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    4.1 - Guide for Architects

    4.2 - Guide for CS Engineers

    4.3 - Guide for MEP Engineers

    5.0 - Procure

    5.1 - Guide for Contractors

    6.0 - Operate


BIM Keys Explained

3D-cad BIM 2D-digital 2D Paper

BIM keyboard provided by the BIM Academy Africa Pty Ltd.

2D Drawings

Scale drawings are drawings that are proportionately equal to the object/building they represent. They are created using a scale ruler to create accurate drawings – of both very large and very small objects – that fit onto standard size paper.

A section drawing is an imagined ‘slice’ through a building. It describes the relationship between interior spaces, exterior spaces and floor levels, and identifies the area (in the design) that you want to investigate further.

2D Digital

Many professionals still use the traditional (even outdated) 2D CAD technology to represent designs, having yet to explore the enormous advantages of using BIM technology.

This technology requires its designers to draw countless lines, polylines and generic geometrical shapes to represent their objects (doors, windows, walls, columns, etc.) in the project’s working drawings, such as, floor plans, elevation views, cross-sections.


CAD and BIM file types differ enormously making conversion almost impossible. The major differences between CAD and BIM are:

  • CAD files are complex and contain a lot of information, including part performance characteristics. End-users accessing these files either need a separate spec sheet or, more likely, contact a different vendor.
  • 3D Models use intelligent elements, designed with specific behaviours with a unique purpose and specific connection requirements. (eg. A light fixture recognises it must be attached to a wall or ceiling and an electrical source.)
  • CAD models only have one visual representation (highly detailed) and aren’t fluid.

3D Laser

“3D Laser Scanning” – a non-contact, non-destructive technology that digitally captures the shape of physical objects using a line of laser light. 3D laser scanners create “point clouds” of data from the object’s surface. By taking a distance measurement at every direction the scanner rapidly captures the surface shape of objects, buildings and landscapes.

The laser scanner digitally recreates its surrounding environment by measuring a high-density array of point positions to form a “point cloud.” The point cloud can be:

  • Digitally viewed
  • Sliced
  • Used for distance measurement
  • Used for volume calculations
  • Used for surface and solid modelling

With laser technology, we can now survey spaces in an existing building to create a digital ‘cloud’ of geometrical points. It could be worth ‘building’ a third time for a client. Before hand-over the building can be surveyed to create an ‘as-built’ model to be compared with the design model and provide a true digital record of the building.

3D Printing

Construction 3D Printing (or additive manufacturing) is a core method to fabricate buildings or print components. First developed in the 1980’s, it was difficult and expensive to operate, leaving few applications. Technological advances have enabled practical, home-use 3D printers from 2005.

Today, full-scale printers move back and forth to extrude the concrete, layer-by-layer. Trowels placed on the side and above the nozzle flatten the extruded layers and ensure the model’s strength. One can printing a 250m² structure, over 8m high within 24hrs.


Building Information Modelling

It can be difficult to define BIM without descending into technical detail and acronyms. It shouldn’t be that complicated – if it is, you’ve missed the point.

BIM starts with a 3D model. This model is made by using elements that act as virtual place-holders for building materials. Each of these elements are linked to rich, intelligent data about that element.

This data contains information from dimensions to installation, warranties through operations and maintenance and even insurance claims. All this information is in one place – the model.

There is a natural push-back on the disruption that BIM has caused. Change is hard. This resistance is not to the tools and practices themselves, but to the process of learning a new workflow and redefining your own “autopilot.” Like any skill though, your proficiency improves every time you practice it. It requires:

  • Adopting the fundamentals
  • Discipline
  • Perseverance
  • Sticking with “Best Practice”
  • Building on your successes


Building Assembly Model

BAM is the process contractors use and interact with the model onsite to assemble and create the building itself. The model’s second phase sees it become an “instructions tool.” The Building Assembly Model empowers the team to assemble and construct the building to the exact specs that the architect proposed in the design phase.

At this stage, the model:

  • Offers the team a virtual simulation of the building before it is even constructed.
  • Provides the team with a clear set of instructions – customised to their own interests in the project.
  • Most importantly, is a communication tool to collaborate on.
  • Encourages more shop fabrication, which saves on costs and time and improves the quality of these elements.



4D uses the 3D modelling tools to create and manage the timings and schedule of the project. This is achieved by linking each activity on a Gantt Chart (from Primavera or Microsoft Project) to the model. 4D BIM is a powerful tool for communicating the impact of every stage of the built asset. The team can see and get a clear impression of how the asset will look and operate at each stage, rather than having to glean that from plans or Gantt charts.

In short, 4D BIM enables:

  • The team to communicate its intentions precisely with a visual tool.
  • Planners to quickly develop and adjust accurate programmes for a project, based on one united and reliable source of information.
  • Specific activities and items to be clearly linked to their graphical representations.


QSs spend a lot of time and effort into producing accurate cost estimates that they are happy to stake their expert reputation on. It is only natural that these professionals are questioning their futures in a digitalised construction industry. BIM tools can churn out an estimate after all.

5D BIM is more than model-based estimating. It’s a new way of working with the client and project stakeholders bringing a wealth of information and experience to the project using visual communication.

The quality of your cost estimate is directly linked to the quality of the data produced by the rest of the project team. If that’s wrong or inconsistent, errors are carried forward into your costing. That is no different to the traditional approach. The QS has always filled the role of checking the accuracy of the design and closing off the design phase, opening the door to the construction phase of the project. By quantifying materials and costs the project takes its first steps into the physical world and having someone take accountability for this step is paramount.

If anything, Cost Managers are likely to become more valuable with 5D BIM. Time for a pay rise guys and girls!


6D BIM, refers to the intelligent linking of individual 3D components or assemblies with all aspects of project life-cycle management information.

The 6D model is usually delivered to the owner when a construction project is finished. The “As-Built” BIM model is populated with relevant building component information such as product data and details, maintenance/operation manuals, cut sheet specifications, photos, warranty data, web links to product online sources, manufacturer information and contacts, etc. This database is made accessible to the users/owners through a customized proprietary web-based environment. This is intended to aid facilities managers in the operation and maintenance of the facility

7D or BOOM

Building Owners Operation Model(BOOM) or 7D, redefines BIM as a building in interaction mode. The building design and construction process is a knowledge-based system. The design is either qualitative, operative or both. The design process involves identification and definition, conception, communication, creative problem solving, synthesis and realization. This whole knowledge, information that’s called data in the digital world is defined as 7D in the BIM environment. That data could include details about the components manufacturer, when it was installed, the necessary maintenance that it requires and when, how to operate it at its optimum level to enhance performance or conserve energy, and its expected lifespan. “

Faux BIM

With the uptick of BIM adoption, so we see the increase in “Faux BIM” – where companies loosely throw around the term BIM (as a marketing and networking tool) as interchangeable with 3D modelling.

Working on a BIM project with a Faux BIM firm causes various issues as it:

  • Hinders the progress and efficiencies of the team
  • Stunts the adoption of processes required to increase the collective BIM maturity level.
  • Dilutes the project deliverable and construction advantages to be gained by a BIM process, to other consultants who have signed up with certain expectations of a BIM project.
  • Creates unfair tender expectations and costs.
  • Generates additional work and related fees as others now need to constantly convert and supplement missing information.
  • Changes the workflow of accepted Common Data Environments and efficient accepted BIM norms.

BIM Champion

A self-motivated person who undertakes the task of facilitating and implementing BIM concepts and workflows within an organisation, Project Team or industry. Someone is perceived to be a BIM Champion when his/her actions are at the leading edge of BIM technology, process or policy.


A BIM Excellence (BIMe) assessment is series of questions developed to establish the competency of individuals, or the capability/maturity of BIM organisations and teams. BIMe Assessments may be taken online (called BIMe Discovery) or online/onsite (called BIMe Evaluation.)

The assessment tools include software or paper forms used to measure:

  • BIM Capability
  • BIM Maturity
  • BIM Competency

The results are used to generate relevant reports.

BIM Education

The formal or informal efforts to teach/learn how to use BIM software tools, model uses and model-based workflows.

Formal BIM Education relies on structured delivery and that is acknowledged with a certification (degree, certificate or similar.)

Informal BIM Education refers to learning based on reading, attending seminars or similar without a certificate.

Some educational programs (eg. CPD programs) incorporate both formal and informal BIM Education methods.

BIM Execution Plan (BEP)

The BIM Execution Plan (BEP or BIMxP):

  • Is developed by consultants – typically pre-contract to address the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR.)
  • Defines how the BIM aspects of a project will be carried out.
  • Clarifies the team’s roles and responsibilities, standards to be applied and procedures to be followed.

A BEP collates/references other documents including:

  • The Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP)
  • The Project Implementation Plan (PIP)

The BEP may be updated after the contract has been awarded.

(Also refer to BIM Management Plan [AU])

Soft Skill

The personal traits that pertain to personality, attitude, and behaviour rather than to knowledge or technical capability. Soft Skills affect how individuals interact with their job and with each other ad include:

  • Assertiveness
  • Leadership
  • Strategic thinking

Social Media

Web-based tools and mobile technologies that enable the sharing of user-generated content. A Blog, a Wiki and a Twitter account are examples of media enabling social interaction between organisations and individual users.

Common Data Environment (CDE)

A single source of information that collects, manages and distributes relevant, approved project documents for multidisciplinary teams in a project. A CDE is typically served by a Document Management System that simplifies the sharing of data/information among Project Participants. Information within a CDE needs to carry one of four labels (or reside within one of four areas):

  • Work-in-progress area
  • Shared area
  • Published area
  • Archive area

Modelling Standard

The agreed norms of delivering a BIM Model according to defined:

  • Levels of Development
  • Classification Systems
  • Naming Protocols or similar

Information Management

The collection, classification, storage and redistribution of information in digital, audio-visual or paper form. Information Management also refers to the ability of an organisation to harvest and use information in its decision-making process.


A programme (or program) is a document associating one or more classification systems to time and/or location. For example, a BIM Competency Improvement Programme is a document linking BIM competencies, BIM roles (and/or other classification systems) to a timeline or target dates.

Classification System

Subsequently, Uniclass 2015 is a globally used BIM classification system derived from this opportunity to classify ‘things’ in different ways, not simply as a system or an object.  Uniclass 2015 was based on the general structure described in ISO 12006, which promoted the use of classification classes, each of which relates to a classification need.  As well as products (or objects), some of the other classes suggested by ISO 12006 are:

The ASAQS Elemental classification is developed to classify elements and objects for construction in a African environment based on the principals of the Standard method of Measurement.

The classification system is not designed to replace any other classification systems but is an standard for designers to classify elements and objects allowing estimators and contractors to identify elements.
It contains a consistent WBS, classifying items of all scale from a substructure such as strip footings down through to products such as audio visual installations.

It may be that an African classification system is required to satisfy all parties involved in an asset and to make information available throughout its whole life.  This is no simple task, which becomes more complex when the range of assets is considered in both buildings and infrastructure.


Collaborative BIM Workflow

A multi-party, model-based workflow where the type, timing and sequence of activities facilitate the exchange of data, information, models or documents between team members.

Model-based Collaboration

The exchange (or sharing) of information between project participants using 3D digital models. This is the second stage in the BIM Stages index.

Data Drop

An information exchange milestone, where data extracted from the BIModel is delivered to the client/employer at predefined intervals. Data Drops are typically aligned with the 6 or 7 project stages and reflect the project’s overall Level of Development (LoD.)

Level of Model Definition

The minimum Level of Model Detail and Level of Information Detail required in a model at each information exchange. The level of Model Definition is typically articulated in the BIM Execution Plan (BEP) as to conform with the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR)

Similar terms: Level of Definition

Exchange Requirement

A defined set of information units that needs to be exchanged to support a particular business requirement at a particular process phase(s) or stage(s).

(Source: ISO 29481-1)

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)

IFC refers to a neutral/open specification (schema) and a non-proprietary ‘BIM file format’ developed by buildingSMART. Most major BIM software tools support the import and export of IFC files.

(Refer to ISO 16739)

BIM Collaboration Format (BCF)

A schema used for exchanging information and model viewpoints between individuals irrespective of the software tools used. Implemented as both an XML file (bcfXML) format and a RESTful API webservice (bcfAPI) – the Open BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) is typically used to highlight issues discovered during model reviews. The schema allows for the exchange of comments and images linked to specific Model Components through their unique Global Unique IDentifiers (GUID).

Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM)

A computer system supporting the activities required for Facility Management. CAFM systems allow Facility Managers to:

  • Monitor the operational requirements of buildings (eg. energy consumption, lighting, security, etc.)
  • Manage space utilisation
  • Track asset/equipment locations
  • Perform other related functions during the Operation Phase of a Facility

BIM Training Level

The pre-defined benchmark for training staff on using BIM software tools and associated workflows. Training Levels are typically labelled indicating progression from low to high BIM Skill levels, eg.:

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • Skill Levels 1-5, or similar benchmarks

Collaborative BIM

TO WORK successfully in a building information modelling (BIM) environment, we need to collaborate. But what is collaborative working and why aren’t we doing it in construction? Social Strategist Su Butcher explores the barriers and how to overcome them.

Constructing Excellence in the United Kingdom describe six ‘critical success factors’ for collaborative working:

  1. Early Involvement
  2. Selection by Value
  3. Aligned Commercial Arrangements
  4. Common Processes and Tools
  5. Performance Measurement
  6. Long Term Relationships

Document Management System (DMS)

A Document Management System is a software solution to manage the storage, retrieval and workflow of electronic resources (in their native/original format) and their metadata through a central repository. The workflow typically includes:

  • Business rules covering permissions
  • Check-in/check-out
  • Approval processes

Augmented Reality Simulation (AR)

Where 3D models – combined with other technologies – allow users to experience virtual objects superimposed on top of physical objects or places. As opposed to Virtual Reality Simulation, Augmented Reality (AR) is only partial ‘immersive’ thus allowing images from the physical and virtual worlds to appear as one. AR is typically experienced through hand-held screens, wearables, holograms and projections.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a set of technologies, processes and policies enabling multiple stakeholders to collaboratively design, construct and operate a facility in virtual space. As a term, BIM has grown tremendously over the years and is now the ‘current expression of digital innovation’ across the construction industry.

BIM Hardware

The computers, equipment and peripherals specifically needed to generate BIModels and enable the use of them. The term BIM Hardware therefore includes tablets used in Field BIM and 3D Laser Scanners used – as part of a workflow – to generate as-built object-based models.

BIM Implementation

The set of activities undertaken by an enterprise to prepare for, deploy or improve its BIM deliverables (products) and the related workflows (processes.)

BIM implementation includes three phases:

  • BIM Readiness
  • BIM Capability
  • BIM Maturity

Data Management

The activities that controll the delivery and enhance the value of data and information assets. Data Management is an umbrella term for many areas including:

  • Data analysis
  • Data security
  • Data warehousing
  • Database management

Digital Security

A Model Use where 3D models are used for conducting virtual security audits. These may include assessing vulnerability to terrorist attacks, analysing access points, security signage locations, traffic routes, locking/unlocking systems, and locations/coverage of security cameras

Internet of Things (IoT)

Billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data. With cheap processors and wireless networks, it’s possible to add anything, from a pill to an aeroplane, to the IoT. IoT adds a level of digital intelligence to devices enabling them to communicate without a human intervention, merging the digital and physical worlds.

IoT is many things to many people. It includes everything from new applications, such as smart cities or autonomous vehicles to massive sensor networks for monitoring environmental or industrial systems.

It’s a network of ‘smart’ objects embedded with computer chips, software and sensors. These objects are connected to each other and can exchange data with their manufacturer, operator and ad-hoc networks/systems.

Also refer to BIM/IoT Interfacing

Asset Management

BIM-enabled Asset Management links virtual objects and spaces within a model to an external database to operate and maintain a facility or a portfolio of facilities.

BIM Management Plan (BMP)

A formal document that defines how a Collaborative BIM Project will be delivered. A BMP includes:

  • Data Exchange Protocols
  • Detailed guidance covering BIM Roles
  • Model exchange templates
  • Modelling Standards

According to NATSPEC National BIM Guide, there are two types of BMPs:

  • Design BMP
  • Construction BMP

Often, a BMP is considered part of the Contractual Relationship between a project team.

Also refer to BIM Execution Plan (UK)

Model Viewer (MVR)

A software application that allows users to inspect and navigate Modelling Project Information according to ad-hoc or standard Model View Definitions. Unlike model servers, models accessed by a Model Viewer (MV) are read-only and cannot be modified. Examples of MVRs include:

  • Autodesk Navisworks
  • Solibri Model Checker

Library Object

The  BIM Object Library defines requirements for the information, geometry, behaviour and presentation of BIM objects and gives a reassurance of quality and consistency that facilitates greater collaboration across the construction industry. This enables quick, confident and informed decision-making.

Commercial Streams

Due to its complexity and a lack of marketing and education in Africa – and let’s be honest, globally – it is not the commercial streams (clients) that drive the use of BIM in a project, where the client ultimately benefits the most from the technology and processes. However, using BIM on a construction project offers advantages to every level and sector represented in the project, be they time savings, cost cutting, better communication and less mistakes or an user-friendly and more responsive end-product, I have never heard of a client that was upset by the efficiencies offered by a BIM project, and once they have been involved in a BIM project, they are often the biggest advocates of digital construction.




With the exception of South Africa and Japan, most countries’ higher education and professional body institutions are including structured BIM education within the syllabus of their AEC courses, at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level. Countries such as Australia, Finland, Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, UK and USA are reporting a significant volume of courses and subjects available. Many vocational education institutions are also providing BIM education to the industry’s workforce..

Whilst the majority of BIM education being provided tends to focus on the use of particular BIM software packages. It has been reported that training for both graduates and professionals in OpenBIM concepts, BIM management and working in collaborative BIM environments, appears be increasing, particularly in the northern European countries, but it still has a long way to go.

Countries including Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA have reported training and education being available within most Institutions and offers CPD accreditation.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.


Access www.NavBIM.com for more information on Building Information Modelling and the steps to making your BIM career a success.