Different BIMs for different Purposes


from Practical BIM


Survey BIM is the creation of a virtual model of what already exists.

It is very new field as advances in technology make it economic, with new players entering the field. Traditionally design professionals have modelled existing conditions, but one would expect Land Surveyors to become the main creators of survey BIM.

The deliverable is an virtual model of existing buildings, services and terrain, which can be used by design professionals for new works, or by facilities management as the basis for FM BIM.

Technologies like drones and laser scanning are used to gather data, but a Survey BIM is more than gathered data. This data is used to create a virtual model of intelligent objects.
Currently software used is the same that design professionals use (see below) as the functionality required is similar. There is the potential for much of the process to be automated, although I doubt it will ever be fully human free. Design professionals and facility management require simplified virtual models, which will always require some judgement.


A Design BIM is started when the need or desire for a building (or facility) is turned into something that can be built.

It involves design professionals – architects, engineers, cost consultants.
Contractors, facility management, and others may provided advice, but they are not responsible for the contents of design BIMs.

Deliverables include sufficient information to describe design solutions, to construct the building, and cost it.

BIM is used at this stage to create virtual design models. The main purposes of these models is to create a representation that can be tested – used for various analyses, from structural, cost, energy use, to visualization.
Most BIM software can also generate traditional deliverables from the model, (drawings, schedules etc.), and is currently the most common use for design BIM.


A Construction BIM model is used to organize the construction of a building (or facility).

It involves the head contractor and their subcontractors – particularly if they provide shop drawings and\or designs.
Design professionals may be involved, but only to the extent the design is changed, or if they are providing services directly to the contractor (e.g. Design & Construct contracts). In any case it is the contractor who holds responsibility for Construction BIM.

The ultimate deliverable is a completed building, BIM merely assists the process. Although there may be an As-Constructed deliverable in the form of a BIM model.

BIM is typically used during construction to assist processes: installation coordination, setout, time scheduling, cost control, safety management. A BIM model is increasingly being used as a location coordinator for everything, from task allocation to defect rectification.


The last BIM is the FM BIM which is used as a visual database of the things that are managed during the operation of a building (or facility). Rather than data being in text documents and spreadsheets it is linked to a BIM model where it can be found by looking through this virtual model.

The FM BIM model is for the facility managers of the building, not just the ones around when the building is complete, but all future facility managers. This differs from the Design and Construction BIMs which are only useful for a limited time, and therefore can be less rigid as whoever set the model up is still around to ask questions.

An FM BIM model needs to be a static model. A virtual model of what is – not what is to be, (which is what Design BIMs and Construction BIMs are).
The contractor, and sometimes design professionals, role is limited to providing the BIM information they have created for their own purposes. Relevant information is re-purposed from this data to populate the FM BIM model.

Read the full article here.


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