The UK Government is pushing BIM in the construction sector, with the hope that the combination of improved collaboration and technology will help construction companies to manage their projects more efficiently while complying with both budget and time constraints.

However, many companies fail to realise that the BIM life cycle becomes almost useless if surveying is taken out of the equation (or brought in too late, as often happens).  Don’t get us wrong, it can be useful to have a structure in place that makes use of BIM to deliver the project on time and within budget, but if any of the components used are in the wrong position then the consequences can be dire.

It may sound obvious, but construction sites are usually situated on land – which will throw up both positional and topographical challenges – which come under the remit of a surveyor. Therefore, if BIM is to reach its full potential, surveyors need to be involved in the process as early as possible – so that their geospatial knowledge and provision of reliable and accurate data can be fed into the project right from the beginning.

Location is key

If you look at any accomplished construction project ever, you will see that location is critical to the success of the build – but it is often taken for granted. At its most basic level, pairing surveying with BIM means that everything will be put in the right place. On top of this, however, is the fact that surveyors can play a key role in the successful management of construction projects as they can provide accurate location-based data right through the whole project – from conception to demolition – ensuring maximum precision at all stages.

This means everyone involved in the project can rest assured that not only is every part of the structure where it should be but that errors and inefficiencies have also been avoided. Integrating surveying services and BIM services also mean that digitally connected communities will be created, underpinning the foundation of location-based models.

What benefits can Surveyors bring to the BIM life cycle?

  • Strategy Stage. Involving a surveyor at this first stage of the project means you will be able to access geospatial information right from the get-go, giving you a full overview of the project as well as a definition of the coordination scheme.
  • Briefing Stage. As the project progresses, a surveyor can provide you with feasibility studies, site information reviews and terrestrial data – enabling smarter strategic decisions to be made. This data will also ensure that the plans being drawn up will work with the existing site conditions.
  • Concept Stage. The Surveyor can look over the concept design and provide you with their suggestions for alterations to the brief, based on unclear data or errors resulting from field mistakes. They can highlight any initial contractor mistakes and detect geospatial design flaws – allowing time estimates to be updated.
  • Definition Stage. Once the concept has been approved and design is being prepared, the surveyor will be able to ensure project elements are in a suitable format for survey tasks. The survey data can be easily added to the common data environment (CDE) and the data is fit for purpose for the end-user.
  • Design Stage. Once the technical design is prepared, the surveyor can check and confirm that the technical data provided is suitable for survey work and the survey data collected is being used to update the technical design. This means that there will be a continuous “as-built” view of the site as it is being prepared, allowing for closer site control.
  • Build and Construction Stage. Surveyors can help to resolve design queries from the construction site by ensuring contractors are using correct coordination and by feeding back regular “as-built” data to the CDE to minimise design failure creep.
  • Conclusion and Handover Stage. Once the building is complete and handed over, surveyors can re-establish suitable control points if the on-site facilities manager wants to use geospatial data for navigation.
  • Operation Stage. While the building is being used, surveyors can locate services in the site coordinate system, and provide data updates so that site data can be maintained.

Surveyors can help to unleash the power of BIM

A crucial part of the life cycle of any structure is precise measurement, and this is exactly the skill that a surveyor is known for. As we have outlined above though, the role of a surveyor in a BIM project is much more than just supplying accurate measurements, they are vital to the short and long-term success of the project.

Surveys are a key driving element of the entire BIM process, which is why we are delighted to be able to offer our clients a wide range of surveying services on top of our existing BIM services. To see what our surveying team can do, please get in touch with us today. You can call us on 0161 427 0348 or email us at if you prefer.