This new technology images not just a building’s exteriors but also its wiring, plumbing, project costs and more. Nirthya Rajan finds out

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a new technology that promises to make life easier for architects. BIM allows all aspects, disciplines, and systems of a building to be incorporated within a single, virtual model, thus allowing all design team members, owners, architects, contractors, engineers and consultants to collaborate more accurately and efficiently than was possible in traditional methods.

The model is created in a machine with the help of AutoCAD drawings fed into it. Team members can constantly refine and adjust their portions according to owner preferences, systems compatibility, and design intent, to ensure the model is as accurate as possible before the project ever physically breaks ground.

The model itself can be used to communicate design concepts to the owner and calculate material take-offs for cost estimation and clash detection. The model makes electronic checks to ensure that building systems are designed properly. Making changes electronically rather than on the job site reduces changes that jeopardise the project’s budget and schedule. Building Information Models span the whole concept-to-occupation time-span. The concept basically allows virtual construction of a building before its actual physical construction, thus reducing uncertainty, improving safety, and analysing potential problems. This, in turn, can bridge the information loss that occurs when a project is handed from design team to construction team and finally to the owner.

The model can be 3D or even 6D, based on the project requirement. A 4D model will give project visualisation with cost and risk management, while a 5D will show progression of construction activities over time.

The 6D model is usually delivered to the owner, when a construction project is ready to be closed.

The ‘as-built’ model has all relevant building information such as product data and details, maintenance and operation manuals, photos, warranties, web links to product sources, manufacturer information and contacts, and so on.

The model can be viewed as video, slides, drawings, schedules or walkthroughs. In Chennai, companies such as BIM Global Solutions, IBIM, and HSS BIM Solutions use the technique.