What Is Building Information Modeling and How Is It Used?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One of the most important aspects of a project is the planning stage. With building information modeling (BIM), team members can visualize a building inside and out through 3D modeling. Understanding building information modeling can help you determine if its software can help you reach your project planning goals, no matter what you build. In this article, we cover what building information modeling is, how it's used in construction and what levels of BIM can be useful for your project.

Related: Understanding the Project Management Processes and Phases

What is building information modeling?

Building information modeling is the creation of a 3D model for simulation, planning, coordination and documenting purposes. Teams often use BIM for buildings or structures during the planning phase, because it allows collaboration with all team members, including stakeholders, architects, engineers, contractors, developers, sub-contractors and other construction professionals. It can also help you optimize a project past the planning phase, into construction and operation, by making everything more efficient and cost-effective.

Related: Learn About Being a Project Manager

How is building information modeling software used in construction?

Building information modeling software is used to document and visualize the designs behind infrastructure. Project managers use BIM to model as many details as possible in a structure so that everyone can clearly understand it. With BIM models, ideas for a structure can undergo experimentation and general discussion. Building information modeling software is used to track the life cycle of a project, even through renovations.The process of BIM modeling is as follows:

Planning stage

During this phase, project planners who use the BIM software conceptualize the models for the building project. This means taking measurements to capture real data from existing structures in order to generate models for the BIM project.

Designing stage

Next, project participants use the BIM software to construct the model using the data gathered during the planning phase. They use BIM logistics to construct a model structure and plan a complete design that is, at this stage, without a rendered model or data.

Building stage

After designing the building plan, they construct models and give data specifications for each BIM object used. This is when they make the BIM representable to other members of the project, such as stakeholders or project leaders. They add finishing touches as they finally make the BIM ready for use and further editing.

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What are the elements of BIM?

To function effectively, BIM requires the successful integration of the following five elements:

  • Information: BIM includes both model and document information. Models are digital data 3D representations of an object that are stored in file format. Documents are the digital data 2D papers, drawings, images and videos.

  • Processes: This is the specific schedule of work activities from start to finish, with a clear identification of project activities.

  • Policies: These are the guidelines and rules that guide any project decision-making.

  • Technologies: BIM includes a variety of software and hardware tools that are used to manage each stage.

  • People: The professionals involved in the project are vital to its success. Important roles in BIM may include a BIM manager, BIM consultant and BIM technologist.

Functions of a BIM object

The functions of a BIM object include:

  • Building: BIM objects store data from the entire model and reflect it into elements of a building. For example, if a manager chooses steel key bolts, the BIM software updates the model to reflect this choice.

  • Storing: All BIM objects contain information that's critical for the building process. By using the stored data for BIM objects, professionals can collaborate on planning and building successfully.

  • Updating: If any element of the BIM object changes, the BIM software can update that change to the BIM object's data, allowing for project stakeholders to stay up-to-date on the BIM's status.

  • Syncing: Project managers collect and share BIM information through a common data environment, which allows others access to the information they need to understand the model. They can later refer to any set point for comparison and building improvement.

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Business information modeling levels

As you rise through the six levels of business information modeling, the required degree of expertise, collaboration, and sharing of information increases accordingly. Each level is as follows:

BIM level zero

BIM level zero means there is no collaboration with different members of the team, or that only paper drawings or digital printing is being used. There is no model being shared among team members, regardless of whether one actually exists. Project managers use this level for projects that don't involve BIM usage in the contract, and for the moment, don't intend to.

BIM level one

Under BIM level one, project managers may use 3D modeling for conceptual work. However, any information that's communicated to other departments or team members is entirely in 2D. This means that documentation and production information are all done in 2D drawings or digitalized printouts. In this format of collaboration, the stakeholders aren't very involved, and each manages their own data concerning the project.

BIM level two

In BIM level two, all team members collaborate using BIM software and 3D models. This increased collaboration involves more cooperative data, however at this stage, all team members may not always use the same model.Stakeholders share information with team members through a common file formatting system. At this level, collaboration increases and projects gain efficiency.

BIM level three

In BIM level three, all team members use BIM software and 3D models to collaborate, and everyone now uses the same model when collaborating. This model exists in a central place in the system where it's accessible for anyone. The reasons some firms use level three BIM rather than level two BIM are the following:

  • Simplified communication process

  • Definitive 3D modeling collaboration through the use of one model

  • Capability of numerous team collaborations

  • Automatic updates to data

BIM level four

BIM level four introduces scheduling data to the attributes of level three. With this, a team may also assign an estimated date of completion to any part of the project. This allows for more efficient planning and collaboration among a team. It also provides the ability to project expectation dates easily.

BIM level five

At level five, budget-related additions become part of the collaboration effort. Project members can measure estimated costs and begin budget analysis and tracking. By utilizing level five BIM, project managers have real-time cost visualization tools and a means of simplified cost analysis.

BIM level six

BIM level six allows project members to estimate how much a building may consume in energy, in order to weigh future operational costs against current developmental costs. A level 6 BIM can accurately predict the consumption power of their project and encourage stakeholders to make informed decisions about building efficient and sustainable structures.

Some reasons that teams use level four, five and six BIM are:

  • Efficient planning and scheduling

  • Accurate schedules and deadlines

  • Cost visualization and budgeting

  • Simplified cost analysis

  • Reduced energy consumption plan

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