With chapter eight of the Hackitt Review entitled “The golden thread of building information” making regular mention of BIM4Housing, Andrew Carpenter, chair of the organisation, is expecting a busy few months ahead as more and more housing professionals seek help with the adoption of BIM.
The Hackitt Review, published last month, recommended that BIM be used to provide a digital information flow for all high rise residential projects over 10 storeys.
BIM4Housing was set up in January 2014 to promote the uptake of BIM within the housing sector both private and affordable. Hitherto the housing sector had been well behind the curve when compared to other parts of the UK construction industry.
This was probably down to the fact in part that it had not been mandated to adopt BIM by April 2016 for government-sponsored schemes as had all other sectors such as education, health, MOD etc.
The group is made up of a series of volunteers from all walks of the housing sector including institutions like NHBC, NHF and HBF together will individual organisations like WM Housing, Miller Homes and PRP.
In essence BIM4Housing acts as a vessel for best practice on the subject of BIM and then communicates and disseminates that best practice through its website and conferences around the UK.
These conferences were launched in London earlier this year and followed up in Birmingham in May. Future conferences are planned for Manchester on 12 June, Leeds on 5 July and Exeter on 12 September with dates for Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast yet to be announced.
In addition, the team is looking to produce a “benefits matrix” to outline the value of adopting BIM throughout the design, build and, importantly, asset management process and across the supply chain.
We are also working on assessing the current levels of knowledge and then creating outputs to fill any gaps that might be present. Full details can be found by visiting http://constructingexcellence.org.uk/bim4housing/.
The main obstacle to the adoption of BIM, as pointed out by Dame Judith, is the culture of our sector. Reports going back to Latham and Egan in the 1990s have suggested we are too adversarial and fragmented and that we need a collaborative culture and integrated supply chain in place for any positive reform to stick.
BIM is no different but we are hopeful that as a result of this Hackitt Review and other incidents like the fall of Carillion, which has put the UK construction industry on the front pages of all the newspapers for the wrong reasons, this culture change will now take place.
BIM4Housing is perfectly placed if this indeed is the case as we have Constructing Excellence as our secretariat which of course is the organisation charged with driving the change agenda within UK construction and has 10 regions and over 40 best practice clubs to disseminate the message.
Over the four and a half years of BIM4Housing we have enjoyed many presentations that outline the business benefits of adopting BIM. Other than the obvious “clash detection’ which is always the first benefit quoted we have seen actual examples of more accurate take-offs, a reduction in waste, marketing advantages that allowed one company to sell a complete block of flats to a foreign visitor without them ever setting foot in the UK due to imagery, the planning process being accelerated, tenants in affordable housing being able to preselect interiors and most importantly, when it comes to the Hackitt Review, myriad advantages aligned to facilities management and ongoing use of the building.
It is the latter for which we expect the biggest response following the Hackitt Review and we are gearing ourselves up accordingly.
As a voluntary organistaion we will do our best to step up to the plate, realising the responsibility we and the sector has to adopt BIM quickly, because this opportunity of a lifetime has to be grasped in the lifetime of the opportunity.
We owe it to those who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire to take up the challenge laid down by Dame Judith Hackitt, change the culture of our industry, adopt BIM as standard practice and provide a positive legacy.
Andrew Carpenter is chairman of BIM4Housing and CEO of the Structural Timber Association