What is BIM Coordination?

By Maria Adames | Collaboration, Data Management, Visualization

In the ever-changing landscape of modern design and construction, building information modeling (BIM) has proved to be a pivotal technology that has transformed how buildings are designed. 

However, many would argue that the most significant benefit of BIM is its ability to create a digital framework that can unite the different construction trades, minimize errors, and guarantee that no time is wasted during the project’s construction phase. This process is known as BIM coordination.

Key Components of BIM Coordination

BIM coordination is about much more than simply creating a data-filled 3d model of a project. Instead, it is a way to use BIM information to bring all involved stakeholders onto the same page and streamline the design and construction process. Effective BIM coordination relies on four key components: detailed BIM models, accessible information, collaboration, and trade integration.

  • Detailed BIM Models: 3D models used for BIM collaboration are more than just a visual representation of a project’s physical appearance. Effective models provide a platform for shared information about a building’s conditions before and after it is built, paving the way for the next crucial component, accessible information.
  • Accessible information: Whether it is an investor, safety manager, or a trade overseer when everyone involved has access to functional information about a building project, it facilitates communication among the different construction disciplines and allows for better organization and shorter overall project completion times.
  • Collaboration: The ability to meet project deadlines depends heavily on minimizing “construction downtime.” Or, in other words, ensuring no time is wasted. For specific trades, like plumbing and electrical, workers can only begin their jobs after the excavation and structural workers have finished theirs. BIM collaboration allows every trade overseer to monitor the project progression and collaborate with other teams to plan the perfect moment to begin their work without causing issues with other trades or wasting precious time. 
  • Trade Integration: Sometimes, when various independent teams are working on a facility, issues may arise, costing funds and valuable time. For this reason, integrating all construction trades into a single BIM model is essential. Modern 3D modeling software programs feature cutting-edge clash detection systems that predict and alert engineers, construction workers, and project managers if problems exist between different disciplines.

BIM Coordination Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

A successful BIM coordination plan should be structured and organized. The following sequence can benefit engineers and builders before, during, and after construction. 

Step 1: Pre-Construction Planning 

In the pre-construction phase of a project, the main goal is to determine the scope of the project, as well as budget caps, project parameters, and potential challenges that may arise over the course of the construction phases. Conceptual designs are typically created in the pre-construction phase to provide a platform that facilitates BIM coordination.

Step 2: BIM Modeling and Team Integration

Once a basic 3D model is created, engineers from the different construction disciplines can begin to collaborate on converting the design from a conceptual idea into a functional model that will provide all the information needed to start construction. Each trade can “fill in the blanks” until a single unified model exists. 

Step 3: Clash Identification and Resolution

Once the model used for BIM collaboration is complete, clash identification can begin. In this phase, the engineers in their respective trades will meet to discuss any clashes identified within their designs and work out a plan to resolve them cost-effectively.

Step 4: Construction

After the BIM Model is finalized, construction can begin. As the building project advances, construction is added to the model in real-time to help stakeholders keep track of budgets and deadlines.

Step 5: Operation and Maintenance 

The usefulness of BIM coordination doesn’t end once construction comes to a close. An active BIM model is a valuable resource to facility managers, giving them insight into a building’s health. Real-time data provided by on-site sensors can help determine the perfect moment for building system maintenance, renovation, and replacement. 

Tools and Technologies for Effective BIM Coordination

The effectiveness of BIM coordination relies heavily on the tools and technologies utilized in its processes. While successful BIM collaboration can be carried out with minimal software, dedicating additional resources to optional BIM tools like virtual reality (VR) yields greater results in many cases.

  • BIM Software – A capable BIM modeling software is the beating heart of successful coordination. Autodesk Revit is the industry standard. However, programs like McNeel Rhinoceros and Graphisoft Archicad deliver powerful design features at a more accessible price point.
  • Cloud-Based Collaboration Platforms – A cloud-based collaboration platform is the second piece of the coordination puzzle. These programs facilitate communication regarding specific aspects of a project. Naturally, pairing a cloud-based collaboration platform with BIM software from the same company is the most effective. However, independent software programs are also available. Autodesk BIM Collaborate and Trimble Connect are two of the most popular coordination tools among engineering and construction firms.
  • AR and VR Tools – While AR (augmented reality) and VR tools are not essential to effective BIM collaboration, they provide a high-tech method to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page regarding project expectations. Many AR and VR programs, like Enscape, can be seamlessly integrated into BIM software, facilitating a new level of collaboration.

Benefits of Implementing BIM Coordination in Construction

Successfully implementing BIM coordination requires time, money, and resources. However, in most cases, the benefits greatly outweigh the initial investment. Among many others, some of the benefits that come with BIM coordination include: 

  • Improved Construction Efficiency: The communication resulting from implementing BIM coordination leads to smoother workflows and fewer construction errors. 
  • Higher Quality Buildings: When everyone on an engineering and construction team is on the same page with design principles and project details, the overall quality of the structure increases.
  • Enhanced Sustainability and Facility Performance: BIM can help ensure that buildings meet current ISO Standards and are utilized in the most energy-efficient way possible, leading to cleaner and more sustainable Facilities. 
  • Reduced Delays and Overall Costs: Identifying and correcting clashes before the construction phase helps avoid unnecessary setbacks and the waste of allocated funds. 


INDUSTRIES: Architecture, Buildings, Civil Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, Construction, MEP Engineering, Structural Engineering, Subcontractor

Published on July 5, 2024 in .

About the Author

Maria Adames is an AEC Applications Specialist at Microsol Resources based out of the Boston area. She is an architectural designer with vast experience in applying technology to practice, using tools such as Revit, AutoCAD, Rhino, Enscape, and more.

Maria complements her architectural interests with a strong ability in digital fabrication and modeling techniques, which he has exercised in constructing architectural 3D models. Working as an architectural designer, she developed an interest in technology for the construction industry and the future of the many professions involved in it.

Maria received her Master of Architecture from the Boston Architectural Center and her Bachelor of Architecture from Pontificia Universidad in the Dominican Republic. She is fluent in Spanish as well as English. During her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring new places.