So what is BIM?
BIM is both a technology and a process. A new way of creating, managing and exchanging information about buildings.
Traditional practices producing and sharing information about buildings involved developing multiple, individually produced 2D drawings and other paper-based documents. These practices have become out-dated and problematic in our fast-paced modern environment. They are cumbersome and slow, and have inherent flaws, such as not having the right information at the right time, or human error and coordination issues between these separately produced documents, which lead to delay, variations, cost-overruns and disputes.
BIM takes a different approach. Instead of producing 2D documentation to build a building, we first build a virtual 3D building in software, where we can understand the design and make sure everything works, and from which we can automatically generate the documentation required from the building model. The virtual 3D model, or BIM, is assembled from intelligent objects that represent their real life counterparts. Each object acts as the primary placeholder for vital digital information about that component which can be shared and accessed by others. In this virtual building, people can navigate, explore, analyse and query information, to make sure they understand the design, see that everything works and fits together, to resolve issues, before they build it physically on site.
When the design is complete, traditional drawings, schedule and documents can be automatically derived from these models, but the usefulness of BIM, as an approach, is that all the information is captured in one place, and if a change is required, managed in one place, so that all documents can be kept coordinated and up to date at all times, bringing about enormous efficiencies in creating, managing and exchanging information, and avoiding the errors and duplication of effort associated with the traditional exchange of paper-based information.