The four pillars of BIM

We now introduce you to the ‘four pillars of BIM’.

You will investigate how these are successfully integrated into BIM projects.

When considering BIM it can be helpful to consider four significant factors:

  • policy

  • people

  • technology

  • process

It is argued that it is only when these elements are integrated and working harmoniously that the true value of BIM will be experienced.

If all four elements are fully considered within BIM adoption, then it sets the initiative for a solid foundation of understanding.


Knowledge of Building Information Modelling (BIM) within the construction industry is on the rise. The yearly reports produced by the National Building Standards (NBS) are valuable resource for learning more about the rate of BIM adoption within the UK and international context.

For instance, the National Building Standards (2012, 2013) reports demonstrates the decrease in number of construction workers not aware of BIM. That is, 43% in 2010, 21% in 2011 and 6% of the UK industry were unaware of BIM. This shows the rising knowledge in BIM and possibly its usefulness.

Other statistics show that in the earlier years about 74% of the industry was not clear enough on what BIM was but by 2016 about 54% were now aware and currently using BIM, 42% was at least only aware and just 4% was neither aware nor using BIM (National Building Standards 2016), meaning, the knowledge of BIM keeps rising with time.

Regarding the future of BIM, 73% of participants agreed with the statement ‘BIM is the future of project information’.

These statistics indicate that, although some gaps are still present, knowledge of BIM is on the rise and there are prospects to continue to rise in the future. Realistically, BIM awareness is not the only reason for adopting BIM in the AEC. However, awareness of BIM influences policy changes to adopt BIM where necessary. In the UK for instance, the awareness of BIM and its benefits has led to the government calling for BIM to be mandatory for public projects. This policy change has influenced the private sector to follow suit.


A core feature of working within a BIM environment is the drive towards encouraging multidisciplinary collaboration from the outset of a project. The multiple benefits of all disciplines working together within one core BIM environment are substantial.

A major issue experienced within non-BIM design processes is the matter of conflicting design issues; the ethos of having a core central BIM model is to facilitate a smoother transition through these issues by identifying conflicts earlier on in the project stages thus reducing the negative effects on schedule and costs.

From an early stage projects can be visualised, allowing the client and designer alike to gain an appreciation of how the design is going to materialise. This allows for important design decisions and alterations to be made at an early stage where the cost repercussions are small or even zero.


BIM technology has, over the years, helped in carrying out all of the pre-construction design analysis and interrogation, resulting in reduction of conflicts and changes made during the construction phase that usually have a detrimental effect on a project in terms of wastage, quality, time and costs.

At the same time, the stringent energy analysis that can take place in the early stages of a BIM project aims to improve the performance of a project in regards to low-impact design.

Finally, post project completion, a high-quality BIM model can continue to be utilised by an asset team to assist in the management of their assets in an efficient and environmentally conscious manner.

The efficiency of the effects of changes within documentation or design is greatly improved as any changes made that are linked to the main BIM package will automatically be carried through and updated to all corresponding linked documents and models.


Having the design process completed within a BIM environment using a core 3D BIM model at the centre of the project leads to multiple benefits post model creation.

The models can be analysed allowing for a multitude of model interrogations to take place, including energy analysis, structural analysis, accurate schedules and quantity take-offs.

It is argued that using BIM processes for building projects will improve the energy efficiency, improve the scheduling, facilitate a reduction of waste and, possibly paramount to this, facilitate a reduction in costs.

Your task

Consider the importance of all the four pillars.

Investigate examples of projects incorporating BIM or studies of the implementation of BIM in your own region of the world.

Are all of the four pillars successfully implemented? Are they integrated and working harmoniously?


National Building Standards (2012) NBS National BIM Report 2012. Newcastle upon Tyne: RIBA Enterprises Ltd

National Building Standards (2013) NBS International BIM Report 2013. Newcastle upon Tyne: RIBA Enterprises Ltd

National Building Standards (2016) NBS National BIM Report 2016. Newcastle upon Tyne: RIBA Enterprises Ltd

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Building Information Modelling

Coventry University

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: