How BIM enhance the risk management and mitigation of risk


A recent study explains that an estimated 40% of global raw materials are consumed by building construction. Both worldwide per person consumption of raw materials and energy are growing (Tardif and Smith, 2009).  This might lead to a negative risk impact to the earth and its resources.

Furthermore, there is a high risk that information about components, materials and systems in the building life cycle is continually lost and the cost of re-gathering that information soon becomes very high. Employees leaving there jobs result in further loss of specific and reliable knowledge about the facility. Inadequate maintenance leads to low equipment performance and early failure of equipment or system. The lack of documented maintenance history may itself lead to early replacement.

If a software implementation does not increase productivity, streamline workflow, increase the quality of building and assets produced, reduces operating costs, and increase profits, it indicates that the right software has not been chosen and the same should not be deployed.

There has long been compelling evidence that many safety risks are created in the early design stage of projects. Hence, it can be argued that one of the most effective means of dealing with a hazard is to eliminate it at source, that is, Prevention through Design (PtD). Studies have confirmed that the utilization of Building Information Modeling (BIM) enhanced the optimization of the design to yield the best outcome at the design stage which led to a better risk management. Nonetheless, the potential of BIM for PtD is yet to be explored (Kamardeen, 2010).


PtD leveraging on BIM consists of three tasks:

  1. Hazard profiling of BIM model elements,
  2. Providing safe design suggestions for revising high hazard profiled elements, and
  3. Proposing on-site risk controls for hazards that are uncontrollable through design revisions.

There are two central elements for this process, including IFC specifications for BIM models and a PtD knowledgebase that houses the following three sets of knowledge.

1. Hazard profiles of individual building elements with their risk intensities for various combinations of construction methods.

2. Safe design expertise.

3. On-site risk control expertise.

A schematic concept of 8D modeling for PtD is illustrated in Figure 1. The first step in PtD using BIM is hazard profiling of BIM model elements, which is carried out by integrating the IFC file of these elements and the PtD expertise in the PtD knowledgebase. In the second stage, high hazard rated elements will be recognized and safe design suggestions will be provided for design revisions. After the design has been revised for safety, a second set of suggestions will be provided for on-site control of risk that might transpire from hazards that were uncontrollable through design revisions.


Figure 1: Framework for BIM-based PtD


The construction risk at the design stage may occur when the completed building does not meet the needs of the owners and occupants. Changing needs of the owner over time or poor communication between design staff and the owner creates this risk (Hammad, Yahaya, and Rishi, 2012).

However, Building Information Modeling (BIM) refers to the creation and coordinated use of a collection of digital information about a building project. The information can include cost, schedule, fabrication, maintenance, energy, and 3D models which are used for design decision-making, production of high quality construction documents, predicting performance, cost estimation, and construction planning, and eventually, for managing and operating the facility based on these functionalities of BIM, it can therefore be used in mitigating construction risk in the following ways:


  • Elimination of manual extraction of drawing through data exchange platform or other method of integrating process. BIM applications utilize parametric modeling. Parametric modeling involves the use of relational database containing information regarding the elements of a structure and their relationships. The capture and management of objects relationships is useful in enabling a high level of model analysis beyond object properties. Therefore, the model can be used to generate space calculations, energy efficiency, structural analysis details and traditional design document. Thus, the risk of wrong measurement or inaccurate generation of cost will be minimized.


  • Reducing the design deficiency through data exchange platform: the main benefit of BIM is its ability to decrease errors made by design and construction teams by employing the mechanism of conflict detection through visualization techniques, referring to relevant parts in relations to the whole building model. As BIM becomes more capable of handling more building information, this can help to save cost through reduction of risk and errors in time.


  • Integrating design process with construction and engineering: this can be achieved when a builder simulates a building before and during the actual construction process. 4D or 5D models which integrates time and cost in addition to the 3D geometry models. In this way, changes cannot only be controlled in the design and engineering stages, but can also be controlled to some extent in the built environment lifecycle. It is ideally suited on projects with high cost and high risk and which can lead to high rewards for mitigating those cost and risk. BIM with schedule and cost which when it is made accessible to all stake holders will foster communication and cooperation thereby ameliorating the risk of defragmentation among project actors.

On the other hand, a database of structured information is a sensible asset that can enhance the value of building. A real database of structured information also enables different parties to view the data from their own perspective. 

Mitigating risk in construction projects has been considered as an important attempt in order to achieve a project’s objective in terms of time, cost, quality, safety and sustainability. Risk has been identified as a combination of the probability of occurrence of a defined hazard and the magnitude of the consequences of the occurrence. Risk in construction may be influenced by either internal factors or external factors. While internal factors are project oriented and can be controlled by the project team, external factors cannot be controlled by the project team.  Finally, BIM has been identified as a sophisticated platform that will help in reducing risk in construction project, particularly in elimination of the common errors in the design management. Although, few researches have been conducted on how BIM will improve productivity in construction site, but more empirical findings are required to extensively find out how BIM may be practically be used to improve quality in construction projects.

 In summary, BIM creates opportunities `positive risk` for scenario planning and rapid prototyping to determine optimum design solutions while potentially shortening the design and construction schedule.


- Tardif, M. and Smith, D. K. (2009) Building Information Modeling: A Strategic Implementation Guide for Architects, Engineers, Constructors, and Real Estate Asset Managers. United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

-  Kamardeen, I. (2010) 8D BIM MODELLING TOOL FOR ACCIDENT PREVENTION THROUGH DESIGN. Available at: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2010-0281-0289_Kamardeen.pdf (Accessed: 29 August 2015).

- Hammad, D., Yahaya, M. and Rishi, A. (2012) MITIGATING CONSTRUCTION PROJECT RISK USING BUILDING INFORMATION MODELLING (BIM). Available at: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dabo_Hammad/publication/261136230_MITIGATING_CONSTRUCTION_PROJECT_RISK_USING_BUILDING_INFORMATION_MODELLING_(BIM)/links/0deec533504ad35311000000.pdf (Accessed: 1 September 2015).

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