Buildings Information Modelling: The disruptive building technology


The Concept has been successful globally, facilitating creation of models that materialized into landmark works

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a technology concept that refers to the process of generating, representing, and administering digital information of built assets to enable the planning, designing, and construction for better decision making.

As a fairly recent development in the construction industry, building information modeling enables architects, engineers, contractors, and other members of the design team to create accurate models virtually or digitally before they are put into the actual structures.

The concept contributes is attributed with numerous benefits to the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. A building information model is not only accurate but also provides detailed geometrical information including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) components required for every step of the process of construction. These details are significant for precise monitoring during the construction as it enables participants to identify and minimize or eliminate potential problems, and improve the efficiency of the process and safety of workers. In addition, building information modeling can also be used for the maintenance of a building and its hard infrastructure components after the completion of construction.

This, therefore, means that building information modeling is crucial throughout the entire life cycle of a construction project from the pre-construction and design stages through the post-construction stage. 

Leading role

IMAGINiT’s Building Solution’s Team Manager John Jansen says outlines the top four benefits of building information modeling namely 3D modeling and collision detection, a rich repository of design data, sustainable building processes which are associated with material take-offs, cost estimates, and calculations of energy performance thereby resulting into less environmental impacts; and lastly, building information modeling enable MEP firms to gain competitive advantages over their competitors.

Building information modeling is thus a process and software which are integrated to produce detailed 3D intelligent models and allow participants to make relevant changes throughout the process of delivery. By allowing various stakeholders to incorporate their roles at every step of the process, building information modeling enhances professional harmony among architects, engineers, and contractors (AIC) workers who have for a long time viewed themselves as adversaries.

To this extent, building information modeling contributes to the larger sustainability efforts by producing models that are cognizant of the safety and welfare of people, businesses, and the environment. 

The mansion on Peachtree in Atlanta, US, constructed through BIM technology

The concept of building information modeling has been successful globally as it has been used in the creation of models that materialized into landmark works. Buildings such as The Mansion on Peachtree in Atlanta, Georgia, Savannah State University in Savannah, Georgia, and Emory Psychology Building, Atlanta, GA in the US have been cited as the best success stories of BIM. Closer home, the concept is slowly picking up with building participants adopting the 3D modeling techniques.

However, according to Waimbia Waigwa, most industry professionals are familiar with only one type of software known as ArchiCAD developed by architectural and construction company Graphisoft.

Challenges to the adoption of BIM can be attributed to two main reasons namely technical and managerial. On the one hand, technical reasons relate to the requirement of a well-defined construction model that can eliminate issues to do with the interoperability of data, computable digital design data, and strategies for developing relevant BIM components. On the other hand, managerial challenges include a lack of consensus on the adoption, implementation, or use of the BIM practice.

This is partly because the practice is relatively new and professionals differ on the standard guidelines for its use. Besides, software firms are competing to produce BIM software to gullible professionals who are eager to implement the concept even without agreement on who should produce or use the models or determine the costs associated with its development or operation.

In a report published by McGraw Hill Construction which interviewed architects, engineers, contractors, and owners, 82% of the participants confirmed that BIM has positive impacts on the productivity of the companies in the industry. 79% believed that BIM enhances the attainment of project outcomes while 66% believed that adoption and implementation of BIM practices increase chances of winning projects.

This report shows that BIM minimizes wastage in terms of costs and time thus improving efficiency in the local industry where wastage is one of the most common hindrances. The benefits associated with BIM include improving designs and management, controlling costs, and enabling faster and more effective procedures and processes, enhancing the vitality of the industry assuring it of great potential for growth and increase of knowledge.

BIM also helps the local industry by encouraging construction professionals to work together in various stages of the life cycle of a project. A professionally integrated industry provides a conducive environment for honing skills and developing knowledge of younger professionals while at the same time allowing collaboration between established professionals.

Integration of roles eliminates instances of professionals treating themselves as adversaries and apportioning blames when something goes wrong along the process of the life cycle of a project. Operational efficiency and interdisciplinary coordination enable participants to tailor-make designs according to the corresponding physical reality.

This enables industry players to contribute to sustainable building and protect the scarce resources while reducing negative environmental impacts through the entire lifecycle of a building. The implementation of BIM enables various players in the local industry including planners, designers, engineers, and contractors to co-own a building thus sharing in the failures and successes of the project.


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