But modelling could save industry at least 5% on build costs

The government will need to spend about £4m on its plans to roll out Building Information Modelling (BIM) across the industry for public contracts, a key advisory group has said.

In a report to the Cabinet Office, published yesterday, the BIM Industry Working Group said it would cost about £4m for a central group to manage delivery of the strategy, which could see firms on government contracts reach an intermediate level of performance on BIM within five years.

The report said the cost did not need to be borne entirely by government as industry could provide match funding and the group implementing the strategy could also carry out money making activities.

The publication, “A report for the Government Construction Client Group Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy Paper”, also recommended that the British Standards Institute publish a standard on the processes and standards of BIM.

The report said architects would need about 15% more resources to make BIM models available to reuse by other organisations but doing so would create savings elsewhere. The paper said revised fee drawdown agreements could be needed to reflect the upfront cost.

The paper estimated that costs would increase by about 1 per cent but net savings should be at least 5% on build costs. The report quoted a 2008 government paper which extrapolated American data to estimate that the UK construction industry could save £1bn to £2.5bn a year in the construction phase if BIM was used on all major projects.

The working group’s report recommended that the government set up an implementation group, which would look for demonstration projects, and the industry group could create a funded implementation plan.

Dr John Connaughton, director of thought leadership at consultancy Davis Langdon, welcomed greater use of BIM but said training staff and getting industry to change its ways of working would be the biggest tasks in rolling it out. He said: “It is about training and also embedding a new way of working. You have to approach the design and construction processes differently, you have to share information rather than hold onto the bit you think is yours. It is a fundamental change in how people approach their discipline.” He expected that the central organisation implementing the rollout would need to spend more than £4m.

Paul Morrell, government chief construction adviser, said: “The report gave government a clear and convincing message that the adoption of BIM is not only of huge advantage to government and the public purse, but that a BIM requirement could prove influential in creating a framework for the industry to adapt new ways of working, integration and forward thinking needed to create a fit for purpose industry able be competitive both at home and overseas.”

Mark Bew, chair of the industry working group, which wrote the report, said: “If we procure our projects with clear information delivery specifications which are enabled through BIM, the public estate will benefit from the data they need to effectively manage their assets and the supply chain will have the opportunity to deliver better cheaper products through effective co-ordination of quality information which are right first time.  This is a win – win opportunity for the entire industry.”