The NBS BIM Toolkit evolution


Stephen Hamil, Director of Design and Innovation at the NBS, outlines how the NBS BIM Toolkit has been received around the country and what happens next

Back in 2010, I remember listening to Paul Morrell, the then chief construction adviser, present the government’s Construction Strategy and being inspired by the radical vision of the part Building Information Modelling (BIM) would play in transforming the construction industry.

To think that now, nearly four years on, NBS is in a position to complete Level 2 BIM, and in advance of the government’s 2016 deadline for its use on public sector projects, is very exciting.

In the last issue of Planning and Building Control Today, I explained how the necessary pieces in the Level 2 BIM jigsaw are moving into place, with the development and impending ‘soft launch’ of the NBS BIM Toolkit.

To recap, the Toolkit is a web-based resource, tailor-made to guide users through the construction process. At the heart of the project is a standardised and digitally-enabled classification system coupled with a level-of-definition reference library and digital plan of work tool.

Combined, these have the power to transform the delivery of construction projects for all disciplines and across all scales of projects; from large infrastructure schemes to small, domestic scale works.

Given the confusion that still remains over what Level 2 BIM actually means or constitutes, the completion of such a defining suite of documents is critical to further BIM adoption and the enhanced building design and delivery this will bring.

The NBS-led team has been working hard to ensure the BIM Toolkit is easy to use and offers step-by-step support to define, manage and verify responsibility for information development and delivery at each stage of the asset lifecycle.

Whilst the NBS BIM Toolkit is being delivered by NBS in conjunction with colleagues from BIM Academy, BDP, Laing O’Rourke, Mott MacDonald, Microsoft, Newcastle University and RICS, its development has benefitted from input from a wide range of construction industry professionals.

Over the first few months of the project, the team consulted with architects, clients, contractors, engineers, manufacturers and facility managers and latterly, over the last month, the NBS BIM Toolkit has been taken on the road around the UK in association with the UK Government’s BIM Task Group’s BIM Hubs.

In addition to demonstrations at major industry events such as Ecobuild, these free events have provided construction professionals in all regions of the UK with an early opportunity to preview and comment on the Toolkit.

Feedback has been invaluable and a number of recurring themes have emerged. For example, it is clear that Level 2 BIM is not just about design but managing the entire information set. Yes, graphical representations of doors or boilers are important, but equally so is the documentation of a solid brief, the clear allocation of tasks and responsibilities and any results of the consultation process.

The importance of the early stages (0 & 1) in the new plan of work has also been made clear; making sure you are thinking strategically before thinking about the products. Above all though, these various events have made the team more certain than ever that the Toolkit has the very real potential to transform the procurement of buildings and infrastructure by defining and testing the BIM data required at each stage of the project.

With this in mind, we are very excited about moving the NBS BIM Toolkit website from private beta to public beta, at which time the industry can actually start using the Toolkit on its Level 2 BIM projects.

This ‘soft launch’ of the Toolkit will happen on April 8th to coincide with BIM Show Live, one of the UK’s leading BIM events, to be held in Manchester.

In addition to a wealth of technical content, users will be able to access a support area that will include a series of articles providing expert advice on a range of relevant subjects such as; the concept behind Level 2 BIM, the levels of definition for construction objects and how to develop employer’s information requirements.

Free-to-use, the NBS BIM Toolkit will empower all parts of the construction industry.

Clients and managers of assets will be able to comprehensively define information requirements to ensure their needs are met and better project outcomes are guaranteed.

Design and construction teams will be able to assemble a team with clearly assigned roles and responsibilities to work collaboratively on their Level 2 BIM projects.

Finally, manufacturers will be able to provide digital information quickly and easily to specifiers on thousands of construction projects.

In summary, by proving the answer to achieving Level 2 BIM, the Toolkit will immediately start solving some of the problems the construction industry has struggled to overcome by moving it from an analogue system of working into a digital world.

It will also ensure that the UK construction industry capitalises on the clarity of its public sector vision for BIM. A unique vision that is increasingly being followed by the private sector and a digital approach that will put the UK in a position of worldwide leadership.

To create your first BIM Toolkit project, go to

Stephen Hamil

Director of Design and Innovation NBS (National Building Specification)

Tel: 0345 456 9594


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