Government Construction and BIM Compliance


Government construction contracts have changed thanks to new BIM Compliance requirements. Building Information Models (BIM) are shared information hubs that exist to hold documents about a building’s infrastructure during its lifecycle (the time it is in use). Here Morgan Sindall Professional Services Principal Architect and BIM Consultant Trevor Strahan tells BiP reporter Julie Shennan how BIM is good for both public sector suppliers and buyers.

The UK Government has announced new requirements for collaborative, 3D Building Information Models – with electronic project and asset information – on all of its infrastructure projects. This requirement is referred to as BIM Level 2.


What it means for suppliers

This affects large numbers of suppliers, because there is no minimum value for a BIM-enabled project. The sweeping nature of this regulation means that businesses of all sizes will need BIM Level 2 to bid on government construction contracts or to enter the public sector construction supply chain.


How it works

Under BIM Level 2 compliance all parties use their own 3D computer aided design (CAD) models, before sharing files relating to the overall project. Design information is shared through a common file format, which enables any organisation to amalgamate other parties’ data with its own. Likewise, CAD software used at BIM Level 2 is exported to a common file format.

Trevor Strahan said: “Suppliers should consider data language and compatibility with the client’s existing systems and databases, if appropriate. The chosen format for delivery of BIM asset data in the 2016 government mandate is COBie (Construction Operation Building Information Exchange), which in essence is a very detailed spreadsheet, which can be outputted from BIM systems and is accessible for users without BIM software.

“Ensuring this information is accurate, relevant and within a scope understood by all stakeholders from the beginning is key to ensuring the success of BIM in any project.”


How to master it

Strahan said suppliers could target their BIM to meet the buyer’s needs through smart use of Employer’s Information Requirements (EIRs).

He explained: “When commissioning designers and engineers to start work on a building, part of the new mandate is that clients issue EIRs. EIRs dictate what information should be delivered, as well as the standards and processes to be adopted by the project team.”

The project team, Strahan said, should work with its buyers to understand what BIM capabilities are likely to be useful to their project. This saves the design team time and money.

Strahan clarified: “Not only can the completion of a full COBie spreadsheet for all modeling objects be unrealistic and unmanageable during the design phase, but this data will need to be updated and maintained by the client post occupation.

“A rural primary school that will only ever require one or two caretakers to maintain the building is not going to need thousands of rows of data, nor will they be used.”

Once the buyer’s needs have been outlined, the supplier can optimise the BIM efficiency. Strahan explained that this involves testing the data throughout the process.

“Testing is important to ensure the structure of the data works and that coding has been correctly applied. All model authors need to label items within the building in the same way; we’ve seen examples where different parties label even simple details such as ‘level one’ and ‘first floor’ differently, resulting in duplicated and unstructured COBie data.”


Benefits of BIM

However, if properly maintained, Strahan explained BIM models do save resources.

He said: “Level 2 BIM data and models need to be managed; they don’t just happen by chance. But they are achievable and with the correct expertise and processes can deliver value.”

Strahan cited airport projects as prime sites for BIM.

He detailed: “Airports and other large transport hubs are areas where BIM is extremely useful. This is because airport retailers, eateries and security services all share one overall a structure that is regularly updated, extended and refurbished. Accessible and reliable information pertaining to exactly where building systems are situated is therefore vital. The time and cost in designers’ fees in working out and second-guessing building systems and geometry is a perfect example of how BIM will save money when properly created and maintained.”


What it means for suppliers

Some 80% of a building’s lifecycle cost is in facilities management and energy consumption, highlighting how much room there is to reduce those costs through accurate data via BIM.

Strahan concluded: “BIM will ensure that better design and construction decisions are made, not just with regard to cost and building best practice, but also health and safety risks that can be reduced through visualising access and maintenance.”


Preparation is key

As the construction industry evolves, time is of the essence when it comes to winning public sector contracts. Finding relevant opportunities quickly means you’ll have more time to invest in the tendering process and meeting essential requirements like BIM.

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