Tuesday 16 October 2012

NLA NBS BIM Conference - The key questions

The write up from our NLA/NBS BIM Conference is now online:
One of the highlights of the day - Ben Marston from Jestico+Whiles
One interesting aspect of the conference was the interactive voting at the end. These questions were pulled together during the event based on the Q&A sessions throughout the morning. Over 200 delegates responded, mostly architects.
A little less than 40% now using it on live projects
Half of the delegates say clients should be driving BIM - less than 10% say contractors, but...
...more than half of the delegates think contractors will drive BIM - less than 5% say clients
The reasons that need to be removed if is to accelerate further
A big consensus that BIM does not restrict design


  1. Interesting that the audience saw "contractactors" as main driver of BIM. I guess this suggests designers still see benefit of BIM in build phase rather than design phase. Unless I am reading these stats wrongly?

    What's your view?

  2. Rob,

    It's hard to pre-guess why people answered as they did. But my take on it is that designers are feeling squeezed on fees and are being asked to invest in training, software and content creation. They feel that the main benefit currently is going to contractors who are being able to sequence from the designers' models, reduce clashes on site and purchase more efficiently.

    Clients *should* be the ones that eventually benefit the most. But unless the information they receive is consistent and flows from brief to FM (and then back to brief) the benefit will be seen by designers/contractor and the client will get a 3D model that tells them what the building looks like. This 3D model will sit on a USB drive and get dusty.

    Whether this is true or not I am not sure. But that was my take on the feeling from the floor.


  3. Great points Stephen. I concur with your thoughts on clients being the ones who benefit most. As long as they understand what BIM could actually deliver long term for their building and its occupants.

    Perhaps the problem is that many still refer to BIM as a "model" which at a base level I guess suggests design rather than ongoing managemment of a building or construction. Maybe we should be proposing a change from Building Information Modeling to Building Information Management. After all the benefits of utlising data and information to support workflow in design, construction, occupation and onwards, stretch way beyond a "model" in the traditional design sense. Or is that too fluffy a concept?

    1. In terms of who benefits most at the moment, so far my experience is that it is hands down the contractor. We (architects) are taking all the risks / hit on the switch over to Revit (or your preferred BIM software) but the contractors are cherry picking what suits them.

      M&E consultant reports that its too much hassle to use Revit / BIM / 3D process..? Dont worry, you guys carry on as you have then, and we will make the architect incorporate your dumb 2D linework into their models.. Contractor faced with appointing a subby / consultant earlier in the process than usual.? Ok, lets skip that process as well, we dont work like that yet..

      Contractor to Architect: what do you mean you haven't clash detected the building yet..? Learning curve.? I thought this BIM would save us money..!!

  4. Clients and Contractors will benefit more from BIM, but I am still unconvinced of it's benefits. The biggest problems with the construction process are poor management, lack of trust, overly complex contracts and lack of communication. BIM can help to eliminate design errors, but the additional time taken to model buildings could just as easily be spent checking drawings properly.

    BIM has it's own problems to overcome. At this point in time I don't think any of the software is especially good. It seems Revit is becoming the industry standard... a terrible piece of software. Workflows are overly complex, by the time you input the construction information, you could have just as easily produced the documents manually.

    I believe BIM is a way of glossing over some of the problems with construction management processes. We need to look more deeply at the way Architects and construction professionals are trained. Architects should be master builders, not artists or social commentators.

  5. Martin - Your first para - A voice of sanity on the relentless rush towards BIM. I could not agree more (for now and the immediate future, but never say never).


  6. I'd quite like to know what NBS is going to charge users, we already have large costs for NBS Plus(which is still a mystery to me, does anyone actually use it???) and as a company that has a large and unique range of products I can see that we will be forced to 'invest' or not be involved in BIM. I can make models for all of our products in Sketchup in very quick time, but Revit costs an absolute fortune and appears to be unloved and flawed.

  7. Matt,

    In terms of NBS Plus - it is definitely used and valued. Over 5,000 practices subscribe to NBS specification products and of these 97 are from the AJ100 architect list. One "specification-click" on a large project can result in a contract that pays for the NBS Plus subscription for the year.

    Should a manufacturer get involved in BIM now?

    One side of the argument is "no" as the majority of the industry are not using BIM yet.

    The other side of argument is "yes" as the main contractors are using BIM and 60% of construction projects by value are contractor-led. If a manufacturer can be ahead of the curve and work their way into contractor's office master BIM libraries then it could be a fantastic investment.

    As part of the nationalBIMlibrary.com service we will take your technical details and create Revit, Bentley, ArchiCAD, Vectorworks objects for you based on international IFC property-sets and then maintain these.

    I'm at the RIBA Insight consultancy days in Manchester and London. If you are attending - please come over and say hello.


  8. but at what cost? we have 30 products...

    I will be at the nbsplus 'training' day in November, so will learn more about how to use my nbsplus entries properly

  9. Matt,

    We can do a BIM assessment for your products - please email me at stephen.hamil[at]thenbs.com - I'll put you in touch with our tech team.

    Hopefully the NBS Plus day will be a good one.