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What is a "BIM Model"?

Fred Mills explains what a BIM model is – and what it is not – in this easily digestible 3 minute video! “Whatever your role in the construction industry, you’ve probably heard people talking about BIM models” he acknowledges. “The acronym BIM stands for Building Information Modelling. That’s a process and a way of working, not a physical object or an entity”.

Within a building information modelling process, project teams contribute information and data about a proposed building or structure in a shared digital space known as a Common Data Environment (CDE). This enables all parties to access it to develop and co-ordinate their respective contributions. You can learn more about CDEs in this 3 minute video.

"It's a process and a way of working, not a physical object or entity"

The digital information contributed could include specifications, schedules, performance requirements, programmes, cost plans and drawings. Those drawings are created in 3D by different members of the project team in private ‘work-in-progress’ areas. They are then put together into one 3D model to check that they co-ordinate, before being shared with the wider project team.

The non-graphical information (specifications, schedules etc) is linked to the graphical 3D model. When you explore and click on different parts of the 3D representation, you’ll be able to access the information about it. Clicking on a light for example might give you information on its manufacturer, lead-time, cost, performance level and when it will need replacing. The same approach can work vice versa, where clicking an item in the non-graphical information will take you to its location in the 3D representation.


The complete suite of documents is known as a data set or information model. When you hear people say ‘BIM model’ this is what they mean, ‘a building information model’. The graphical parts, when not linked or supported by data in a CDE are 3D models.

The key difference with a building information modelling approach – as opposed to traditional ways of working – is that information is clearly structured and easier to find in one place. “That enables project teams to deliver higher quality buildings, more efficiently and end users to really understand how their built assets are performing” explains Fred. “They can then improve that performance to directly impact business outcomes and the wider social outcomes of the world we all live in”

He concludes with a simple call to action: “If you know someone who’s still doing it the old way… share this video with them”.

This video was kindly sponsored by 4Projects. Find out more about them here.

You can learn more about building information modelling in PAS 1192-2, which is available as a free download from the British Standards Institution here: This video contains an extract of PAS 1192-2: 2013, © 2013 The British Standards Institution, © 2013 Mervyn Richards OBE and © 2013 Mark Bew MBE. 

Model imagery courtesy of InteliBuild

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