BIM – What’s the Story?

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BIM – What’s the Story?

One theory behind our unwillingness to adapt quickly to such changes is the UK’s conservative approach to accepting new technologies until effectiveness is proven and thoroughly tested. While this may leave us out of the title race, the argument can be made that the UK construction industry is built upon solid grounding and practise and that we are still seen as one of the global leaders – particularly within sustainable construction.

However, the time for change is now upon us; industry reform is generally recognised as an essential tool for increasing its competitiveness and by 2016, the Government is legally obliging that the practise of BIM (Building Information Modelling) becomes industry-wide within public sector projects. As a client, the Government can contribute to this competitiveness while driving through significant improvements on cost, value and carbon performance.


BIM as defined is Building Information Modelling – a sharing platform for information between:

  • Contractors
  • Architects
  • Project Managers
  • Structural Engineers
  • M&E Consultants

These contributing roles collaboratively input into the BIM methodology to share information across each party, for example environmental designs and generation of quantities.

BIM is being seen as a revolutionary tool, whereby a 3D geometric model is developed using parametric modelling software of the building in question. However, an additional two-dimensions are also incorporated – the 4th dimension as time and the 5th as cost.

This 5D shared-design concept between contractual parties has the ability to produce significant time and cost savings as well as waste reduction. Not only is this due an increased exchange of information, but the ability to view a virtual representation of the developed building(s) functionality – as well as design – which allows all data to be accurately established before any construction takes place, ensuring any issues are resolved before being discovered on site.


As well as targeting cost, time and waste reductions, BIM can be utilised to identify efficiency elements of a build. By simulating different effects on the structure and internal environment – for example natural ventilation and solar gain – the design can be applied over the building’s whole life cycle. For example, by placing lesser used rooms such as bathrooms and storage into the north facing side of a house, users will be able to enjoy the longer periods of sunshine in the most used rooms of the house and subsequently reduce heating costs.


It goes without saying that many construction industry professionals and companies continue to struggle amid uncertain economic times and therefore investing in new technology is not a current priority.

However, while Level 2 BIM on the maturity scale will become mandatory for Government-funded buildings in 2016, it is also clear to see that BIM has long-term investment potential to significantly reduce not only contract tender values and costs, but also company outgoings while ensuring practises remain competitive by offering a more streamlined, collaborative and cost-friendly approach, and thus contributing to retaining business and developing new clients. 

Speller Metcalfe has always prided itself on maintaining its title as a leader in the field of public and private sector construction. To this end we are already utilising BIM technology – four years ahead of Government specification – and have invested employment opportunities for newly qualified industry professionals working to current industry practises. Our results will continue to be improved upon as the use of BIM becomes integrated into our working practises. 

Our biggest project to date – a £21m development – Habberley Learning Campus – combining three schools onto one site, will be a fundamental lauchpad for the use of fully collaborative BIM, with Speller Metcalfe having won the design stage contract as preferred bidders of the three contractors under the West Midlands Contractor Framework.

Construction, Architectural, Structural, M&E and QS disciplines are working closely together using Revit software to develop a shared data-rich model for use as the central tool in the progression of design development.  This will deliver the following significant benefits to the project:

  • Accurate visualisations of building design allowing more productive consultation with project stakeholders
  • Use of model to generate accurate quantities during building takeoffs
  • Significant time savings in the production of planning submission & construction drawings
  • Accurate Structural and M&E design enabling cost saving clash detection exercises
  • Accurate Environmental Design Modelling

Elsewhere in Speller Metcalfe Living we are harnessing the capabilities of BIM to develop turnkey housing projects, using accurate 3D design visualisations in collaboration with key project stakeholders to develop designs which fit local needs & aesthetics.

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