Question Andy Construction & Engineering

Building Information Modelling in the UK Construction Industry

In a recent interview for the New Civil Engineer, the new president of the Institution of Civil Engineers stated that digital engineering is the future of construction in the UK. Describe one form of digital technology that could influence this digital future.

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Answer Expert #10136

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is one digital technology that could strongly influence the digital future of the construction industry. BIM is a three-dimensional (3-d) model which promotes collaborative working with all project stakeholders using a shared database. While the utopian idea for BIM is a parametric model developed through integrated working of all designers and contractors on a project, the reality is that the industry is not yet that sophisticated. That said there are different levels of BIM capability and as this technology develops, it is feasible that a totally integrated model will become commonplace in the industry. The lowest technological level is 0 which essentially equates to AutoCad systems and Level 1 equates to 3-d AutoCAD. Level 2 BIM is essentially a database information management system which prescribes document formats for digital object based models. The benefit of this level of BIM is that it facilitates information sharing in a standardised manner thus reducing errors and delays across the design-design interface and the design -construction interface. At this level of the technology, all parties typically use different software which require rework to ensure mutual compatibility (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors 2015). Level 3 BIM is more sophisticated as all parties work on the same model using a shared database (Construction Industry Council 2013). Succar et al. (2012) suggest that this model can be used from the concept design stage, through construction and the operation of the completed structure, promoting cost, time and energy efficiencies over the life of the project. Ding et al. (2014) suggest that the technology is evolving to include time in Level 4 BIM and costs in Level 5 BIM, indicating a range of other possibilities for the technology including carbon emissions, safety and quality variables.


Ding, L., Zhou, Y. and Akinci, B., 2014. Building Information Modeling (BIM) application framework: The process of expanding from 3D to computable ND. Automation in construction, 46, pp.82-93.
Hansford, M., 2016. Digital future: Tim Broyd ICE President. [online]. Available at [accessed 13th October 2016].
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 2015. Building Information Modelling [online]. Available at [accessed 13th October 2016].
Succar, B., Sher, W. and Williams, A., 2012. Measuring BIM performance: Five metrics. Architectural Engineering and Design Management, 8, pp.120-142.