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  • Writer's pictureNhut Pham

The First Step into BIM.

When it comes to BIM, I easily get lost in all the fancy technical words and newest tech trends. And yet, there will always be new tech hype popping up, for sure.

But regardless, the key to making BIM work, is by taking care of only three basic tasks. The first one is always...

The First Step into BIM.

1. BIM Modeling

The ever beginning of applying BIM is to have a BIM model. A BIM model is nothing else than a computer file that contains building elements, like floors, walls, windows, etc. which are described by 3D graphics with additional information related to them, such as name, coordinates, and possibly time, cost, etc.

And that information is what sets a BIM model apart from any other 3D model.

A BIM model = building elements by 3D graphics + information (source:

There is an increasing number of modeling tools, such as Archicad, Revit, Tekla, Vectorworks, Allplan, and BlenderBIM, that can create and manipulate BIM models. Each of them has their own pros and cons, which make them suitable and therefore popular to general needs or a specific industry or domain.

You can either create a BIM model for yourself, or you can have it provided to you by other people. At first, you may need specialized professionals like BIM modelers/technicians to do this BIM modeling for you. But as more design architects and engineers become proficient with BIM modeling tools, they can also perform this task themselves!

Most common BIM modeling tools: Archicad, Revit, Tekla, Vectorworks, Allplan, and BlenderBIM

Think of BIM modeling as another way to produce building information, extracted from the imaginary design in your mind or captured from the as-built structure in reality.

In the traditional way, we have always been doing this by using 2D/3D CAD drawings to describe the geometric information. But for the non-geometric information, we either manually place texts & numbers on top of those drawings or put them inside a document or spreadsheet.

Now with a BIM model, the building information is recorded:

  • in a single place: one model to contain both geometric & non-geometric data (of course you can use multiple models if you prefer)

  • in a structured order: door info can only be put into doors, etc.

  • in a larger volume: a 20-story apartment can be represented by multi-discipline models, with a total of almost 20 thousand building elements (60% are MEPF items). Each of these contains 5 data fields, minimum. If you 'export' that building into an Excel file, you will get a spreadsheet of 5 fields x 20k elements = 100k data cells, at least!

Drawings have been the main & official product for a long time, while BIM models were considered an extra deliverable that is nice to have.

But things have changed. Now, BIM modeling has become the primary way to create building information. This information is then used to produce drawings.

So, it's no longer a side hustle. It's become an essential part of the workflow.

A BIM model can store a vast volume of building information (source: AGACAD)

As you can see, BIM Modeling is THE essential task for implementing BIM. If having no BIM models, how can you apply BIM?

But simply creating BIM models is not enough. BIM implementation actually costs you more… if you keep making models, in greater amounts & complexity, and then just leave them there.

To make BIM work for you, the next step is ultimately crucial: start using it.



Author: Nhut Pham

Visuals: Cuong Vo


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