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The Current State of UK BIM Adoption (Autumn 2016): John Eynon

IN APRIL 2016 the UK Government’s mandate for all centrally procured projects to be delivered using building information modelling (BIM) Level 2 came into effect. But how is BIM adoption going in-practice across the country? We asked John Eynon in this comprehensive interview.

“It’s a very mixed picture” explains Eynon at the top of the discussion. “A number of firms are doing exemplary stuff. By stark contrast, 90% of the industry are struggling to get their heads around it and really get going on it.”


So why is that? There have certainly been plenty of BIM events, case studies and training courses in the UK over recent years and focus on the subject has at times reached fever pitch. The issue lies in reaching and influencing a significant portion of the industry. For all those activities, only a fraction of the industry have truly embraced the cultural change that BIM offers. Many organisations and project teams barely operate at Level 1.

(Watch an explanation of what the different levels of BIM maturity mean).

Above: John Eynon spoke in-depth to The B1M about the current state of BIM adoption in the UK.

The UK’s BIM mandate was first announced in the UK Government’s 2011 Construction Strategy, and considerable work has been undertaken by the Government to develop guidance documents and standards since then. These are widely recognised and have led international thinking on BIM process development.

But those documents are merely the first step in the journey. Unless that theory is translated into mass uptake across the industry, realising the ultimate value of BIM will remain a pipe dream.

Discussing the barriers in more detail, Eynon highlights that the UK has just been through “the deepest recession in living memory”, and that encouraging investment in software, training and cultural change in such a climate is never easy. “We’re also dealing with basic human nature” he explains; “I want to do what I did yesterday because it makes my life comfortable. I don’t want to change.”

Above: Eynon believes that human nature and the UK's last recession have been barriers to widespread BIM uptake in the country (image courtesy of Daniel Chapman).

But it’s not all doom and gloom. For the challenges faced, Eynon believes that current momentum in the industry puts it in a unique place to leverage change and a wholesale shift to Level 2: “It’s like we have a perfect storm now. We have the will to change and the technology to make it happen. We have a real opportunity to make this stick and to change this industry forever. That’s why I get up in the morning. That’s why I buy into this stuff.”

"We have a real opportunity to make this stick and to change this industry forever. That’s why I get up in the morning. That’s why I buy into this stuff"

“I don’t believe this is really about our industry any more in isolation” he continues. “All sorts of other industries are demanding digital information from us and we can’t give it to them, because we haven’t got it, because we don’t work like that. The reasons for change now lie much more outside our industry, because of the demands for digital information. For me this isn’t about if, it’s about when.”

On the UK Government’s recent shift to focus on BIM Level 3 and the Digital Built Britain strategy, Eynon acknowledges the void this could have created in Level 2 leadership at a critical time for the sector. He highlights the new UK BIM Alliance that has been established to co-ordinate industry activity and to achieve BIM Level 2 as ‘business-as-usual’ in the UK by 2020. If BIM Level 3 is going to work, the industry needs to be operating at Level 2 he explains.

John Eynon is an enabler, writer and speaker, having qualified as an Architect in 1981. He has worked in the public and private sectors in architectural practice, main contracting and consulting. His latest publication The Construction Manager’s BIM Handbook is available now.

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