Building Information Modeling for Owners


BIM is now in widespread use worldwide, with multiple applications and documented projects. A 2014 study by Dodge Data & Analytics and McGraw-Hill Construction entitled The business value of BIM for owners reports that 65 per cent of private sector owners and  70 per cent of public sector owners in the UK require the use of BIM in new projects. This is in stark contrast to the USA, where BIM is only required by 30 per cent of public sector and 11 per cent of private sector owners. As for the impact of national directives on owners, the study shows that 67 per cent of UK owners accept BIM, compared with only 12 per cent of USA owners.

The study stresses that building owners derive the greatest benefit from the BIM process: ‘architectural companies, through BIM simulation, have better communication with the customer’; this helps fulfil clients’ needs.

Furthermore, the study notes that ‘contractors have two important advantages, the spatial coordination of the construction that decreases errors and repetition and the digital construction model that increases speed and quality’. BIM construction helps the owner to receive the building in time and in budget.  

In 2007, Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE) completed a survey of 32 ΒΙΜ projects and identified a number of benefits of BIM:

  • 40 percent reduction in changes during construction
  • accurate cost estimates, up to 3 per cent
  • 80 per cent reduction in the time taken to estimate construction costs
  • 10 per cent time saving through clash detection
  • 7 per cent reduction in design–construction time

Autodesk claims that the improper use of building data and inefficient project teams cost $15.8 million annually, two thirds of which is paid by owners. More than 60 per cent of the capital invested in construction fails to meet scheduled repayment dates. Thirty per cent of construction is repetitive, while 55 per cent of building management remains inoperative following completion. The study identifies a number of benefits of BIM, including improvements in the quality of construction, reductions in the cost of building management, clarity in relation to building plans from the inception to the completion of projects, and improved efficiency in the use of buildings.

Dodge Data and Analytics and Skanska’s 2015 study entitled Measuring the impact of BIM on complex buildings shows that two thirds of complex-building owners consider BIM to be a great tool for communication, and 91 per cent believes that the tool results in improved contact with the project team at all stages. Ninety per cent of such owners believe that BIM offers better documentation, and 88 per cent regard the overall quality of BIM construction as superior.


During the process of designing, constructing and managing a project using BIM, the owner benefits from a number of advantages which can be used to understand, communicate regarding, and monitor the progress of the project.

During BIM design, an accurate building database is formed (containing digital models, documents and analysis) that provides both a precise representation of the building at any point in its design, and information about the building’s function and features. The 3D renderings that are used in the digital model design help owners to clearly communicate with the design team. In CAD technology, such 3D views were a costly process both in terms of time and capital. In contrast, BIM incorporates them into the process from the outset. The transition from CAD to BIM enables owners to request any information they desire and to easily understand it by means of digital 3D models (see image 2). One excellent example of the benefits digital models bring to the design process is the SaRang Community Church in Seoul, designed by the Beck Group. The design team generated 100 digital models to create a curved surface from flat glass parts, saving $1 million on the construction of the building facade and 1000 design hours.   

The adoption of an energy consumption strategy and building energy analysis in the early design phase is another important feature of the BIM process. The Sustainability Base at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley used BIM as a tool to analyse various sustainable features, including an exoskeleton frame, geothermal energy, natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic roofs. The integration of sustainable strategies in the BIM process led to excellent sustainable design solutions that were visible to the owner from an early stage.

During construction, the benefits of BIM to the owner are found in the direct relationship between the digital model and the ‘live’ construction model on site. One of the most fundamental problems encountered in the construction of buildings construction is lack of organisation and conflicting parallel works that lead to on-site delays and errors. Through BIM, on-site errors and omissions are reduced by means of the ‘class detection’ process, which detects errors, and the ‘clash coordination’ process, which solves those errors. In this way, BIM design offers accurate cost predictions and ensures the delivery of the project on time and within budget. In addition, it allows the owner to participate in design decisions and influence the construction cost at every stage of the project.

A good example of BIM’s time-saving capabilities is the MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, Maine. The building design was based on BIM technology and was delivered 10 months earlier than projected, saving about $20 million.  

In relation to building management, after construction completion, BIM is also a powerful tool with which to analyse systems, materials and building use, which can significantly reduce operating costs and flag necessary maintenance to the building’s systems. For instance, the General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency of the US government, is in the process of developing a 3D digital database for all public buildings. These models will integrate all information related to the security, management and analysis of public building stock (see image 5). The GSA’s use of BIM is discussed in more detail in the Case Studies section below.

Similarly, Newcastle’s Northumbria University used BIM protocols for the simulation of 32 buildings, with an area in excess of 120,000 square feet (see image 6). The BIM digital models were designed on the basis of existing CAD files and provide access to information that could be used to analyse and document a building’s operating conditions, like 3D visuals that facilitate communication and building management.

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