Can BIM make Homes Safer?

Updated: Apr 21

With recent updates from the Building Safety Act 2021, including Dame Hackitt’s central idea of the Golden Thread of Information, there is soon to be an all-encompassing digital store of information that can ‘overhaul regulations, create lasting generational change, [and] set out a clear pathway on how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained, and made safe.’[1]


Within the Construction Industry as a whole, it has been acknowledged that rapid, fundamental changes are required, highlighted by recent events such as the Grenfell Tower disaster 2017, leading with possibilities made possible by utilising digitisation, the World Wide Web, and increased fluidity of information sharing.


Is there a potential that BIM Level 3 can also provide us with this opportunity?


As outlined in the Building Safety Act 2021, during the planning stage, the Dutyholder must submit the following to the Building Safety Regulator, BSR, to prove compliance:


  • full plans, including a detailed specification in relation to how fire and structural safety risks will be managed.

  • 3D digital modelling of the building 'as planned', which must also show the construction products that are to be used.

  • Fire statement, addressing fire service access and water availability. This will ultimately be developed into a fire and emergency file, building on the fire statement, and updated throughout the construction phase.

  • A construction control plan setting out how compliance with the Building Regulations will be achieved and how changes will be controlled and recorded. Major changes affecting safety will need to be agreed with the principal designer and client and approved by the building safety regulator in advance.[2]


So, this begs the question, if BIM Level 3 is implemented in a similar manner, can it work as a kind of digital BSR?


An example of the virtual model of BIM

[3]The current BIM Level 2, mandated in Government projects since March 2016, focused on full collaboration between various project members. BIM Level 2 uses ‘files and libraries that are shared amongst the project team, with the 3D project model containing object-based information.’[4]


It utilises the all-important 3D model alongside information about:

− maintenance,

− fixing methods,

− warranty contracts, and

− certifications.

− Alongside Manufacturers information, including contact details, etc.

− and installation’s information.


This ensures that alongside design and product specification, collaboration and efficiency are incorporated as core principles, to continue the Government’s improvement plan to stay strong in a sector where we have a ‘strong competitive edge.’[5]


BIM Level 3 expects to utilise the ‘”Internet of Things,”’ (IoT) which is a system in which everything is managed from the original model, from the moment building begins, through to deconstruction. This ‘ultimate goal for the construction industry,’[6] relies on a ‘uniform environment called BIM Level 3 Model Coordination Servers which uses a database to describe building models,’[7] which in practice is a single on-line integrated building model that all users access at the same time, in a cloud-based environment, on the IoT. This allows for greater capabilities in minimising or reducing design errors, alongside documenting and correcting building defects, as well as increased collaboration.[8]


Inforgraphic explaining how BIMs IoT connects many factors, making buildings easier to track and maintain

This next level of BIM allows for the inclusion of further types of BIM dimensions:

  • 3D: It refers to 3D generated drawings- this is already present in BIM Level 2 and will continue in Level 3.

  • 4D: It is linked to time management, with construction sequencing.

  • 5D: It concerns data that have to do with the cost of the project, adding cost information to the model.

  • 6D: It’s a dimension dedicated to the life cycle management of a building.[9]

These new dimensions will potentially mean that BIM can develop into an asset information model, using performance-based building data to improve everything from the construction of the building itself, in new automated ways that save money, reduce CO2 emissions, and material wastage, while also allowing for predictive maintenance, asset performance tracking, and facilities management.[10]


BIM for an office building

All of which makes it very similar to the role of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), the Dutyholders and the Appointed Person/s, from the Building Safety Act 2021. Just with more automation and less tea-drinking.


In both positions, BIM and the BSR are tasked with keeping an eye on all areas that might impact on building design, construction, usage, and demolition. They ensure the building is managed to the best of its ability, to ensure safety checks and other key maintenance issues are carried out, to protect residents and the building itself, to prolong its usable lifespan as an asset.


Both systems are inextricably useful for asset management and planned maintenance, due to the


‘quality of planning, and of decisions, can only ever be as good as the quality, accuracy, and accessibility of the information on which these are based. Armed with a comprehensive overview of your estate (quite literally at your fingertips), the interrelationships between the requirements of the assets become clear. This leads to highly effective decision-making about the timing and alignment of planned works.’[11]

However, unlike the Building Safety Regulator from the BSA 2021, BIM is applicable to any classification of construction within the built environment.


While the Building Safety Act 2021 applies only to High Rise Residential Buildings (HRRBs), BIM is applicable for all, and could mean that the same element of protection and attention is given to all newly built properties, of any classification.


These advancements will be welcomed by organisations such as the Local Government Association (LGA) who have made their fears about the upcoming ‘two-tier system’ well known,


‘” The LGA has long-warned about the need for building safety reforms to avoid creating a two-tier building safety system which leaves buildings under 18 metres vulnerable and unprotected.”’[12]

The advancements of BIM Level 3 could well mean that new housing stock can be made as safe as HRRBs will be under the new BSA 2021, going some way to allay the fears of the wider construction industry, and making homes safer for all, regardless of the height of the structure.


Should BIM Level 3 be mandated on all projects alongside the incorporation of BSA 2021 recommendations?


Let us know in the comments!


_____________________________________________________________________________ [1] Gov.UK, ‘Building Safety Bill,’ published 05.07.2021, <https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/building-safety-bill#factsheets>

[2] PinsentMasons.com, ‘High-rise building safety reform: the 'golden thread' of information,’ published 04.07.2019 <https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/high-rise-building-safety-reform-the-golden-thread-of-information>

[3] Image from biblus.accasoftware.com, ‘IoT in BIM,’ https://biblus.accasoftware.com/en/iot-in-bim/ 01.03.2022

[4] AllPlan.com, ‘BIM Level 3 – Why We Don’t Want To Send Any More Files And Emails In The Future,’ published 10.04.2020 <https://blog.allplan.com/en/bim-level-3>

[5] HM Government, Ministerial Foreward from Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade in ‘Digital Built Britain: Level 3 Building Information Modelling- Strategic Plan,’ published February 2015

<https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/410096/bis-15-155-digital-built-britain-level-3-strategy.pdf>

[6] LetsBuild.com, ‘Building Information Modelling: The future of construction,’ <https://www.letsbuild.com/blog/bim-maturity-levels>

[7] AllPlan.com, ‘BIM Level 3 – Why We Don’t Want To Send Any More Files And Emails In The Future,’ published 10.04.2020 <https://blog.allplan.com/en/bim-level-3>

[8] Image from biblus.accasoftware.com, ‘IoT in BIM,’ https://biblus.accasoftware.com/en/iot-in-bim/ 01.03.2022

[9] LetsBuild.com, ‘Building Information Modeling: The future of construction,’ <https://www.letsbuild.com/blog/bim-maturity-levels>

[10] Image from Ensignonline.co.uk, ‘BIM: 3D Modelling for Buildings,’ <https://ensignonline.co.uk/bim/> 01.03.2022

[11] AHR Global.com, ‘TAKING A RETROSPECTIVE APPROACH TO BIM,’ published by Lee McDougall on 21.02.2019 <https://ahr-global.com/Taking-a-retrospective-approach-to-BIM>

[12] Cllr David Renard, housing spokesperson at the Local Government Association (LGA) quoted in the ConstructionIndex.co.uk, ‘Councils urge MPs to expand scope of Building Safety Bill,’ published 19.01.2022, <https://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/news/view/councils-urge-mps-to-expand-scope-of-building-safety-bill>


Cover image from Geospatialworld.net, 'What is BIM?' published by Shimonti Paul on

02/15/2018, <https://www.geospatialworld.net/blogs/what-is-bim/> 01.03. 2022

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