NBS research reveals construction industry's alarming lack of awareness of BIM

1 December 2010

Increasing understanding is key to the future

Results from an industry-wide survey undertaken by NBS reveal a pressing demand for improved awareness and understanding of BIM (Building Information Modelling) throughout the built environment industry. This survey – which highlights the industry's limited adoption of BIM – comes only days after Paul Morrell, the government's chief construction adviser, and the Innovation and Growth Team at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published a report on the construction industry's response to the low carbon agenda, which highlights the government's intention to promote the use of BIM for the procurement and management of public assets.

The key findings of the NBS survey show that of those who are aware of BIM:

However possibly most shocking of all is that, despite the trend towards BIM technology, nearly half of the construction professionals who took part in the research still remain completely ignorant of its use or benefits, with 43% of the participants admitting they were neither aware nor currently using BIM.

The largest barrier to adoption is the perception that using BIM will mean significant and expensive changes to current systems, with six out of ten respondents stating that adopting BIM would be too expensive at this time.

Commenting on the survey, Dr Stephen Hamil, Head of BIM at NBS, explained, "The survey shows a clear split in the industry. Almost half admit they are not even aware of BIM. This is worrying, especially following the comments of Paul Morrell and others indicating it is going to be central to the future of public procurement. However, the other half of the industry are aware of BIM and are making preparations to adopt it on a majority of their projects. What this may leave us with is a two tier construction industry, where there is a real chance of many companies being left behind."

According to NBS, a Building Information Model (BIM) is a rich information model, consisting of potentially multiple data sources, elements of which can be shared across all stakeholders and be maintained across the life of a building from inception to recycling (cradle to cradle). This integrated format offers significant benefits, such as cost reductions, entire carbon impact analysis, early clash identification, compliance checking, better project management and simpler procurement to name a few.

NBS continues to stress the importance of the "Information" in BIM. Dr Hamil comments, "The industry must not fall into the trap of seeing 3D CAD as BIM – it is much more than 3D modelling. The key here is rich information. This is more than geometric information from a CAD model. The information model might include contract and specification properties, personnel, programming, quantities, cost, spaces and geometry to achieve the real benefits a BIM has to offer. Software is the interface to a building information model, rich content is what populates it."

NBS continues to undertake research projects and promote debate on this subject in order to guide the industry in its understanding and adoption of BIM, with the goal of convincing the entire community of construction professionals to benefit from the use an integrated information model.

Dr Stephen Hamil, Head of Building Information Modelling at NBS, is presenting these findings at the CIBSE conference 'Building Information Modelling (BIM): Who Benefits?' on 2nd December.

– Ends –

Notes to Editors

About the survey

The NBS BIM survey was undertaken to solicit an understanding of what BIM is and how it is being used in 2010. Sent to more than 6,500 construction professionals across the UK, including architects, surveyors, manufacturers, engineers, contractors and local government organisations, the survey was completed by over 6% of respondents from a good cross section of business types and sizes. NBS intends to publish a research report on the subject in early 2011 at www.theNBS.com/BIM.


NBS, specialist providers of technical information for construction industry professionals, offers essential, innovative products and services, highly valued by those working in architecture, construction, design and engineering.

The premier source of construction-related information, NBS has produced the recognised national standard specification system for the UK for over 35 years. It provides solutions for a broad range of new build, refurbishment, retrofit, landscaping and domestic projects for architects, services engineers, QSs and others. Delivered within a powerful software package, NBS's specification products continue to develop, leading an evolution of the specification and procurement process for buildings in the UK and overseas. NBS also provides solutions for contract administration and project information management.

More than 5,000 offices across the UK subscribe to NBS products, including 96 of the top 100 AJ practices.

NBS produces a range of information delivery products, including The Construction Information Service, a joint venture with IHS. Since 2005, NBS has published the Building Regulations' Approved Documents for England and Wales.

The NBS Learning Channels provide specialist learning services for individuals and organisations working in the architecture, design and construction industry, offering unique high quality video content which is available across four distinct channels: The Architects' Channel, The Civil Engineers' Channel, The Planning Channel and The Surveyors' Channel.

NBS is part of RIBA Enterprises Ltd, the commercial arm of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). RIBA Enterprises employs 250 staff and has offices in London, Newcastle upon Tyne and Newark.