect, contractor and engineer base. In his free time he enjoys running, social sports leagues and comedy shows.