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NATIONAL BIM SURVEY

Welcome to the eighth NBS National BIM Report. In this report, we look at the UK Government’s BIM mandate and the current levels of BIM adoption, as well as people's attitudes towards BIM.

As ever, we hope that you find the findings helpful, and enjoy reading the report. We would like to thank all those who took the time to complete the survey: without them there would be no report.

Thank you also to the professional bodies and institutes who publicised the survey to their membership. Having this cross-discipline support for our survey helps make sure that the findings are relevant to the wider industry. It is in the collaborative spirit of BIM.

The UK Government and BIM

In this section, we explore the views of the industry on the success of the UK Government’s BIM mandate.

The UK Government’s BIM mandate has been in place since April 2016. The mandate requires that all projects funded by central government be delivered with ‘fully collaborative 3D BIM’. The mandate is not legislation: it is not the law that the design and construction team use BIM.

Instead, using BIM is a contractual condition of working with the UK’s largest client, central government.

This approach ideally does three things.

Firstly, BIM will help the Government meet its strategic aims, specifically:

• 33% reduction in the initial cost of construction and the whole life cost of built assets;

• 50% reduction in the overall time, from inception to completion, for new build and refurbished assets;

• 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment; and

• 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials.

The findings below support this, showing that a clear majority think that BIM will help reduce both construction costs and the time it takes to go from inception to completion. Fewer agree that BIM will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions or reduce our trade gap. But very few disagree with any of these points.

Secondly, BIM increases the efficiency and reduces the cost of construction for central government, so the Government can build more for less.

Finally, success in government projects can be an exemplar to the private sector, leading to more rapid adoption of BIM throughout the industry.

The NBS BIM survey allows us to gauge how successful the BIM mandate has been. Four per cent told us that the mandate had been very successful, with a further 37% viewing it as ‘quite successful’. Many noted how the mandate has given the industry the push towards BIM that it needed.

‘The mandate focused everyone on where we should be going.’

‘It has brought the industry together to a common goal.’

On the other hand, 58% tell us it has either been ‘not that successful’ (44%) or ‘not at all successful’ (14%).

When we look at the graph on the right, we get a sense of why the government mandate is not universally viewed as successful. Whilst almost two thirds (63%) agree that the Government requires BIM on its projects, a very similar number (62%) feel that the Government is not enforcing this. For the first time, less than a majority (47%) feel that the Government is ‘on the right track’ with BIM. That is still a high percentage, but less than last year (51%). Just over two fifths are not clear on what they have to do to comply with the mandate.

Less than one fifth agree that ‘the construction industry is now delivering on the Government’s 2016 BIM mandate’.

BIM Usage and Awareness

'BIM is now a necessity in modern construction projects.'

Almost three quarters of respondents are now using BIM, a 12% increase on last year. This is the highest year-on-year growth since 2014. Since 2016, the year of the mandate, a further 20% of the industry has adopted BIM.

‘change takes a long time to happen.’

BIM is not yet universal: a quarter have yet to adopt BIM, and a negligible 1% are unaware of it. But we’ve come a long way over the seven years that we’ve been monitoring BIM. Among the design community, BIM has gone from a niche practice to the norm.

'Stakeholders are beginning to trust in the process.'

 

Frequency of BIM use

Last year, for the first time, we asked about the frequency of BIM use. A practice may adopt BIM, but not use it on every project. This year, we again asked those who had adopted BIM ‘Approximately what percentage of projects have you used BIM for in the last 12 months?’

The graph (right) shows the response to this. As last year, 18%, nearly one in five, use BIM on every project that they work on. A quarter (fewer than last year) use BIM on between 75% and 99%, but more than 75%, of their projects. The number of those who have adopted BIM but who use it only on a minority of projects has dropped from a third (33%) to around a quarter (27%). Increasingly, once BIM is adopted, it is used for most projects.

Future Use

As in previous years, we ask about people’s projected use of BIM: whether they will adopt or continue to use BIM in the coming years.

Having asked this question for a number of years, we can see that:

• Each year, more practices will adopt BIM.

• Nearly all practices intend to adopt BIM.

• Practices don’t always adopt BIM as quickly as they intend to.

• Once a practice starts using BIM, it doesn’t intend to go back.

So, whilst over 90% BIM adoption by this time next year looks unlikely, it does look achievable within three to five years. Indeed, extrapolating the growth that we’ve seen in BIM since 2015 suggests that we’ll reach 90% within the next three to five years.

BIM maturity

As it is a way of working (rather than a piece of software), BIM requires skilled, knowledgeable, practitioners. In turn, this requires investment in training.

'Many practices in the industry have started to provide staff with the appropriate training.'

'Upskilling is required for all members of the project team.'

The graph below shows, year on year, the confidence levels of people’s knowledge and skills in BIM. The knowledge and skills of the industry are steadily growing. Fifty eight percent are now confident (compared to 45% in 2015), and fewer than one in five (19%) are not. This is not a rapid process, but the skills and knowledge needed for the UK to make a success of BIM are coming into place.

The graph (right) shows where people turn for information about BIM. NBS is a well-used resource, as are other expert organisations. People value the help of others, whether inside their organisation or within their professional network. As we've seen before, vendors and re-sellers of software are less often turned to.

Barriers to adoption

'It hasn't been requested by the client.'

We asked those who have yet to adopt BIM what the barriers to adoption are. These barriers fall into two types: internal, such as a lack of training, expertise, time or the investment cost; and external, specifically a lack of client demand and projects being too small to require BIM.

The internal barriers are barriers of investment. Responses from those who have adopted BIM suggest that it is a worthwhile investment of time and money.

It is also likely that the amount of ‘non-BIM’ work will steadily diminish as more clients see BIM’s benefits and so require it on their projects. Client demand will accelerate as Level 2 BIM becomes further embedded and as we define and move towards Level 3. Not adopting BIM looks increasingly risky for a practice.

End Note

We still have a long way to go!!

Since we've been running the NBS National BIM report, we've suggested that the future is BIM. With the Government's BIM mandate in place, and with three quarters now using BIM, it increasingly looks like BIM is not the future, but the present. So, what is the 'next BIM'? What will next transform the design and construction industries? In one sense, the next BIM is BIM. Firstly, getting true Level 2 BIM used in more projects. Secondly (and this may be the next great transformation), describing, agreeing on and implementing Level 3 BIM.

Of course, there are other things on the horizon too: AI, generative design, offsite manufacture, 3D printing and the Internet of Things. All these items (and others) have the potential to transform the design and construction industries. At the same time, they will all rely on the fundamentals of BIM being in place: collaborative working, 3D design and rich, standardised design information. BIM Level 2 will increasingly be seen as a foundational step for the digitisation of the industry.

Of course, there are other things on the horizon too: AI, generative design, offsite manufacture, 3D printing and the Internet of Things. All these items (and others) have the potential to transform the design and construction industries. At the same time, they will all rely on the fundamentals of BIM being in place: collaborative working, 3D design and rich, standardised design information. BIM Level 2 will increasingly be seen as a foundational step for the digitisation of the industry.