Read the transcript of the Q&A with our BIM Doctor

The transcript of the Q&A session with our BIM expert, Sarah Davidson, Gleeds’ head of research and development, that took place between 1-2pm on 11 June, is now available

As the government’s 2016 deadline for adopting BIM level two fast approaches, many professionals are getting to grips with using BIM on projects. For all the government’s efforts to make it simple to use and easy to follow, BIM remains over-laden with jargon and complication. Many people simply want some practical advice.

With this in mind, we invited BIM expert and Gleeds’ head of research and development Sarah Davidson to be our ‘BIM doctor’ for an hour. Read the full transcript below:

Sarah DavidsonBIM Doctor: Sarah Davidson, head of research and development, Gleeds

Sarah is a Director at Gleeds, heading up their Research & Development department and leading a number of programmes supporting information management and developing service delivery.

She has in excess of 20 years’ project experience in the UK working with a variety of clients on many different build projects in both quantity surveying and project management roles. Latterly her work has focussed on matters surrounding inflation, information modelling and value management both in the UK and overseas.

Sarah’s interest in BIM is primarily concerned with cultural change for BIM, the requirement for a robust BIM framework and the potential to improve efficiency and performance through software optimisation.

Her work leading BIM development within Gleeds has led to appointment by the UK’s Construction Industry Council to be the chair for the East Midlands Regional BIM Hub. Sarah works closely with the Government’s BIM Task Group, raising awareness, capacity and capability for BIM. She is also one of the first RICS Certified BIM Managers in the UK.

Sarah is working with a number of clients to develop their BIM framework and to support their projects including East Sussex County Council and Bournemouth University.

Live Q&A with our BIM Doctor - Wednesday June 11, 2014

1:00 - Sarah Davidson:
Welcome to Building’s BIM Doctor surgery – my name is Sarah Davidson and I’m here to help. I work at Gleeds leading BIM within the business and am involved in a number of live projects. I also lead the East Midland’s BIM Hub for the CIC, I do a lot of work with the RICS and am an RICS Certified BIM Manager. Please let me have your queries, thoughts and observations about BIM – I’ll try and deal with the questions as they come but please be patient…

1:05 - Comment From Bill Haughton
Appreciate the opportunity to join as I am in the very early stages of understanding BIM as a fixings supplier to the industry. Can you point me firstly to the best sources of info?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
PAS 1192-2:2013 is great for establishing the principles of BIM. You should be able to find this through BSI free of charge. As a fixings supplier the thing to think about is what information about your product is important in the design, construction and operation of an asset. It may be that it's a case of presenting information about your fixings in a way that makes the information easy to transfer and use...

1:09 - Comment From Andy
I've seen a lot of press about COBIE, but the requirements seem onerous. Do clients really require this? Thanks

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
COBie is a means of getting information from the project information model (that's all the information you to design, then construct and asset) into the asset information model (the information you need to operate and manage the asset). I guess it depends on who the client is but ultimately someone will need to operate and manage the asset whether your client is a developer, tenant etc. On this basis I would say that COBie is a flexible tool, that's freely available to support this. It should also provide for transfer of data into CAFM (computer aided FM) systems. I would expect that as technology and knowledge develops COBie will similarly develop as will other tools that seek to do the same thing

1:12 - Comment From Nick Jackson
How would you like to see BIM , or its offspring, developing over the next 10 years, and what might prevent it happening

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
A great question! Personally I would like to get to the point where we understand how an asset is going to go together, what it's going to look like, how it's going to perform, when it's going to be ready and how much it's going to cost (to build and run) just like we can when we purchase a car. We should be able to get to this. What will prevent it happening? Possibly, fear of the unknown, cultural barriers, failure to communicate effectively...

1:22 - Comment From Guest
Do you think BIM is becoming more widely accepted for refurbishment projects?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
We are seeing increasing requirements to support refurbishment projects with BIM and I think it will become more widely accepted. It's important to understand how all information is going to be managed and to represent it in the right format that will allow its transition and re-use without generating risk. On this basis BIM can help all project types

1:25 - Comment From Jamie Murray
Customers, especially in the public sector are pushing the social value agenda and often making it a contract requirement to use a local SME based supply chain. Is it realistic to expect these small firms to invest in understanding BIM when their rates continue to be squeezed? Most I speak to just aren't interested.

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
The investment in understanding and that required to deliver may be different. The starting point for SMEs (and customers!) is to understand the principles of BIM (PAS1192-2). They may find that they require a change in the way they work and provide there information as opposed to big investment in technology. Having said that the idea of technology is to make us better and more efficient in what we do. The benefits should look to outweigh the investment...

1:28 - Comment From Mike Brooks
Hi Sarah thanks for presenting this helpful service. We too are embarking/evaluating BIM. We manufacture and supply lighting controls for building spaces.We are looking at overseas markets and would like your opinion on how BIM either adapts or standardises in other regions globally. Are there any 'potholes'to look out for ahead? thanks.

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
When you're looking at overseas markets look at their procurement models and things like copyright and intellectual property. Some of the UK principles should in theory adapt but might be scuppered by procurement. Also, if you're considering creating libraries for your product make sure you understand your IP

1:30 - Comment From Nigel
Hi Sarah, I read in Building recently that the government might be scrapping the BIM Task Group. I'm a bit worried about this. Do you think BIM is ready to stand alone?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
Interesting! Many of the public sector frameworks require a degree of BIM capability/expertise plus a commitment to support training/development of project teams. To get on these then you have to be able to support BIM. I think BIM is now ready but a key thing for me is leadership for BIM. It's essential that clients understand how to drive BIM. It might happen without the client drive, but benefits might not be optimised

1:35 - Comment From JACKY MOSS
Hello there - with regard to Ofqual and their extraordinary plans to scrap engineering GSCE/A levels by 2017, how do you feel this would impact on the future study and development of BIM.. surely a grounding in the physical, the nuts and bolts, the actual 'doing' remains essential to the understanding of the subject, along with the ability to think, plan and develop?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
It is the younger generation that can really bring the construction industry into the 21st century so I'm keen that the industry is effectively supported by education. It is essential that members of teams understand who does what, how construction fits together etc. also, really important that people can communicate effectively. I would like to see more in schools and colleges around the subjects that support construction, not less...

1:37 - Comment From James Ward
Also with regard to refurbishment - do you think the client is taking ownership of the model earlier and supplying this to consultants and contractors to update or is it still a tendency to expect the contractor and the consultant team to create and supply the model?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
Might depend on what you mean by 'model' do you mean a model created from point cloud survey data of the existing building

1:39 - Comment From Guest
Customers, especially in the public sector, are pushing the social value agenda and the use of a local SME based supply chain. Can we realistically expect such small firms to invest in BIM when their rates are stile

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
If we remember that BIM is not just about the generation of object based models but also about the management of information then I think SMEs can be persuaded to support BIM. A lot of what BIM is about can be achieved without major investment. Any investment should ultimately offer a return to the SME...

1:44 - Comment From Derek Lawrence
Hi Sarah. What experience do you have of creating BIMs for existing buildings? What would you suggest is the best workflow for capturing the info in the first place.

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
I would suggest the starting point is to consider the life of the building, what the long term plans are for it and whether or not it sits within a portfolio. Once you know this you can determine how and what data you collect about its physical characteristics. If you want to create a digital object based model then a point cloud survey may be required but you'll need to ensure that the model generated from this captures more than just object geometry. You may need to supplement these surveys with further investigation to establish structural characteristics, which may impact on future works to the building.

1:50 - Comment From Tiffany Schmidtchen
Have you experience on the legal side, in particular, how is BIM compliance dealt with in an appointment as I don't think it is yet a statutory requirement in the UK although I believe the public sector is required to adopt this approach. Also, what is the market position on the level of BIM being used as I understand it is difficult to provide Level 4 because of software limitations? Finally thank you for this Q&A, very interesting.

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
The CIC have published the BIM protocol which is intended to sit in all contracts/appointments of organisations creating or working with BIMs. The JCT and NEC have also captured BIM through their contracts. However, the protocol does have to be expressly captured, it can't just be appended to a contract. In terms of requirements on the public sector, the requirement is for projects coming out of central government. Funding sources may therefore impact on whether or not BIM is mandatory for a project in 2016. We are currently working towards Level 2 BIM. There is reference to 4D and this tends to be around programming/simulation of works. There is software out there that will support 4D (I'm not supporting any particular!) but a big part of whether or not this is successful will be driven by the level of detail, accuracy and structure of data contained in models in the first place

1:53 - Comment From Guest
Do you think universities and/or other training providers could be doing more to help improve the culture of the industry or improve collaboration between disciplines?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
There is room for improvement! The earlier collaboration is grasped the better, so setting up new entrants to the industry to work with others, in teams, to understand how their role fits with others etc. is essential. It may be that course structures and content are equally driven by the professional bodies accrediting courses...

1:57 - Comment From James Ward
Re technology do you not think that some of the bigger software companies have looked to squeeze the market by taking out the smaller and cheaper competition? I have seen shareware versions and open source tools, which could quite easily manage the COBiE data side of things but how widely accepted are they?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
What we're finding with technology is that it is becoming more flexible and this to me is key. Having said that it depends what you want to do with it. There is lots of freely available software, that might be limited in what it can do, but equally might be good enough for requirements. I wouldn't necessarily be driven to go with a particular software just because of the size of vendor, or its market share. I would go with what works for me. It is important that whatever you don't you don't restrict what you can do or what others can do with the data you choose to release

2:00 - Comment From Chris
What would your advice be to manufacturers right now? What actions should they be taking?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
Starting point: understand all the principles of BIM (PAS 1192-2/3:2013/14), look at what it is you're manufacturing, think about how information about that product is best (and accurately) communicated, think how can your BIM approach help sales of your product. You could look at creating model objects of you product, creating libraries of products etc. Equally it might be about holding data about your project that can be easily imported into COBie

2:03 - Comment From Mike
Hi Sarah. Do you know of any large, deep retrofit projects where BIM has been used successfully?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
I'm not working on any...however, if you're wanting evidence around how BIM might help it might be worth reflecting on the risk generated through the way we currently (pre-BIM) do things and how that can manifest itself in time and cost increases. BIM principles make you think about decision points and information required to support these which should be helpful for any project

2:08 - Comment From Dave
Where is the best place to find out information about how BIM will affect the fenestration industry, and what obstacles will manufactures need to overcome to make best use of BIM??

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
Would suggest the starting point is to understand the BIM principles and then to work out how they apply to particular industries. in terms of obstacles for manufacturers think about what information you need from designers/contractors, think about what you'll do with it and also how your information might make their life easier. Also, timing is important. Getting manufacturing input at the right stage in the design/construction process can make a big difference to a project.

2:11 - Comment From James Ward
Yes - the base building model. My experience from a year or so ago was that BIM was liked but the onus to supply a tender this way fell to the contractor and their team to create the model and supply this to the client - which could result in 4 or 5 different models being created - which is expensive and wasteful.

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
I see...ideally BIM principles need to be adopted on day 1 - leaving it until the project is tendered restricts the opportunity and can impact on cost. I'm seeing more clients requiring their consultants to generate the base model so that when the contractor is tendering they are working on the 'same' scheme. I'm hoping things have moved on from a year ago but education for clients and design teams is essential to avoid what you have experienced

2:16 - Comment From James Ward
Re investment - can't the consultants help by supplying tender/project info in formats that SMEs can use? Info could be broken down into Microsoft Office files that could then be uploaded into the combined project interface. On that basis do you not think BIM should be managed via online portals where the software is in the cloud so you don't need that level of investment - that would truly open the market to all.

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
One of the key BIM principles is that information is held in a common data environment so that there is that one project interface you mention. Consultants do need to provide information in a way that supports its transition. Achieving this will be down to understanding what the supply chain needs and how they work. The requirement to provide model data in open file format partially deals with this. Use of standards such as NRM do allow for consultants to provide more work package breakdowns but there may well still be a disconnect.

2:21 - Comment From Nick Nisbet
Does level 4 mean anyting? Does BIM level 2 - federated BIM as the current UK Gov ambition - have anything to do with construction time-lining?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
I'm still working towards level 2 and have no idea what level 3 looks like. But I'm looking forward to finding out! If the government is wanting to drive greater certainty around cost, improve value for money, generate energy efficient assets, then creating predictability by simulating processes, modelling costs, carbon etc. should help achieve this. Also makes for better decision making (if the base information and assumptions are correct)...

2:22 - Comment From Chris
Who should manufacturers speak to to get advice?

Reply from Sarah Davidson:
I would suggest getting in touch with your local CIC BIM Hub. These operate throughout the UK and you may find the right contact here.

2:23 - Sarah Davidson:
Thanks everyone for your interesting questions - I'm signing out now. I hope this session has been helpful, please look out for future Building BIM surgeries...

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