‘Construction and clients need to pick up pace on BIM!’ says NFB

A survey of clients undertaken by the National Federation of Builders (NFB) to follow its earlier survey of the construction industry, has found that neither contractors or clients are prepared or ready enough for the advent of BIM (Building Information Modelling).

The NFB Client Survey was launched at the beginning of 2013 and sought to better understand clients’ views and needs around BIM. The early findings of this survey closely follow the recent launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy for Construction – A Vision for 2025. The NFB survey findings echo the view of the strategy that progress towards a BIM-ready industry is slow – and the challenges and therefore opportunities for construction clients and the supply chain are vast.

The NFB survey’s key initial findings reveal that:

There is not a great deal of difference between the contracting sector and the client sector in terms of readiness or current use of BIM.

Over half of clients reported that they expected potential businesses that they contract with to have BIM as a core competency. Many, however, highlighted a need for themselves to understand BIM before they could expect potential contractors to have the competency. Both sectors perceive the potential benefits of BIM.

The overwhelming majority of clients responding to the survey said that they had not yet asked about BIM experience in PQQ or ITT when procuring suppliers.

When asked when they planned to adopt BIM processes on their projects, 30 per cent were looking at the next three months; 40 per cent within six months and almost 50 per cent in the coming year. Overall, the majority (62 per cent) would be adopting BIM within 2 years.

In 2012 the NFB published their report BIM: Ready or Not? The report was based on an industry wide survey which set out to assess the BIM readiness of the contracting sector with a particular focus on small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). At the time, the survey confirmed that the industry did indeed have a giant leap to make to achieve the government mandate of BIM Level 2 as a minimum on all government funded projects by 2016, highlighting in particular the issues for smaller businesses. In addition the results of the survey pointed towards clients as potentially lacking a drive towards implementing BIM and there was a cynicism across the SME sector that BIM would be adopted by local authorities and procurement hubs, very often their traditional marketplace. As a result contractors seemed less inclined to invest in training to develop their own capabilities.

The results of that survey were used by the NFB to develop a programme of support for its members and the wider industry, to help them to upskill and work towards becoming BIM ready. However the NFB also set out to test the hypothesis that clients were reluctant, or lacking the knowledge, to become BIM ready themselves. In summary, this interim report from the survey indicates that:

There is not a substantial difference between the contracting and public client sector in terms of BIM readiness and use.

A lack of understanding is a barrier to both demand and adoption of BIM.

Both sectors perceive the potential benefits of BIM.

A wider adoption of BIM is needed across industry, not just the contracting sector – which clients appear to be more prepared for.

The NFB Client Survey is still open and the NFB is keen for more clients to complete the questionnaire before it publishes its final report in the autumn of this year. Clients are asked to contact the Training Team on 0845 057 0041 for details of how to take part in this survey.

The full interim report of the NFB Client Survey is available on the NFB Training website www.nfbtraining.co.uk