BIM is becoming more and more accepted in the construction industry, to the point where it is now starting to be used in all areas of contracting – such as fit-out and facilities management as well. However, as with most digital tools, adoption is slow, and so we have written this article to give contractors a deeper understanding of how the BIM tool works, depending on the project.

So, what is the difference between mainstream construction and the fit-out sector? Well, with construction you are working on a new-build and everything is under your control. You start from the design stage and have a clear understanding of where potential hurdles may crop up – and so you can remove them before construction starts.

Fit-out work is completely different to new-build construction, as it is highly unlikely that the fit-out will take place in a space that has never before been used. Therefore, you will be working on either a building that has been around for some time and needs refurbishing, or a building that has been refurbished, potentially numerous times, before. Both of these situations bring with them an entirely new set of challenges.

There are also different ways of using BIM (building information modelling) and this needs careful consideration right at the start of the project. There are various different dimensions of BIM, and these are as follows:

  • 3D BIM – the shared information model
  • 4D BIM – construction sequencing
  • 5D BIM – cost information
  • 6D BIM – project lifecycle information

For general construction, 4D and 5D BIM tend to be the most used as they focus on the construction programme and cost information. Whereas the fit-out sector relies more on 3D and 6D BIM to bring more value.

The 3D aspects of BIM help with clash detection and coordination by minimising inaccuracies in the model – making sure that the job is done right the first time, without revisions. 6D takes into account the holistic view of the whole building and can sync with the building’s own management systems.

BIM for fit-out

We know ourselves that many contractors find BIM a very different way of working. The adoption of BIM by the whole industry will require great focus by the main contractor, as they will provide the vital link between the client, the subcontractors, and the rest of the professional team. The whole team will need to be in agreement and aligned from the outset, and so there needs to be a certain amount of training given to all contractors to make sure that everything progresses on time, and on budget.

Looking back to the 1980s, architectural drawings were moved from tracing paper and ink pens to online electronic drawings and AutoCAD. There was some resistance to this, of course, as while people were getting used to drawing electronically, it was still quicker to draw by hand. However, over time this has changed, and the same will be true for BIM adoption.

The benefits of BIM for fit-out

So why all the fuss about BIM, and what benefits does it bring to fit-out projects? Well, it tends to bring the same benefits as it does to general construction – cost savings, improved health and safety, and sustainability. The fit-out contractors that we have worked with already have definitely found that by using BIM to create an accurate model, they have seen massive improvements on site – especially when it comes to installation and construction sequences.

The biggest opportunity for the fit-out sector is improved asset management, as before the introduction of BIM, there wasn’t really an appropriate way to link fit-out work to building management systems. With BIM, this link is easily put into place, and everyone can then access the essential information about all of the necessary services – from air quality control to electrics.

If you would like to find out more about The CAD Room’s BIM Services and how this can help with your next fit-out project, then please get in touch with the team on 0161 427 0348 or email us at