BIM to be compulsory on all government projects

20 May 2011

Building Information Modelling will be made mandatory on virtually all government projects within five years, Paul Morrell, the government’s chief construction adviser, has said.

BIM requires firms to conform to a set of standard processes and 3D modelling of projects. A report by the Innovation and Growth Team last year, which recommended BIM being used on projects over £50m was dismissed by Morrell as lacking in ambition, Construction News reported.

The move to widen the net below £50m projects to catch all firms working for the government marks a radical departure from previous government thinking, Building reported.

Morrell said: “The recommendation was under ambitious to restrict it; we need to get right down to the supply chain so we are looking at a lower limit of around £5m.

“There is a huge gulf between those who get it and those who don’t and government’s ambition is to get the whole industry over the space of five years to what it is and how to use it.”

Building Design reported that Morrell claimed that architects who fail to adopt BIM risk being “Betamaxed out”.

Morrell said he envisaged introducing BIM progressively, with the bar raised at yearly intervals. In this way a certain standard will be required at year one and a higher standard the following year, until, within five years, all government procurement will be within 3D collaborative BIM.

Gary Rawlings, a partner at architecture practice Make, said that the firm’s experience with BIM had generally been “positive” and that there was little cost to adopting it.

But David Mathieson, head of public sector at Turner & Townsend, argued that applying BIM to all public sector work would not be appropriate because on some refit work the costs of surveying the building would be too high to justify using the system.

Morrell said exceptions would be made when using BIM made the project more expensive. “Within five years, all government procurement will be within 3D collaborative BIM, with specific exceptions where the cost might exceed the benefit, although I have to say I’m struggling to think of obvious examples of that,” he said.


I am working on a hotel project in China and I employed a team of BIM consultants to prepare a 3D model for me to control the M&E installation and also to ensure all headrooms are properly coordinated before work commencement. This step is found particular important as most of the mainland China contractors are weak in coordination and would like to go the easier way to run the services for cost and time saving resulting in low headroom in the end. I fully support the step to force the issue, it may be costly initially, but eventually, there will be money saved in the variation or better outcome.

W Ting, 22 May 2011

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