In the near future project teams will be able to upload project BIM models to a portal that would automatically assess whether or not the design complies with Building Regulations, government BIM Task Group member Richard Saxon has told CM.
His prediction is based on a system that has operated in Singapore for 10 years, where software automatically checks whether BIM models meets the city-state’s design and safety criteria.
The process is entirely automated, with Singapore’s regulatory staff only becoming involved if an applicant is proposing to depart from the regulations in some away.
Saxon, a former chair of architect BDP and a BIM champion for the Construction Industry Council, said: “Building Regulations are based on rules, they’re prescriptive, so they lend themselves to being automated.
“We currently have 8,000 people checking Building Regulations, but that’s too few to deal with compliance problems. If we could get rid of the workload of pushing through applications, you could free up resources to deal with compliance.”
Saxon also added that information in the BIM model could also be used to satisfy the HSE’s notification procedures, or the local fire authority.
Asked about the likelihood of a similar system being adopted in the UK, Saxon said: “I’m currently working with BIS on the outputs of BIM – how the government could apply additional resources to get more out of what they’re already getting. So it’s moving on to the agenda, I expect it will be there in the New Year. ”
Kevin Dawson FCIOB, group manager for construction and compliance at Peterborough City Council, welcomed the idea of using BIM models for compliance checks. However, he stopped short of endorsing Saxon’s fully-automated system.
“There is potential for it, and there could be benefits of submitting BIM models – I know it’s an issue LABC has been looking at. The BIM model could certainly improve the quality of the information and details submitted, so that would help us deal with applications more quickly. But I don’t know about an automatic system.” He added that his team already accesses external portals to look at submitted drawings.
According to Saxon, the Singapore system highlights aspects of BIM that are often overlooked. “People tend to think of BIM as drawings, but actually it’s a nest of inter-connected information. The whole business of technical regulation – licensing, health and safety or building regulations – is rule-based, so BIM could re-shape the job of the regulator entirely, and allow people to deal with other issues.”