Contractors and clients embrace technology but RICS says QSs continue to reject it

Contractor Laing O’Rourke has mandated the use of building information modelling on all its new projects, after its use was “key” to it winning the hotly contested race to build London’s Cheesegrater tower.

The UK’s largest private contractor adopted a new BIM strategy last month after bagging the £300m tower job.

It also comes as exclusive research by the RICS showed that only one in 10 QSs were actively considering adopting the system despite the growing evidence of client and contractor uptake of the technology.

James Eaton, head of cost management at Laing O’Rourke and head of BIM for the contractor, said private sector demand for BIM was increasing, challenging the conventional wisdom that the public sector will drive adoption of the system.

Eaton said that Laing O’Rourke’s advanced use of BIM had helped the contractor edge out Skanska - which is also using BIM - in the final round of the tender for the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners-designed Leadenhall building run by joint developers British Land and Oxford Properties.

Laing O’Rourke was named main contractor on the 47-storey City scheme, known as the Cheesegrater (pictured), in July.

Eaton said: “Our 3D BIM model allowed us to explain how we are going to build the project. The developers said we demonstrated a discipline on the process that they’d never seen before.”

He added that BIM had allowed the firm to get involved in other projects at an earlier stage and had also prompted the company to invest more in its facilities management arm.

The RICS, which conducted the survey into the use of BIM, called on the profession to “get its act together” and adopt the system.

The survey also found only one in 10 QSs were using BIM regularly, while less than a third had had some limited engagement with the system.

BIM requires firms to conform to a set of standard processes and 3D modelling of projects, and is designed to encourage greater collaboration on projects.

Leading private client Great Portland Estates told Building it was actively promoting BIM on three quarters of its projects and added that use of the system gave bidders a “competitive edge”.

The government announced in May that it is making BIM mandatory on all government projects within five years.

Responding to the RICS’ BIM survey, Paul Morrell, the government’s chief construction adviser, warned QSs they were “hazarding” their businesses by not adopting BIM.