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The looming spectre of BIM Level 2

Many H&V News readers will be aware of the government’s 2016 deadline that will require the use of BIM to achieve Level 2 on all publicly procured construction projects. Now well into 2015, we are fast approaching the deadline.

Different voices within the building industry continue to discuss the requirement’s implications, including whether or not it is beneficial and realistic. My view is that the government has made a predominantly sensible decision.

It has given firms yet to embrace BIM the nudge they need to invest and increase efficiencies for themselves and others in the industry. The requirement for BIM to be used on public-sector work will naturally also increase its use in the private sector, as many firms undertake a mix of both public- and private-sector projects.

Estimates state that the widespread adoption of BIM has the potential to cut construction inefficiencies and save the industry and its clients over £2bn a year.

My company has been investing in BIM software and training for a considerable time. So far, it has led to an 8% efficiency increase, raised our profits and has more than recouped any investment costs incurred.

Although the Level 2 deadline is rightly pushing the industry to invest in BIM, there are some teething problems. 

Some companies, for example, are only halfheartedly adopting BIM to appear to be preparing for the deadline. They continue to use traditional processes such as CAD drawings that cannot be properly incorporated with BIM.

This hinders the benefits BIM can bring for other members of the project team and can introduce additional problems. Companies dragging their feet when it comes to adoption need to fully embrace BIM and appreciate that there is nothing to fear and they have the time get it right.

Ironically, what the government requires from BIM Level 2 remains unclear and it is still developing its own understanding of the process. As a client, the government is unlikely to risk damaging its own reputation by setting the standard too high.

It appears that the message being sent from the government to construction companies via the BIM Level 2 deadline is to start investing now, because BIM is here to stay and will only become more important in the future.

It is not asking that every construction firm develop BIM expertise overnight, but it is encouraging companies to take BIM seriously and start getting to grips with it if they have not done so already.

Some firms are understandably concerned about the expense of financing BIM. However, as the deadline approaches there are various options to bear in mind. For example, Autodesk – a key BIM software provider – now offers subscription services that lower up-front capital expenditure and ease the burden on cash flow.

Essentially the BIM Level 2 deadline should lead to an environment where all members of the project team collaborate using BIM, greatly reducing project design issues and problems on site.

Construction is a notoriously inefficient industry and we should welcome methods that can change this and benefit us all.

Barrie Sharp is BIM manager at Crofton

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