It has now been a year since the Government construction strategy externallink was published by the Cabinet Office, on 31 May 2011. An efficient construction industry was highlighted in the government's plan for growth as of critical importance to the UK economy, representing 7% of GDP or £110bn per annum of expenditure. With 40% of this figure being in the public sector and central government being the industry's biggest customer, the overall aim of the report was to reduce costs of government construction projects by 15-20%, the savings from which can then be reinvested in other government projects.

A number of trial projects were established to test a number of new approaches to achieve this including new models of procurement, Building Information Modelling, Soft Landings and Lean Procurement. The report announced the government's intention to require collaborative 3D BIM on all central government departments projects by 2016 (a minimum collaborative Level 2 BIM is currently required as of this year, i.e. COBie). As part of this agenda, the BIM Task Group was set up to support and help deliver these objectives, made up of expertise from industry, government, public sector, institutes and academia.

A year on

In July 2012 the Cabinet Office released the One year on report and action plan update externallink, in which they outline the progress to date. The report acknowledges that the strategy was always known to be ambitious and some elements of the original plan have shifted in the proposed timetable or are now being dealt with in a different way. With regards to the government's commitment that it would require fully collaborative 3D BIM on all centrally procured construction contracts by 2016, a number of strides have already been undertaken and are now in place.

Additional government trial projects externallink have been highlighted; the Ministry of Justice currently have five trials underway and have set themselves a target for 'all suitable projects' to be delivered using BIM by the end of 2013. The Department of Health have identified four suitable projects and the Education Funding Agency has identified one project.

The report highlights a number of key milestones so far including:

Legal, commercial and insurance protocols for BIM are nearing completion

The future envisioned by Latham and Egan of high levels of collaboration, team integration and partnering have, at best, only been partially realized. The recently published NBS national construction contracts and law survey 2012  externallink and NBS national BIM report 2012 externallink found that in both areas progress is at its best where there is collaboration.

Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie)

The digital exchange format COBie UK 2012 has been prepared and will provide a level playing field and minimum standard to reach level 2 BIM. Essentially, it is a spreadsheet data format that contains digital information about a building in as complete and as useful a form as possible. Its non-proprietary spreadsheet format means that it can be managed by organisations of any size and at any level of IT capability and linked to other systems and software. The buildingSMART website give definitions and examples of its current incarnation, COBie UK 2012 externallink.

BIM-enabled plans of work

BIM-enabled plans of work are being prepared by a number of institutions. The RIBA have been working with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and published the BIM overlay to the RIBA Outline Plan of Work externallink earlier this year. The current 2007 Outline Plan of Work (updated 2008) was evaluated with regards to the various strands of knowledge in relation to BIM. The overlay is intended as guidance on the use of BIM in the context of the current plan of work and together with the Green overlay forms part of the preparatory work being undertaken prior to a complete review of the Plan of Work taking place in 2012-13.

PAS 1192-2:2012

PAS 1192-2:2012 documents the delivery of BIM enabled information and is currently out to public consultation and general review via the British Standards Institution.

Links being forged for public-private sector collaborations

Links are being forged for public-private sector collaborations in the form of BIM for retail, BIM for rail and BIM for developers. The groups have been formed of representatives from the respective sectors, all with a common interest to develop and improve the awareness, skill and use of BIM technology.

National BIM Standard

A reciprocal memorandum of agreement has been reached with buildingSMART US to develop a national BIM standard. The principles will be based upon interoperability which will be the key to future level 3 'open and shared BIM'.

Network of regional BIM hubs

One of the outcomes of the Government Construction Strategy externallink and BIM Task Group externallink was the formation of regional 'BIM Hubs' externallink. Their intention is to act as the first point of contact for BIM advice to industry, SMEs and clients and are being run by the Industry Council. The first wave of workshops are being rolled out this September across the UK. These will feature presentations from BIM Task Group members who will explain the government's BIM policy and how you can engage with the new BIM Hubs, and will feature local case studies.

BIM Task Group website  externallink set up

The site provides good information and gives a clear message to the whole supply chain about the government's BIM programme and requirements. The site also lists the main working parties associated with the BIM Task Group, including the BIM Technologies Alliance, of which NBS is part. The site also offers information around process but is mostly focused around information.


Over the last year, the NBS has also been making great progress in its own BIM journey. In March 2012 the first phase of the NBS National BIM Library  externallink was launched, followed by further phase two content in July.


While BIM is mature in the US, we are just at the start of our journey in the UK. We can perhaps see the greatest potential gains of BIM at post-occupancy stage. These benefits post-construction are still yet to be measured, however over the coming months we can hopefully begin to gain tangible data that we can draw upon.