September 10, 2022

Introduction to BIM

Adnaan Farook
Content Strategist

What's in this post?


An architect working on BIM

There was a time before technology when the construction industry used pencils, papers, and big tables, to create complex drawings. It was a long and tiring process that required much manual labor and was highly inefficient. However, the world has changed since, and leading the way to make construction drawings better is ‘Building Information Modelling,’ or BIM.

In this blog, we will discuss what BIM is, how it differs from a simple 3D model, its benefits, and some popular BIM tools.

What is BIM?

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, has been part of the industry for a while now. According to the industry giant Autodesk, BIM  is “the holistic process of creating and managing information for a built asset.” To be fair, that pretty much sums it up.

BIM is an intelligent, model-based process that allows multiple stakeholders, such as architects, engineers, developers, consultants, and even manufacturers, to collaborate and build better buildings faster.

With BIM, designers create a digital representation of a built asset that contains data associated with its physical and functional characteristics. BIM improves collaboration and efficiency and gives stakeholders deeper insight into the project. 

What is a BIM Model?

Many in the industry are unaware of how BIM differs from other 3D models. In 3D models created using Sketchup or Rhinoceros, objects are merely a 3D mesh or surface. The software cannot classify or differentiate between objects—for example, a door vs. a window. Even though they are popular among Architects & Designers, these products are not built for the construction Industry. 

BIM objects are more than just geometry. They are data containers that share relationships with other elements in a model. By default, objects are classified and come baked with data. For example, it can understand how a bearing wall would differ from a non-bearing wall or calculate how much material is required to construct one. A brick wall is not just visually; it also contains many relevant data - cost, materials, structural properties, physical parameters, or even thermal performance. BIM tools are built for building design and construction, which is why this is possible.

The differences do not end here, as BIM helps solve other construction problems. In traditional processes, Architects and consultants have to coordinate and edit every individual drawing (plan, sections, elevations, and 3D), increasing the scope for errors. A small change to a single room could be much manual work.

BIM allows stakeholders to visualize projects better because all functions come together in one model. Using a BIM tool, edits made on any view or drawing will automatically be reflected in every other view, increasing efficiency. Some BIM tools even allow users to prepare cost estimations or analyze spending, helping them track project costs. 

In short, BIM allows stakeholders to achieve what they have always wanted - construction completed on time & within budget. It lays the foundation for a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

Future of BIM

Technology is evolving, with machines becoming more portable, affordable, and powerful. Buildings are becoming more complex, with architects pushing the boundaries of creativity and engineering. BIM will continue to play an essential role in the future of construction because the benefits are pretty apparent.

At Snaptrude, we are always thinking about the future of BIM. Before we started building the platform, we noticed how existing BIM tools are expensive and hardware intensive. They are complex to install and maintain, difficult to master & not very user-friendly. So, we began building Snaptrude on the cloud. It is easier to learn, requires basic hardware to run, and supports real-time collaboration. In some ways, young companies like Snaptrude have already started rethinking BIM for the next generation. 

Another key area is sustainability. Current BIM tools are rudimentary when it comes to sustainability. However, software like Cove Tool is already creating a buzz in the Industry with advanced energy analysis capabilities. With the widespread adoption of these tools, buildings will be sustainable and built efficiently. 

Furthermore, we have interoperability. Today, software companies are taking interoperability seriously because BIM software is not the most effective unless it is interoperable with other tools in an ecosystem. Organizations such as buildingSMART are laying the groundwork for interoperability with universal file formats like IFC. At Snaptrude, we are paving the way for interoperability by seamlessly integrating models with popular tools like Revit, which is otherwise impossible.

The industry has understood that buildings cannot be built with teams working in isolation. The most effective way is to work together, and BIM enables this. Construction greatly contributes to environmental problems, but BIM can help mitigate this while improving efficiency. In short, the nature and scope of BIM will only grow, but the concept is here to stay.