11 May 2017

This is the first NBS National BIM Report since the introduction of the UK Government’s BIM mandate. It is significant, therefore, that BIM adoption has reached a high point this year. The UK BIM mandate has added an impetus to BIM adoption in the UK. BIM Level 2 looks to be well established; the normal way for most practices to carry out design work. Over 60% now use BIM, and 95% expect to within three years. To change a relatively static industry like construction in such a short period is nothing short of astonishing and is best in class at a global level.

The design community is broadly supportive of the UK Government mandate. Most feel the Government is on the right track with BIM, and that it supports at least two of the four core strategic aims of the Government for construction, namely;

  • BIM will help bring a r eduction in the initial and whole life costs of built assets.
  • BIM will help bring time efficiencies, reducing time from inception to completion

This fits with the benefits of BIM to those routinely using it; better collaboration and information co-ordination that bring cost efficiencies. These cost efficiencies are already apparent to the design team; the next challenge is to educate more clients about them. The report shows there is still work to do here, but the work is well underway.

Part of this work is demonstrating that BIM is (of course!) not just for the public sector. Each year the UK Government publishes details of the construction cost reductions it has made. Seeing these savings makes it clear why the UK Government has backed BIM, and why other countries are looking to the UK to inform their BIM journey. As the UK public sector shows the real benefits BIM brings, the private sector is also showing itself quick to implement, as are other countries.

Those who have grown up online will expect to design within a collaborative digital working environment. The young digital natives will mould the working practices of the digital visitors.

Richard Waterhouse,


It is not all good news and the report shows there is still work to do. Whilst confidence in BIM skills is improving among the design team, it could be better. Many still need information, CPD and training. Fortunately, there are many resources to help here. Whilst some clients lead the way on BIM, many others need further support and careful explanation of the process and its benefits. The UK has a comprehensive suite of BIM standards and protocols, yet they remain underused and are sometimes seen as too complex. Additionally, BIM adoption is lower among smaller practices, although even here, it is getting close to a majority. This work is underway and year on year, on all these issues, the picture is improving.

What next for BIM in the UK? We can expect adoption and use to increase steadily over the coming years.

This is not just existing designers adopting new, better, ways of working. Those who have grown up online will expect to design within a collaborative digital working environment. The young digital natives will mould the working practices of the digital visitors.

The move to BIM Level 2 is just a step on the way, though. As the UK BIM mandate becomes embedded, thoughts are naturally turning to what next. The report hints at some future technologies that will be significant: robotics, 3D printing, future cities and machine learning, for example.

These form a part of a general trend. Information is getting physical, and the physical is getting information. We are moving from gathering information to improve the design stages, to information being continuously added to and evaluated by buildings, as they are used.

The easier design iterations that BIM Level 2 has brought us will lead to iterative building production, as in use data refines buildings design. Value will be held less in the built asset itself, and increasingly in the information about that asset.

Through social media and web use, we are starting to get used to ‘collaborative consumerism’. As we come to give more and more information about ourselves in the future through our use of tomorrow’s buildings and cities, will we see ‘collaborative living’? That’s for the future, a future that is now assured to come through BIM. We’ve come a long way since our first BIM report and our journey continues. We can look forward to future developments, with the UK at the forefront of design innovation.

This article is taken from the NBS National BIM Report 2017. Find out more and download the full free report including comprehensive analysis of our survey results.