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

21 June 2021

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 building in safety upfront into a building’s design and construction, 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, leading to efficiencies for housing associations developing and maintaining homes, and potentially greater satisfaction among 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 supports housing associations to digitise their development and asset information.

To help housing associations along their BIM journeys, 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. For housing associations using the toolkit, BIM4HAs has created a forum where users can share their experiences, ask questions and provide feedback.

This toolkit is now free for anyone to use. It includes:

  • Scopes of Services
    • A matrix of tasks to define your strategy and then to deliver a development project.
    • Written for insertion into appointments and contracts.
  • Asset Information Requirements (AIRs)
    • Define what is needed for safety, compliance, asset management and repairs.
    • Includes an example Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) sheet for building and component data.
  • Exchange Information Requirements (EIRs)
    • Sets out the ‘how’.
    • Includes an example Master Information Delivery Plan (MIDP)
  • Organisation Information Requirements (OIRs)
    • Describes the information required by an organisation for asset management systems and other functions.
  • Guidance
    • Outlines how to use the items in the toolkit.
  • BIM for Existing Buildings
    • a report by asset managers on digitising existing asset information.

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

  • The MHCLG 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.

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.

You can also watch the recording of the BIM4HAs launch event to find out more about using the toolkit and how it might benefit your organisation.

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 below or email will then receive an email inviting you to join the forum.

Download the toolkit


Apply to join the forum


Watch the launch event


Who to speak to

UK BIM Alliance