My BIM’s Not Your BIM

BIM is all about collaboration and working together. We regularly preach that here at Epic BIM.  But I would like to use this week's post to point out something very important about BIM that sounds a little more silo'd (but its not).  A BIM is only truly reliable for what it was created for.  I think this needs to be clarified for the industry in general.  There is a common belief that every BIM is equal.  That every model has the same capability to be used for all BIM uses.  This is not true.  I will try to highlight why my BIM is not your BIM.

My BIM is not your BIM because it was made for a specific purpose.  There are many reasons that someone would want to create a BIM: coordination, authoring documents, constructibility review, scheduling, etc.  But the way you build the BIM for each of those purposes might lead to a completely different model.  So trying to re-purpose that model might not work out for you.  This is very important to recognize.  Particularly for individuals that are trying to create BIM workflows, processes, or information exchanges.

There are a lot of individuals out there making up workflows that don't seem to recognize this fact.  It is assumed that every model works for every purpose.  But creating a model in the most efficient manner for one purpose might exclude other BIM uses from being possible for that model.  For example, a simple model built for visualization should not be used for detailed quantity takeoffs.  It just wouldn't work.  You could not get the quantities if you wanted to.  The purpose needs to be considered when you think about other peoples models.

If you don't think about the purpose a model was created for then you might assume it can be used for some other purpose.  It's not wrong to use models for more than their intended purpose.  It's just wrong to assume they can be used for more than their intended purpose.  And I have seen individuals from all parts of the industry fall into this trap.  Here are some common assumptions that are not true:

  • Models built for the purpose of coordination and shop drawing creation are the same as an as-built model.  Bad Assumption
  • Models built for the purpose of authoring documents are able to be used in construction coordination.  Bad Assumption
  • Models built for the purpose of authoring documents are able to be used for quantity take-off.  Bad Assumption
  • Models built for any purpose other than scheduling are able to be tied to a schedule.  Very Bad Assumption
  • Models built for any purpose other than COBie are able to handle/transfer COBie data.  Very Bad Assumption

Now I know I just spent the last few paragraphs making it sound like BIM is some rigid structure that can't be broken.  That's not true.  What is true about BIM is that it can do anything you want if you plan your work.  Construction fundamentals.  Make a plan and work the plan.  Problems in BIM are the result of either not planning at all or trying to deviate from the plan when it is well under way.

So in a typical Epic BIM closing I want to offer you a suggestion.  If you want BIM to do something specific for you, figure out how to make sure the BIM process includes what you want in the plan and then check to make sure that the plan is being executed.  Do not show up in the middle of someone else's BIM process and expect that their BIM will magically do what you need it to.  Understand that my BIM is not your BIM.  If you want it to be, then you need to figure out how to ask for it before the process begins.

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  1. […] To summarize the issue, Contractors and Designers are promising a deliverable that actually requires more work from the Owner than it does from the people promising it. Now if it is understood that this is something the Owner is ready and willing to do then that's great. But in most cases the idea of delivering a FM Model is really the brain child of someone who has heard about it and does not understand that just because models are being created for a project it does not mean that they can be used for FM (See My BIM's not Your BIM). […]

  2. Agreed Robert. Creating a plan was the solution proposed in the post and the Penn State Planning Guide can certainly help you do that. Just don't forget that you need to work that plan as well. Many times it's created and then forgotten about.

  3. Connor, this post is a good explanation of why the Penn State BIM Project Execution Planning Guide begins with asking the question: "What are the uses you want from your BIM?" It is an excellent workflow for BIM planning.


    Robert Anderson
    Nemetschek Vectorworks

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