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Why contractors need common standards in BIM

Countries encouraging common BIM standards are producing better buildings, quicker. Hear what standards can do for improved project management and design.

4 min read


Why contractors need common standards in BIM

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This post is sponsored by U.S. CAD

While the gradual adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems continues among contractors, there is a new push to standardize it. Most notably, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2019 called for BIM standards.

To better understand this issue, SmartBrief sat down with U.S. CAD Senior Technical Specialist Andrell Laniewicz, a  virtual design and construction veteran of nine years. She counsels clients on how to improve workflows, bid proposals, and project efficiencies. Here Laniewicz explains why, increasingly, just using BIM won’t be enough. 

Andrell Laniewicz

What’s driving the recent international call for common BIM standards?

Need. With major projects incorporating firms from around the world, standards must be uniform. Similar to how the founding of the AIA standards for AutoCAD was able to make it easier for national companies to communicate, global standards will provide the same thing: clearer communication. Many countries or national institutions are hesitating to take on this challenge, which is part of why the call is becoming more international. 

We’re finding more and more that countries with these standards are producing better buildings, quicker. The need for standards means that the end product/deliverable will be attained faster, at higher quality, and be able to be used in the future for other endeavors (operations, renovations, etc). 

How do standards help facilitate communication among stakeholders?

Communication is helped by clear information. If a stakeholder needs to know a piece of information, the less time they spend hunting for it, the faster they can resolve an issue. If each firm is naming items differently, a stakeholder may go look for information and find the incorrect information. This can lead to delays, bad calls, or more serious project impacts. If you cannot communicate on the same page, you cannot build the same building.

Can using common standards help contractors win business?

Yes and no. If you have repeat clients, then without a doubt, yes. Newer clients might need to be sold on why these standards are a good thing. It won’t be a hard sell, but it still might require some effort. And if a client uses a different standard, then your standards are not helpful. Which is exactly why we want agnostic standards!

Some contractors refer to BIM guidelines. Are they the same?

BIM guidelines – to quote a Pirate of the Caribbean meme A BIM Execution Plan is “more like a set of guidelines than rules”. Until we get the legal precedence on these – and not just mediation rulings – we are going to have a hard time getting guidelines to be taken seriously. And that includes standards. As for if they are the same thing, it depends on who you talk to, but I would say no.

Guidelines are BIM XP’s – they control things around the process: What will be modeled, who will ‘own’ which parts of the models, and what software will be used.

BIM standards are more what data would be there. If you’re modeling electrical, you need to make sure it always has the volts in the data and the volts should be in format X and labeled Y.

How best can emerging technologies or features be incorporated in complex structures?

Emerging technologies have their place. Test, pilot, evaluate, customize, implement. If you have standards and a good routine, you can become complacent or have a large ship that is hard to turn. Luckily we already have many examples of companies with well-established technology solutions being able to successfully implement new solutions. It is a slow process but proven. Innovate or be the second-lowest ranking digitized industry forever.


Andrell Laniewicz, Senior Technical Specialist, U.S. CAD

Andrell Laniewicz has worked in the VDC world since 2011. During this time, she has been involved in everything from Model Coordination, 4D, 5D, and Quantification to Proposals, Site Logistics, and more. At U.S. CAD, Andrell works with clients to evaluate their existing workflows, implement solutions and technology, and provide training to get clients to their ultimate end goal. She focuses on Revit, Navisworks, BIM 360, FormIt, and MSuite within Architecture, Construction, and Fabrication. She has her Certificate of Management in Building Information Modeling from AGC of DC.