Building Information Modelling (BIM): what is it and how can it help housing associations?

10 August 2022

What is Building Information Modelling?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process for creating and managing digital information throughout the lifetime of a building.

BIM provides a digitised record of information about every component of a building in one place, enabling everyone involved to view updated and accurate information at key stages of a project, including when a building is occupied.

BIM has been recommended by Dame Judith Hackitt as an effective way of incorporating building safety into the design and construction from the outset, as well as enabling an evidence base to support safety while a building is occupied. BIM can therefore support the construction, handover and management of safer, higher quality buildings, supporting housing associations to be compliant, intelligent and more efficient when developing and maintaining homes, potentially providing greater satisfaction for the residents living in them.

What is BIM for Housing Associations?

BIM for Housing Associations (BIM4HAs) is a joint project between housing associations and industry specialists, supported by the NHF. Established in 2018, BIM4HAs provides free resources to support housing associations to digitise their development and asset information.

BIM4HAs Toolkit

To help housing associations implement BIM, BIM4HAs has developed a free toolkit which takes the housing association sector through how to use BIM as a tool to deliver safe, high-quality and well-managed buildings.

The toolkit provides a suggested mechanism whereby housing associations can digitise their development and asset information, and manage vital information about their buildings, and has now been updated to include a new Asset Information Model.

For housing associations using the toolkit, BIM4HAs has also created a forum where housing associations can share their experiences, ask questions and provide feedback.

This BIM4HAs Toolkit is free for anyone to use. It includes:

  • Scopes of Services
    • A matrix of tasks which helps you to define your strategy, and describes who needs to do what, and when.
    • Written and designed to be inserted into appointments and contracts.
  • Asset Information Requirements (AIR)
    • Define at the outset what you’ll need to know in the future for safety, compliance, asset management and repairs.
    • Includes an example Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) sheet which provides asset information for building and components in a transferable format.
  • Exchange Information Requirements (EIR)
    • Sets out how information needs to be delivered on a project.
    • Includes an example Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP) which sets out what level of information is needed, who provides it, and when.
  • Organisation Information Requirements (OIR)
    • Describes the high-level information required by an organisation for asset management systems and other functions.
  • Asset Information Model (NEW)
    • A data model of the information needed to support strategic and day-to-day asset management processes, and the relationships between that data.
  • Housing Association Data Dictionary (NEW)
    • An introduction to the new Data Dictionary project that BIM4HAs are running to produce a set of agreed terms for the key data housing associations need about the components in their buildings.
  • Guidance
    • Outlines how to use the items in the Toolkit.
  • BIM for Existing Buildings
    • A report by asset managers on digitising existing asset information.

Join the launch webinar on Thursday 8 September at 1pm to find out more about using the toolkit and how it might benefit your organisation.

Register now.

BIM4HAs Toolkit v2 update

An updated version of the BIM4HAs Toolkit is now available.

What’s new?

Asset Information Model

This brand new addition to the Toolkit provides a blueprint to help housing associations manage information about their buildings in a reliable and structured way in accordance with the Principles of the Golden Thread.

Find out more about the Golden Thread.

The Asset Information Model enables different software platforms to work together and can be used to evaluate existing software or commission new software.

It standardises the relationships between pieces of data such as the information about buildings, the components in them, and how they are managed.

The Asset Information Model has seven sections:

  • Spatial hierarchy to identify buildings and parts of the building.
  • Components and systems which classify all the items a housing association has control over in every building, and how they interact.
  • Spatial reference to identify where a component is located.
  • Work orders which classify both scheduled and reactive work carried out on buildings and components.
  • Component actions which log all actions taken upon components.
  • Relevant parties which tracks people and organisations who have or may carry out work on buildings and components.
  • Documentation to track documentation supporting the rest of the model, and where it is physically located.

The Asset Information Model is the key addition to this update, representing around £250,000 investment by Southern Housing Group. The model was validated by BIM4HAs members and donated to BIM4HAs so it is free to use by anyone.

The model was made with the Golden Thread in mind and designed to map to established data standards including the Housing Associations' Charitable Trust Housing Data Standards (HACT) and Industry Foundation Class (IFC).

To find out more about how the new Asset Information Model works and how it can be used to evaluate your existing software platforms and asset information structures, watch the introductory explainer video by Jack Ostrofsky, Chair of BIM4HAs.

Other key updates

  • Updates to the Asset Information Requirements to comply with updates to the UK BIM Framework.
  • An updated spreadsheet of asset information which includes the key components housing associations should manage information about, in COBie format.
  • Details of a new Housing Association Data Dictionary which provides key information about components such as what attributes of a fire door set or sprinkler system need recording in your database.
  • Minor updates to other documents, release notes and an updated Guidance Document.

How to get involved

The toolkit and its supporting documents are free to download and use. We recommend that you read the guidance and the disclaimers alongside the toolkit and its supporting documents.

Join the launch webinar on Thursday 8 September at 1pm to find out more about using the toolkit and how it might benefit your organisation. Register now.

Get involved by following BIM4HAs on Twitter or LinkedIn to hear news, information and the latest updates.

Sign up to join the BIM4HAs forum

BIM4HAs has also set up a forum to support housing associations using the toolkit. The forum supports housing associations looking to use BIM, providing opportunities to learn from fellow professionals in housing and BIM, share experiences, questions and feedback, and stay abreast of updates.

To join the forum, which is hosted on Microsoft Teams, please complete the form via the link at the bottom of the page or get in touch via email. You will then receive an email inviting you to join the forum.

BIM4HAs is working in partnership with the National Housing Federation and the UK BIM Alliance. BIM4HAs is also a participant in:

  • The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Golden Thread Initiative, a government initiative bringing together industry professionals who will collaborate to demonstrate that it is possible to provide a standardised digital Golden Thread of building safety information to the satisfaction of the Building Safety Regulator.
  • The Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) Golden Thread Working Group who are assisting with rewriting the Building Regulations Approved Document B.
  • The Housing Association Charitable Trust (HACT) in its development of a Housing Asset Data Dictionary, part of the UK’s first Housing Data Standard.

Download the toolkit


Apply to join the forum


Join the launch event

Register now

BIM4HAs in the news

Who to speak to

UK BIM Alliance