John Gelder, Head of content development and sustainability, contributed a chapter on BIM and FM to the new guide, BIM for the Terrified. This article is an extended version of that chapter.

Record BIM

By the end of the construction phase, the project building information model (BIM) will have evolved from project inception, through design, regulatory approval and documentation, and then through construction, culminating in a record BIM that is probably best prepared by the construction team. This record BIM will describe what has actually been built, with geometries and specifications branded (proprietary) wherever appropriate (and as far as this is practical), and assembly drawings showing actual dimensions and details rather than those in the contractual construction BIM. Such a broad thing is not usually prepared at the moment, for either pre-BIM projects or BIM projects, though a requirement for the construction team to prepare record (or as-built) drawings of some kind is fairly common.

Something similar could also be prepared for existing buildings, based on pre-BIM documentation if any, and survey work (as was done for the Sydney Opera House externallink).

Operational BIM

Typically, the construction team will also normally have been required (in the contract BIM, for example) to prepare a number of other, largely text-based, documents for handover from the construction phase to the occupancy phase. These would include the health and safety (H&S) file (in the UK), and the operation and maintenance (O&M) manual, both of which would include manufacturer recommendations and other material. Now at the moment these are separate documents, not integrated with each other or with the contract documents. However, in BIM projects it is possible for these to be integrated together, obviously desirable because the health and safety file is mostly about H&S aspects of operation and maintenance. We might call this the operational BIM.


This in turn can be integrated with the record BIM. This makes sense because the record BIM tells the owner what it is that needs to be operated (in a broad sense), and the operational BIM tells the owner how it is supposed to be operated. Both need to be delivered to the organizations responsible for operating and maintaining the built project, whether owners and/or tenants, so that they in turn can benefit from having access to a building information model tailored to their needs.

Using Uniclass2 (CPI, 2013) data structures, this integrated BIM might work as shown in Table 1 (for systems).

Table 1: Using the record and operational BIMs

  Maintain this: ... to these levels ... using these procedures
System outline Record BIM    
System performance   Brief BIM plus later BIM iterations  
Products Record BIM    
Custom-made products Record BIM    
Execution Record BIM    
System completion     To Practical completion: Contract construction BIM
System occupancy management     From Practical completion: Operational BIM


For both the record and operational BIMs a lot of the information would currently be held outside the BIM, particularly about branded products (including warranties and guarantees). But, this must be in BIM formats if it is to be interrogated properly by those querying the model, and it must be maintained during the occupancy phase, e.g. if an original product manufacturer is bought out by another or goes out of business, if a product line is discontinued, or if a product that was used is subject to a court case. With both these points in mind, it might make more sense if all this information was imported into the project BIM, and if someone was given the task of maintaining it for the duration of the project's occupancy on behalf of the owner/occupier.

We should bear in mind that the project BIM at this stage of the project is a large creation, so much so that it will probably exist as a collection of linked BIMs, rather than as a single model. It potentially incorporates all decisions made since the very beginning of the project. Though not all of this information is needed for the occupancy phase of the project, quite a bit of information from early stages will need to be re-activated, particularly from the briefing phase (Figure 1). Construction BIM, and even design BIM, information may also still be needed, e.g. if there are defects in installed manufactured products or systems, and disputes about them. It is probably safe to say that we shouldn't throw anything out! Instead, we need a range of filters geared to different uses, and generating different project BIM subsets (data drops), including the record and operational BIMs.

The BIM chain should not be broken, from project inception to the eventual demolition of the project, otherwise data will be lost, data will have to be remade, and the benefits of having the complete project history in a single (or federated) BIM will be lost.

Creating the record BIM


The contract BIM can be converted progressively into the record BIM, by the construction team, as post-contract decisions are made, e.g. about brands where systems and products have been specified generically or not at all, or about alternative brands to those originally specified (this applies to both the geometrical components of the BIM and the non-geometrical). Some of these decisions will come as, or be ratified by, instructions from the contract administrator (it would be nice if these could automatically revise the BIM once authorised and issued). Some will be left entirely to the construction team (e.g. where the specifier has used 'Contractor's choice' in NBS Create).


The record BIM would be in the same structure as the contract BIM. After all, all that has happened is that generic descriptions have been replaced, one for one, by branded descriptions (NBS Plus is designed to work in exactly this fashion within NBS Create). So the record specification would be in NBS Create structure, for example (bearing in mind that NBS Create permits multiple structures).

Use of space data sheets is essential during the occupancy phases. The model must support them. They will of course have been used before in the project BIM, perhaps as early as briefing.

Creating the operational BIM


The health and safety file is prepared initially by the CDM coordinator, liaising with the client, design team and construction team. However, much of the content could be written (or assembled) by these folk directly, and reviewed by the CDM coordinator (the operational BIM will need an editable H&S file report). Much of the content will come direct from manufacturers.

The contract BIM typically requires the operation and maintenance (O&M) manual to be authored (or assembled) by the construction team (e.g. NBS Create clause 00-80-70/240 The Building Manual), for operation and maintenance by owners and occupiers. But the novated design team might author much of it for design-build procurement regimes. For design-build-operate procurement, the consortium will author it collectively, for operation and maintenance that the consortia will carry out, and for subsequent operation and maintenance by owners and occupiers. Owners and occupiers of existing entities (such as buildings) will author it where they are taking responsibility for operation and maintenance. Again, much of the content will come direct from manufacturers.

BSRIA Soft landings externallink specifically supports building owners and occupiers during the first three years of occupancy, but is intended to be applied throughout all the previous project stages. This is very much in line with the development of a chain of BIMs as outlined above. Soft landings issues should be able to be authored and reported through the project life cycle.

In other words, the operational BIM can be written and used by many players (Table 2), which is a typical objective in building information modelling. Consistent data structures and classification are essential for this to succeed.

Table 2: The project time line, players and procurement routes

  Briefing Design to planning Design post-planning Build Operate to 20 years Operate post-20 years
Build only Owner & design team Design team   Construction team Owner & occupier
Design build    
Design-build-operate D-B-O consortium  


Currently there are no standard national formats for either the health and safety file or the operation and maintenance manual. But if we integrate the health and safety file with the operational and maintenance manual, as the operational BIM, and then integrate this in turn with the record BIM, all as suggested above, then the structure for all these documents will be the same as the contract BIM, from which the record BIM derives. That is, for the textual material, it will be in the same structure as the construction specification (i.e. NBS Create, if this is what has been used).

This is logical because operational matters tend to be about systems and their component products, and the construction specification has a system-based (equivalent to trade-based) structure. NBS Create has the capacity to accommodate this material - each system section has a System facility management subsection intended for it. This means that Uniclass2, manifested in NBS Create, provides the structure for the operational BIM, as well as for the record BIM, and that the two can be integrated easily.

Using the record and operational BIMs

The integrated record and operational BIM should be invaluable to building owners and occupiers - it should deliver the BOOM of BIM-BAM-BOOM externallink, which is the main reason that the UK government is so interested in BIM. The expected (and demonstrated) efficiency benefits of using BIM during the (very long) occupancy phases are irresistible! So what sort of uses might it have?

Operation and maintenance

Operation and maintenance may be delivered by any of three agents:

  • In-house operation and maintenance teams.
  • Specialist operation and maintenance contractors.
  • Design-build-operate consortia for an initial period of perhaps 20 years or so after new-build project hand-over.

They all need access to the same information, ideally in live BIM software (as part of the BIM chain), which can be used to generate reports, maintain information, and run simulations. A possible structure for this sort of information is given below (NBS Create), which picks up health and safety and other issues.

Work to existing

The 'Existing' clauses mentioned above can be supplemented with a parallel set of clauses with the tag 'Work to existing' in their titles (for repairs or alterations), and perhaps another set with 'New' in their titles (for additions), e.g. 'XYZ system - Existing', 'XYZ system - Work to existing', and 'XYZ system - New'.

The UK BIM Task Group ('About the templates' externallink, 2012) has identified what it calls product replacement as a particular role for the operational BIM:

"Both the design and supply side of the AEC sector can benefit from the use of a common set of construction objects, classifications and property names. In particular, the UK Government BIM strategy includes as a key purpose for handover information the information needed to support the process of product replacement, specifically "specification and selection". Replacement includes both direct re-ordering and substitution. The critical objects, classifications and properties are those that inform this process."

This would be needed for repair work, alterations and additions, and so on. Products would only be substituted where they have failed, or where they are no longer available. Products would be re-ordered where they have succeeded and are still available. It's odd that both are characterised as 'replacement'.

NBS Create and Uniclass2

IMPORTANT: For the latest information on classification, please read about the new Uniclass 2015 launched as part of the NBS BIM Toolkit in April 2015.
Find out more...

NBS Create

To support operation and maintenance in particular, NBS Create has a proposed standard structure for the System facility management subsection, which in turn delivers a standard and consistent structure for a number of common project reports as mentioned above (Table 3).

Table 3: The proposed NBS Create 'System occupancy management' subsection

Clause numbers Cause titles Purpose
910-919 System occupancy management generally For citation of any central standards for O&M of the particular system, for example.
920-949 System operation  
  • Functional: [...].
A standard system-based structure for the Operational manual
  • Health and safety: [...].
A standard system-based structure for the Health and safety file under the CDM Regulations 2007.
  • Conservation of fuel and power: [...].
A standard system-based structure for Conservation of fuel and power reports serving Approved Document L, which could function as an equivalent to CIBSE TM31.
  • Waste management: [...].
A standard system-based structure for occupancy-phase Site waste management plans (SWMPs), which goes beyond the construction-phase requirements of the Site waste management plans regulations 2008 (due to be repealed).
950-979 System maintenance Sub-structure is the same as System operation, so includes a standard system-based structure for the Maintenance manual.
980-989 System alteration A place to record issues that someone wishing to alter the system should be aware of.
990-999 System demolition A place to record issues that someone wishing to demolish the system should be aware of.

It would be useful if manufacturer operation and maintenance information was structured with this in mind, particularly for manufactured systems. However, though the proposal is set at system level, particular products will feature here, e.g. some might produce problematic waste in use, some might not.

About this article

John Gelder, Head of content development and sustainability, contributed a chapter on BIM and FM to the new guide, BIM for the terrified. This article is an extended version of that chapter.