Digital construction report 2021

Incorporating The BIM report


It might be argued that there is always change, that we are constantly evolving what we do and how we do it.

That may be so, but there is a strong feeling that the built environment is currently going through a period of radical change, while dealing with critical challenges.

In fact, this is more than just a feeling: in previous surveys, you have told us that the digitisation of the construction sector will transform the way that we work, and is already doing so.

News headlines highlight on a daily basis the urgent requirement to address climate change and building safety; and recently, COVID has presented a new challenge: forcing us to rethink how we live and work.

Over the past decade, we have canvassed the views of the industry – with a particular focus on building information modelling (BIM) – and have seen how this has led to significant change in the ways that many people work, and the benefits that it has brought.

This change is still happening: BIM is becoming more embedded for some, while for others, the jury is still out. The BIM adoption journey continues, but we felt that it was time to widen the scope of our survey to gain a broader understanding of digital transformation in 2021. So, earlier this year, we relaunched the BIM survey as the ‘Digital Construction Survey’, and 906 built environment professionals responded. Here's a flavour of the findings. We hope you find them interesting and useful.

Dr. Stephen Hamil, Innovation Director

Dr. Stephen Hamil
Innovation Director

David Bain, Research Manager

David Bain
Research Manager

Thank you to all 906 people who took the time to complete the survey, and to the organisations shown below who supported us by promoting it to their members and networks. We are extremely grateful.

British Institute of Interior Design Building Engineering Services Association Centre for Digital Built Britain Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists Chartered Institute of Building Constructing Excellence Construction Industry Council Landscape Institute Royal Institute of British Architects The British Standards Institution Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Glenigan IHS Markit CRASH charity Sustainable energy association CITA

All sectors of the industry were represented, as were a range of perspectives: clients, consultants, constructors, and suppliers. The largest single group was architects, but we had responses from engineers, architectural technologists, BIM managers, project managers, manufacturers and many others, from organisations of all sizes. Whilst the majority of respondents were in the UK, 36% were based outside this country, across over 60 countries, with all continents represented.

Where are you personally based?

Where are you personally based? - World map

64%United Kingdom


10%Europe (excluding UK)

5%North America



1%South America

The digital transformation journey

We found that the majority of professionals have been on a digital transformation journey for some time, with 17% well on the way to completion. 2% even believe they have reached their destination. This is further confirmation that we are in a period of transformation to digital ways of working. Read the full report to find out what technologies people are using.

If digital transformation was a journey, where is your organisation on that journey?

Cars on a road - The digital transformation journey
Car moving along a road - The digital transformation journey

Building Information Modelling

The monitoring of BIM adoption continues to be a core part of this survey. The rate of adoption has slowed over the past few years and this year’s figure of 71% is actually slightly lower than in 2020. However BIM remains part of most people’s plans, with 25% intending to adopt it in the next five years.

In fact, among those who require information about products, 81% say they need manufacturers to provide BIM files/ digital objects. Only 5% say they will never adopt BIM. Access the full report to understand more about which organisations are adopting BIM and what this actually looks like, in terms of the tasks, processes, approach to information management, and standards used.

Within your organisation, have you adopted Building Information Modelling (BIM)?

The Coronavirus pandemic - Covid cell

The Coronavirus pandemic

Clearly, the pandemic has affected us all and we wanted to test the hypothesis that it has accelerated our adoption of digital technologies. This was emphatically confirmed, with 69% saying that it has and only 6% saying that it has slowed things down.

The forced state of home working for some people in the industry has led to a fundamental review of working practices and the exploration of a new, more flexible, approach to where we work.

In the next five years, 58% expect to split their time between home and their usual place of work, such as the office, factory or building site.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your adoption of digital technologies and ways of working?

Thinking about where you work, during the next five years, where do you expect to be based?

18% Mainly at home - 21% at a place of work - 58% splitting time between the two

Next section

Section 1: BIM

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Sign up here for access to the full report for lots more insight, including:

  • What BIM adoption actually means in practice: 3D modelling, PAS 1192 or ISO 19650?
  • Use of common data environments, exchanging information using IFC or COBie formats or writing BIM Execution Plans.
  • The classification system that is most commonly used.
  • Trends in the adoption of cloud computing and virtual reality and how they are being used.
  • How prevalent offsite construction is and what elements are being manufactured offsite.
  • And much more.