Home > What is BIM? > BIM & Building life cycle

BIM & a Building’s life cycle

BIM is present in all phases of a building project, from program development to deconstruction.

In short, BIM makes it possible to maintain continuity throughout each life cycle:

  1. Programming phase
  2. Design phase
  3. Execution phase
  4. Management phase
  5. Renovation phase
  6. Demolition phase

The digital models created during these different phases provide exhaustive information to obtain a true virtual copy of the establishment.

1. Programming phase

This step is the moment for the client to pool the various pieces of information useful for the construction of a building:

  • Quantitative requirements: activities, spaces, and their properties (surfaces, heights, etc.), relationships between spaces, physical conditions (lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, acoustics, etc.).
  • Data concerning the site and its environment: topographical plan, town planning rules, geographical location, sunshine, cadastral information, etc.
  • Qualitative elements: so that the author of the project can get an idea of the subjective wishes of his client on the interior atmosphere, the layout of the spaces, etc.
  • Other more symbolic data: such as the expression of an identity of the structure constructed, for example.

To ensure that the future BIM model optimally meets the quantitative and qualitative requirements of the client, the ideal is to transmit as much data as possible in a format that can be directly integrated into the digital model.

This phase usually leads to a first sketch which can already be volumetric with a representation of the site and volumes capable of the project.

2. Design and study phase

This phase includes pre-project studies (APS-APD-DPC), project (PRO) and the business consultation file (DCE).

By developing a 3D digital model, the project management (architect and design office) can consider and integrate the needs of the project owner. In addition to the geometry of the project, all data on materials, physical and mechanical properties, etc.

Once enriched with all this data, this digital model then becomes a BIM model, the collaboration tool par excellence for all the partners in the act of building.

At this stage, BIM makes it possible to carry out various simulations, to control the quality of the coordination between the various construction techniques, to carry out budget and deadline studies.

3. Execution and implementation plan

At this stage of the project, it is all the expertise of the companies involved that is included in the digital model, which will become the execution or construction plan for the site.

This new BIM model allows the precise calculation of quantities, the development of quality execution plans, the integration of phasing and budget in real time … facilitating the management of orders, deliveries, statements, and reports to measure the progress as the work advances.
By integrating all the execution documents (EXE) as well as the documents of the work carried out (DOE) at the end of the construction site, we obtain an “as-build” BIM model, available for the operation of the building.

Monitoring and management on site in augmented reality

BIM can be accompanied by digital tools such as tablets or “augmented reality” type glasses to superimpose the physical site with the virtual BIM model.
Three-dimensional scanning also combines perfectly with BIM. It consists of scanning all or part of a construction work and comparing it with the digital model. It is then possible to check the tolerances before applying finishing touches, for example.

4. Management, operation, and maintenance phase

The cost of a building is not limited to its construction. In fact, over a lifespan varying from 30 to 50 years, 75% of its overall cost derives from its operation.

BIM for Management, Operation and Maintenance (or BIM GEM) covers a whole series of operations, including:

  • the optimization of the technical functioning of the building: optimization of water and electricity consumption, etc.
  • building maintenance: technical diagnostics, preventive maintenance
  • the management of the various sub-spaces of the building: rental, inventory, etc.
  • financial management: expenditure planning,
  • dissemination of information to the public who will use the building.

In short, the BIM model allows the optimization of the maintainability of infrastructures, crucial at all levels.

The digital reflection of the building

For the BIM operating model to be truly effective, it cannot rely solely on the design model. This must be enriched with all the reliable data from the files of the works executed (or as-build) to become the reflection of the building, with updates throughout its life cycle.

It is by maintaining a real-time link between the physical and digital worlds, thanks to the permanent synchronization of data, that the BIM GEM model can evolve into a true “digital twin” of the establishment.

This digital twin can, for example, provide real-time monitoring of occupancy and use of building spaces to help reduce costs for lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), everything by providing information for a better use of space.

5. Building renovation phase

Any rehabilitation project requires a prior assessment of the necessary budget and the risks that stakeholders are likely to face during the completion of the renovation work.

In the case of interior fittings, the “as-build” BIM model allows the client, architects, and design offices to identify the electricity, plumbing or fluid networks easily.

Stakeholders also have reliable information on structural elements and construction procedures in the case of more serious renovations.

The BIM digital model is ideal for performing as many simulations as needed by varying multiple parameters. Thanks to precise and reliable results, architects and design offices are able to choose the optimal scenario, which maximizes the chances of success.

In the case of renovations of existing projects without the availability of BIM models, the use of the “Scan to BIM” process and point clouds is an effective technology, because it avoids taking manual measurements which are very often approximate and inaccurate.

6. Demolition of a BIM building

A BIM model can also be very useful before the demolition of a building. This contains all the information concerning the materials, the construction elements used as well as their location.

It is then possible to organize and plan their dismantling, to assess recycling opportunities, the constraints related to disposal, while allowing their traceability. The materials from the establishment to be deconstructed are then reinjected into a circular economy cycle when possible.

Deconstruction & Recovery Information Modeling (DRIM)

This concept, already developed in England, is part of the desire for sustainable demolition: selective deconstruction, reuse of materials, materials database …