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NBS’ annual BIM survey suggests that uptake of the collaborative technology has risen sharply over the past year. Phil Bevan, Residential Sector Director at AWW commented in Building feature article ‘NBS survey: The BIM that will bring us together’ that investment in BIM technology is starting to bear fruit. “I think the market for firms to do work without using BIM is in terminal decline. Those firms that don’t learn the technology will soon not be able to compete.”

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Building’s Joey Gardiner reports that while BIM awareness is near universal, actual adoption is not merely a case of whether you have or haven’t used a particular piece of software. It’s a continuum, moving all the way from creating drawings on AutoCAD at one end (so-called level 0 BIM), to the fully collaborative working of all parties on a single model that contains physical, programming, cost and management information at the other. The government requirement is for level 2 BIM which calls for different parties in the supply chain to use protocols that allow them to share data, and requires so-called “5D” information – the physical design plus construction sequencing and cost data.

While some private clients are using BIM, they are still very much the exception. Phil Bevan says while AWW works efficiently by using BIM on all projects, including work for private clients  “we’re driving the process. They [private clients] often don’t understand the benefits.”  Clearly, not all clients – including the government – are prepared to accept that they may have to pay more for the benefits that come with BIM. Many consultants and smaller contractors struggle to find the capacity and cash to invest in the technology, particularly with work picking up after a cash-draining recession. Phil commented that moving to BIM actually reduced productivity at AWW for a year to 18 months while our designers got used to the systems. “We’ve all had our staff saying, ‘This will take two weeks in [BIM software] Revit, but I could do it in three days in AutoCAD.’ And then you’ve got to buy new kit. Now we’re getting huge efficiencies but it takes a while.”.

Building’s Gardiner concluded that with workloads picking up, firms may be too busy to divert resources to the task of upgrading, and may also feel a false sense of security that they can win jobs without innovating. The reality is that small contractors and private clients will continue procuring without requiring BIM for many years to come – though this part of the market will inexorably reduce.

Free copies of the report are available from the NBS website. [/moreinfo]