Forming a Brief

Hello BIMfans,
It goes without saying that projects can be complex.  Therefore, as discussed in my Prologue, before I begin producing any information I need to establish a brief.  Not just any brief, ideally a clear brief which is not open to interpretation.

ProjectCartoon is a great way of explaining common project issues.

So before I establish my brief, what is it?  As defined within ISO 6707-2, a brief is a:

document that states the requirements for a project
[SOURCE: ISO 6707-2:2017, 3.2.18]

Ok, so the brief will include all of the relevant project requirements; that’s fairly straightforward.  So, how do I go about writing a brief?  Luckily for me, two British Standards have been produced to support the production of design and construction briefs:

  • BS 8536-1, code of practice for building design & construction briefs; and
  • BS 8536-2, code of practice for infratrcutre design & construction briefs.

Note: As I don’t own my road, I will only be using BS 8536-1.

BS 8536-1 provides recommendations on how to produce a brief which considers the needs of the owner (me), operator (me), and end-user (me); being all three means that this standard is a great starting point for me.  Within BS 8536-1, it recommends the use of an evidence-based approach where requirements are captured as performance outcomes; set at the beginning of a project against a plan of work.   The success of these outcomes measured against clear targets using key performance indicators.

Effectively, BS 8536-1 is recommending SMART criteria:

  • Specific.  What is specifically needed?
  • Measurable.  How will progress be measured?
  • Achievable.  Who will do it, are they capable?
  • Realistic.  How realistic is it?
  • Time-bound.  When is it needed by?

Note: If you any of you friended followed connected to me on LinkedIn, you may have read my post on The Great British BIM off.  In essence, it uses The Great British Bake off to demonstrate that SMARTer the brief, the easier it is to meet.

So, that helps me form the structure of my brief but what outcome do I want to achieve?

As discussed within my Prologue, I want to use an asset information model to inform operational decisions about my home.  As such, there is no design or construction (my home has already been built!) so I don’t need to capture any design-related or construction-related requirements.  However, to achieve this outcome I do need to capture enough relevant information to be able to inform these decisions.  Therefore, my brief will need to capture some information requirements.

As defined within ISO 19650-1, an information requirement is:

information requirement
specification for what, when, how and for whom information is to be produced
[SOURCE: ISO 19650-1:2018, 3.3.2]

Information requirements feature heavily within ISO 19650-1 and form a fundamental part of information management.  By providing information requirements, a delivery team can then responding by planning and subsequently delivering information for approval.

A principle of both ISO 19650-1 and BS 8536-1 is that information requirements are produced to answer decisions-related questions.  For example, the question “How expensive is this project likely to be?” would require cost information to answer.  Within BS 8536-1, these are referred to as plain language questions.

Therefore to write my information requirements, I’m going to need some Plain Language Questions

Note:  If you have any comments regarding how to form a brief, then please let me know either on Twitter, or by commenting below.


Hello BIMfans,
Let me start from the beginning.  The idea for There’s No BIM Like Home was born when I bought my first house, Tŷ Crempog.  During this purchase, I quickly realized that I was given an awful lot of information to manage.

Which included:

  • Register of title
  • Transfer information;
  • Energy performance certificate (EPC);
  • Record of any planning or building control applications at the property;
  • Land registry information;
  • 2 Property condition surveys (1996, and 2015);
  • Flood risk assessment;
  • Chancel check;
  • Drainage and water enquiry;
  • Damp survey;
  • FENSA and Certasss certificates;
  • Inspection and testing reports;
  • User manuals;
  • Warranty information; and
  • Much much more…

All of which were given to me as physical documents.  So, first things first, I needed to sort these disparate documents and placed them into a master file to try and keep them organized (I had to buy the document holder myself!).

I’ll be in real trouble if this goes missing!!

Looking at this plethora of paper, I asked myself:

“What is going on, this is the twenty first century isn’t it!?  Surely there is a better way to capture all of this information?”

Well, there is.

As a Chartered Architectural Technologist who has specialized in Information Management and Building Information Modelling (BIM), I have both the knowledge of and experience in producing, managing and delivering construction information using an information model.  Note: If you are not sure what this ‘BIM’ thing is, my blog post The BIM Explainer explains it in simple terms.  In short, BIM is a process that uses a digital representation to produce better information; informing better decisions.

To ensure I have done this process correctly I have (as I always do) turned to standards.  Developed in consensus by industry experts, standards are an agreed way of doing something which improves consistency and increases productivity.   When it comes to information management there are currently two International Standards.

  • ISO 19650-1, describing the concepts and principles; and
  • ISO 19650-2, specifing the requirements during the delivery phase.

In addition to these two, PD 19650-0 outlines several additional British Standards and Publicly Available Specifications which form the ‘core’ of the United Kingdom’s implementation, known as BIM Level 2.

  • PAS 1192-3, specifying the requirements during the operational phase;
  • PAS 1192-4, code of practice for information exchange (COBie);
  • PAS 1192-5, specifying a security-minded approach using BIM; and
  • BS 8536-1/2, code of practices for design & construction briefs.

Note:  All of these standards and publically available specifications are available from and will be frequently referenced throughout this blog.

Originally developed as part of the Government’s Construction Strategy to support government construction projects, these BIM Level 2 standards are scalable and can be applied pragmatically to a project of any size; making them also suitable for the capture of information relating to my home!

By following these BIM Level 2 standards and other good practice standards relating to information, technical documentation, and document management I will be able to produce an asset information model.  As defined within ISO 19650-1, Information management using building information modelling, an asset information model is:

asset information model

information model relating to the operational phase
[SOURCE: ISO 19650-1:2018, 3.3.9]

Instead of using the plethora of paperwork I was given, I can instead use this information model to inform decisions about my home.  For example, my asset information model could store product, warranty, and condition information relating to the different components and systems within my home (and if it’s from IKEA a link to the instructions on how to build it!!).

But first thing is first, I need to work out what information I want to capture.  To do so I need to produce a Brief

Note:  If you have any comments regarding my prologue and the reason I chose to ISO 19650 and BIM Level 2, then please let me know either on Twitter or by commenting below.