The BIM Explainer

Hello BIMfans,
Not long ago I read Randall Monroe’s Book ‘Thing Explainer’. For years have read his comic strip XKCD, and loved the premise of this book. It was interesting as it explained lots of different things only using the one thousand most common words in the English language. So inspired by this book I have done the same by writing this piece about Building Information Modelling (BIM); using this guide to help.

Damn you Hat Guy, do you just want to watch the world burn?

The BIM Explainer

When we build, things can go wrong.  Parts of a build may be the wrong size, put in the wrong place, or even just use the wrong part; this has been happening around the World for years and years.  This is because when we build we only do enough work to help us, but not always enough to help others do their work too.  So when others try to use our work it might seem be confusing, have bits missing, or just be wrong.

Our leaders saw this problem and wanted to help.  They wrote papers and told us we were not building as well as we could saying that we fought too much; but we didn’t listen.  Later, our leaders told us we could build better by working together, again we didn’t listen.  In 2009, when the banks broke people didn’t have the money to build, so our leaders told us again that we needed to build better, but yet again we didn’t listen.  As we never listened, our leaders had to think of a way to make us listen, so they told us to work together or they won’t want us working for them and told us we had to use something called BIM from 2016.

Our leaders chose BIM because they saw how working together and planning can help to make, send, and use other people’s information better.  To help even more, new papers were made explaining how to share information.  It explained that the owner needs to say:

  • What work needs doing;
  • What information they want;
  • How they want it;
  • What they want to use it for; and
  • What they need back to make good building choices; both for now and when they look after the finished build

[Outline Responsibility Matrix, Employer’s Information Requirements, Plain Language Questions].

Then different build leaders write back and tell the owner how they are going to build, who they want to use to help them, and how they will make sure to give the owner the information they have asked for [Pre-Contract BIM Execution Plan, Project Implementation Plan].  The owner then picks a winning build leader to do the build.

After they have won the job, the build leader then sits with his team to plan the job, with each new team that joins the build leader agrees with them what parts they’ll do [Responsibility Matrix] how they will do it [Standards, Methods, and Procedures], and when they will do it  for [Project Milestones] as part of their agreed plan to create and hand over this information [Post-Contract BIM Execution Plan].  The build leader does this by making sure that each team they pick can follow how they plan to make information [Supply Chain Assessments], they do so so that he knows they have the right team for the build.  The build leader and teams then plan what things to draw, write, and make so that everyone has what they need when it is their turn to start their work [Master Information Delivery Plan].

As they draw the build, each team shares what they’ve drawn so that no two bits cross [Agreed Origin and Orientation, Clash Avoidance].  The teams do this by putting their work in one shared place for everyone to use and follow the plan to use the right names to help them find information easier [Common Data Environment].  The build leader also checks with the owner at the end of each stage to make sure what they are building is right for the owner and that they have all the information they need about the build [Employer Decision Points, Supplier’s Information Exchange].

By planning out what information needed and when, the build leader can be sure that no information is missing during the build [Project Delivery Management]. Also, by planning how to form this information, the build leader can be sure that the information is right and can be used by the build team and owner [Project Information Management]. Finally, by planning how to share information, the build leader can make sure that information has been checked so that all of the work fits together correctly [Check, Review, Approve Process].

At the end of the job, the build leader gives all the information back that was asked for by the owners to look after the finished project [Asset Information Model], making sure that this information is set out as the owner needs to use it [Asset Information Requirements].  If this is decided at the start of the job, the build leader can make sure his team follows it and gives back clear information.  After this information has been given over, the owner then uses his system [CAFM] to look after this information until the next big job, adding, changing, and removing things to keep it clear, right, and without any missing information.

So by following these steps and making sure the team can make the information the owner wants, there is a better chance that the parts of the build won’t be the wrong size, put in the wrong place, or just be the wrong part.  That means that when they finish the build there is less of a chance that money will be a problem, or that it’ll take more time to finish; and best of all, the build finishes with a happy owner.


2 thoughts on “The BIM Explainer

  1. BIM is kind of like “love”. It’s not the same for everyone, though there are some core shared and fundamental characteristics, it evolves, it can be spontaneous, but over time, it requires experience and work to maintain, and it’s not for everyone… :).


  2. I think one can learn a lot about BIM from the prefab industry. Cought between construction and production, prefab in a prefab building one knows exactly where each building element belongs.


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