Building Information Modeling (BIM)

What is Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a computer-generated, model-based process that simulates planning, design, construction and operations for buildings. It allows building industry professionals to identify design, construction and/or operational conflicts or problems before construction begins.

BIM is a single repository for both three-dimensional and two-dimensional information (drawings and specifications). It begins with a three-dimensional model and can superimpose both time and location information within the simulated environment. BIM digitally captures the physical and functional characteristics of a building, such as a home, and how they interact.  It is a shared knowledge resource forming a single information repository about the facility, from which informed decisions can be made during its life-cycle, which is defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.

Who uses BIM?

BIM is used by architects, engineers, contractors/builders, subcontractors, fabricators and property owners. BIM is an increasingly used tool that helps facilitate Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), a collaborative approach to the design and building process that harnesses the talents of many individuals in order to enhance coordination and maximize efficiencies, from product design through construction.

Why is BIM beneficial?

With BIM, opportunities for errors are reduced since a single change is universally applied across the project. If the width of ‘Window Type A’ needs to be increased by six inches, a team member can change one ‘Window Type A’ in the computer model. The change will automatically be reflected in all other places and drawings that ‘Window Type A’ occurs.

In addition, BIM defines objects parametrically, so when modifications are required, objects that relate to the object being modified also change as necessary. For example, if the width of ‘Window Type A’ is increased by six inches as mentioned above, the trim, shutters, wall assembly and flashing associated with each of the windows would be updated accordingly.

How can BIM help home builders?

Overall, BIM allows for better collaboration, consistent drawings, accurate cost estimating, and spatial conflict and system clash detection. It can be used for visualization, fabrication/shop drawing generation, code reviews, facilities management, construction sequencing, and trade coordination.

By incorporating time and location data into the model, BIM allows for accurate analyses of energy use, lighting, and acoustics before anything is built. Also, since an entire building and its systems and lifecycle can be modeled, cost estimates and material takeoffs can be more accurate. BIM can also check for spatial conflicts, leading to fewer errors and change orders.

How has the use of BIM evolved since 2014?

In fall, 2016, NAHB’s Economics and Housing Policy group conducted a survey on NAHB member’s familiarity and usage of BIM. The survey is a follow-up to NAHB’s “2014 Building Information Modeling Survey.”

A comparison of 2014 and 2016 results reveals that more respondents are now familiar with BIM. Respondents who said they had never heard of BIM dropped from 43 to 32 percent, and respondents who are familiar with BIM rose from 15 to 26 percent.

Respondents who reported that they are familiar with BIM were asked to describe their company’s use of it. Individuals who are currently using BIM rose from 27 percent in 2014 to 47 percent in 2016.

More single-family builders in 2016 are currently using BIM than in 2014. 72 percent of single-family builders who are familiar with BIM are using it for computer-aided design and drafting, as compared with 48 percent in 2014. The percentage of single-family builders familiar with BIM who are using it for integrated project delivery and project collaboration also rose from 2014 to 2016 (14 to 41 percent and 25 to 34 percent, respectively).

For more information, download the NAHB White Paper on Building Information Modeling.


American Institute of Architects (AIA)

McGraw Hill Construction

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)

The Pennsylvania State University BIM Execution Planning – free to download

  • BIM Planning Guide for Facility Owners, Version 2.0 – June, 2013
  • BIM Project Execution Planning Guide and Templates, Version 2.1 – May, 2011

US General Services Administration BIM resources