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BIM 101 – BIM Levels Explained

8 September,2020

BIM 101 – BIM Levels Explained

You may or may not be aware that there are different levels of BIM (Building Information Modelling). You as a CAD user or company will be at one of these levels of BIM maturity that currently start at Level 0, and moves through to Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

This concept of BIM Levels is becoming the accepted definition of what criteria are required for building projects. It is now quite normal to see that a particular building project would have to meet BIM Level 2 compliance, for example.

Governments around the world are recognising that the process of moving the construction industry to fully working collaboratively will take time, and to make the process easier the progress should work through different levels until reaching the final goal. These levels have been defined within a range from 0 to 3, following is brief explanation of what each level is:

Level 0 BIM

Basically, Level 0 means no collaboration.

It is 2D CAD drafting only, using products such as AutoCAD. CAD is used to create 2D drawings, these can be shared with interested parties via paper and/or electronic means or a mixture of both.

In some projects only PDF files are shared whilst in others (more commonly) all of the CAD files are shared. More often than not everyone is working to their own CAD Standards.

Level 1 BIM

This typically comprises a mixture of 3D CAD for concept work, and 2D for drafting of government/client approval documentation and production information. CAD standards are managed to an agreed standard for the project, and electronic sharing of data is carried out from a common data environment (CDE), often managed by the contractor.

To achieve Level 1 BIM, it is generally accepted that you should achieve the following:

  • Roles and responsibilities should be agreed upon.
  • Naming conventions should be adopted.
  • Arrangements should be put in place to create and maintain the project specific codes and project spatial co-ordination.
  • A “Common Data Environment” (CDE) for example a project extranet or electronic document management system (EDMS) should be adopted, to allow information to be shared between all members of the project team.
  • A suitable information hierarchy should be agreed which supports the concepts of the CDE and the document repository.

Level 2 BIM

Level 2 BIM basically involves collaborative working, and requires an information exchange process which is specific to that project and coordinated between various systems and project participants. In Level 2 all parties use their own 3D CAD models, and are not necessarily working on a single, shared model. The collaboration comes in the form of how the information is exchanged between different parties.

Any CAD software that each party uses must be capable of exporting to a common file formats such as IFC (Industry Foundation Class) or COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange), for example.

In Victoria, we have the Victorian Digital Asset Strategy (VDAS). VDAS aims to effectively and consistently coordinate many of the elements critical in planning, delivering, operating and maintaining Victoria’s critical state infrastructure. These elements include data, information, assets and decisions across the physical asset’s life cycle. VDAS are looking for all projects to be worked on at Level 2 BIM which they define as:

“A level of maturity in BIM, which is distinguished by collaborative working. It involves developing asset information in a collaborative data-rich 3D environment, but created in separate discipline models. The collaboration is in the form of information exchange processes specific to a project and coordinated between different systems and project participants.”

This level also sees the addition of 4D (Construction Sequencing) and 5D (Cost) being introduced into the project.

Level 3 BIM

Level 3 has not yet been fully defined, however, it is seen as the level we ultimately want to get to.

It is often talked about in theory where on any given project all involved are working with a “Shared” 3D project model and non graphical data which is held in a centralized repository. All involved in the project can access and modify that same model, and the benefit is that it removes the final layer of risk for conflicting information or people working on outdated information.

This level also sees the addition of 6D (Project Lifecycle Information).

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