Level 1 BIM – the forgotten first step


“Level 2 BIM” is the most talked about term in the UK when it comes to BIM and its impact and implications are now being discussed further afield. This challenging goal has been around since 2011 so the UK will have had 5 years to reach that target. Of course this period does also include developing all the standards, protocols and processes that make up “Level 2 BIM”.

So April 2016 is now only 6 months away and many are well on with their journeys to Level 2. Yet some are yet to start on their own journeys, in my view, mostly held back by a fear of change and perhaps daunted by the plethora of detailed information and documents as well as the numerous BIM events, conferences and publications.

However in order to reach Level 2 it is crucial to be able to deliver the requirements of “Level 1 BIM” as an organisation first. Many in the UK have not even reached this level yet. So this post is really for those taking their first steps with BIM implementation and understanding.

What is “Level 1 BIM”?

“Level 1 BIM” is defined as “seperate sources of information covering the range of asset information in semi-structured electronic documents” (Source: PAS 1192-5 Figure 1 – BIM maturity levels).

BS 7004-2013 also states that Level 1 is “Managed CAD: in 2D or 3D format using BS 1192, with a collaboration tool providing a common data environment, possibly some standard data structures and formats. Commercial data managed by stand-alone finance and cost management packages with no integration.”

Who does “Level 1 BIM” apply to?

Well this is pretty easy. It’s for everyone involved in producing, maintaining, managing and using information. So whether you are a designer, manufacturer or sub-contractor producing drawings, a project manager producing reports, a cost manager producing a cost plan, a consultant producing a report or a facilities manager managing information received from others, “Level 1 BIM” is for you.

For simplicity I would say ignore the ‘B’ and the ‘M’ and simply think of BIM as all about the INFORMATION. Even at Level 1 you will have information even if they are “seperate sources of information covering the range of asset information in semi-structured electronic documents”.

I prefer to refer to the BIM acronym as Better Information Management. A model is a vehicle for information but too many think BIM only affects those modelling or interacting with models. This is an incorrect assumption. If you are creating or receiving any information for a project, then BIM is for you. So adapting a business to meet the BIM challenge means making a start somewhere and that somewhere is with aligning your approach with “Level 1 BIM” principles.

“Level 1 BIM” documentation

The following 3 documents * are identified in the Bew-Richards diagram published in PAS 1192-5:2015 (Figure 1 – BIM maturity levels) and BS 7000-4:2013 (Figure 1 Maturity model showing standards and guidance applicable) to support a “Level 1 BIM” approach:

* Note: That the documents identify BS 1192:2007 but an update was published in October 2015 (+A1) and then subsequently in April 2016 (+A2).

1. BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information. Code of practice.


Image: BS 1192:2007+A2:2016

Note: this document was updated in April 2016 and replaces the October 2015 (+A1) and original 2007 version.

This document is a FREE download so there is no excuse for not looking at this!

Key aspects that this document covers are:

  • Standard process and structure of a Common Data Environment (CDE) *
  • Standard file naming convention
  • Standard container naming convention (which includes layering)
  • Standard revision coding convention
  • Standard status coding convention
  • Standard suitability description convention

BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 is available to download here.

The document is supported by a guide (although the guide was written for the 2007 version), which is paid for, but only costs £32 and is available from here for purchase.

Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need your own Common Data Environment (CDE). For years CDEs have been implemented (in some form or another), particularly by main contractors, to manage project information. Whilst a business might not need their own CDE, thinking about how you centralise and manage your information should be part of your thinking with “Level 1 BIM”. This is largely of course common sense for any business.

* Other similar terms that have been used to describe CDEs are Project Extranets or Electronic Data Management Systems (EDMS). The key difference that BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 covers is the process of passing information around the 4 core areas: Work In Progress (WIP), Shared, Published and Archived, using a standardised process.

For the record we noticed the following errors in the  A1 update: (these have been corrected in the A2 version)

  • 8.2.2 (page 18) has a code of ’00 All zones’ but zones were replaced by volumes/systems in the update. This code should read ’00 All volumes/systems’.
  • 8.3.2 (page 19) appears twice. Second entry should have been deleted as still refers to “zone” and “asset”.
  • Table 4 (page 16) file name example includes a code of Z1 but this should be V1.
  • 9.2 (page 20) SC Structural Calculations changed to CA Calculations but code appears out of alphabetical sequence.
  • 9.2 (page 20) none of the additional codes and changes to codes are noted as A1 except for survey.
  • Table 5 (page 24) none of the A1 changes are noted (except in the List of tables at the beginning of the document).
  • C.2 (page 30) refers to BS 1192:2007 layers except this document is now withdrawn?
  • (pages 32 and 33) there are now 2 blank pages (previously 1 to create even number of pages for printing) at the end of the document. Both pages should have been removed as creates a waste of paper if printed.

2. BS 7000-4:2013 Design management systems. Part 4. Guide to managing design in construction.


Image: BS 7000-4:2013

This document is a paid for document. It is available for purchase here.

Key aspects are:

  • A framework for design management and includes: formation and management of the design team, responsibilities, establishing the brief, project planning, process planning, programming, classification, project communications and costs to the client/employer.
  • Design resource management and includes: staff resource, innovation and value management (VM), technical information, manual, CAD and BIM production, records management, technical equipment, procuring design, surveying and other related services, extracting data requirements, intellectual property and copyright.
  • Design process management and includes: re-commission review, design brief, design stages, progress validation, design data control, design during construction, monitoring during construction, testing, completion, post occupancy and design management appraisal.

3. BS 8541-2:2011 Library objects for architecture, engineering and construction. Recommended 2D symbols of building elements for use in building information modelling.


Image: BS 8541-2:2011

This document is a paid for document. It is available for purchase here.

This document includes a range of 2D symbols for those creating drawing outputs. For those not involved in drawing production this document is of less importance. This particular document only covers Level 1 and is not noted as required at “Level 2 BIM”.

Other standards applicable to “Level 1 BIM”

1. BS EN ISO 9001:2015 Quality management systems. Requirements.

This has been recently updated in September from the 2008 version. The current version is available here for purchase.

Many clients already require companies to have this standard for pre-qualification for projects and whilst there is time required to implement the standard it provides a great basis for documenting standard processes and providing a framework for constant improvement. BIM is not a specific requirement of ISO 9001 but many of its requirements are aligned.

2. BS EN ISO 13567-1:2002 Technical product documentation. Organization and naming of layers for CAD Overview and principles. and BS EN ISO 13567-2:2002 Technical product documentation. Organization and naming of layers for CAD Overview, format and codes used in construction documentation.

These can be purchased here and here.

These standards are applicable for UK practices working abroad as this covers a standard international layering convention that deviates slightly from the UK standard documented in BS 1192:2007+A2:2016.

3. ISO 12006-2:2015 Building construction — Organization of information about construction works — Part 2: Framework for classification.

The document can be purchased here.

Classification in the UK is currently in transition and the emerging Uniclass 2015 classification system has been developed in line with this ISO standard. More information about Uniclass 2015 can be found here.

Final thoughts

If you are serious about adopting BIM, or simply managing your information better, which as mentioned earlier is what BIM is really about, then for me it is crucial to develop your approach around these base standards. It should also be noted that all of these standards can be adopted without needing to change your existing technology solutions. Remember this applies to ALL project information not just drawings and models!

Whilst “Level 2 BIM” documentation has been less clear as it has been developed over the past 4-5 years, the requirements of “Level 1 BIM” are very clearly set out (and the recent updates provide more clarity). The only barrier is finding a little time to read the documents, figure out how to apply within your business and then implementing them. Your deployment can be gradual but I would say that implementing the standard file naming format described in BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 is a good place to start for most organisations.

If you do choose to adopt “Level 1 BIM” within your organisation remember that the standards are standards. If you deviate you are no longer complying. I often see people who claim to have implemented the standards but they then deviate from them for their own internal requirements. Remember BIM is about collaboration and ultimately the client wants consistent information for all their projects from any participant. No one really cares about what you as an organisation would prefer the standard to be. That might sound harsh but the industry needs to move forward together. (I guarantee many of those who have created deviations did not provide feedback during the recent update process for BS 1192).

As an example these are some common deviations we often come across:

  • Companies working on the same project using BS 1192 but using different project codes defined by each organization (the same code should be used by all project participants and documented in the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) or Post contract-award BIM Execution Plan (BEP). Ideally this should be defined by the client but otherwise the Information Manager or Lead Designer (where no Information Manager is appointed) would be best to do this.)
  • Companies shoe horning their internal project codes into file naming
  • Companies reordering the fields in file naming
  • Companies omitting required fields or inserting new fields in file naming
  • Companies deciding to create additional codes to sub-divide drawings
  • Companies not using standard BS 1192 revision codes
  • Companies not issuing CAD or BIM data to BS 1192 layering standards
  • Companies deviating from the layer naming convention by exchanging an underscore for a hyphen between Presentation and Description

We have now integrated BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 into our new authoring templates and project documentation but still have work to do now that the new version of BS EN ISO 9001:2015 has been published. We will continue to finesse and update our approaches as we move forward. Of course one of the core concepts of ISO 9001 accreditation is “continual improvement” so updating to new standards will be necessary as standards continue to evolve over time. The industry as a whole needs to understand that we must all evolve with these common standards and not create our own conflicting approaches.

If we as an industry are ever to cut out the waste we must align with standards and “Level 1 BIM” is such a crucial building block to all the other requirements of “Level 2 BIM”. If you haven’t started your journey yet, I urge you to download the documents mentioned earlier and begin to think about how you can apply this information.

Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Digital


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3 thoughts on “Level 1 BIM – the forgotten first step

  1. Great to see a standard on Quality Control construction for data exchange (ie. BS 1192-1) has gone through a thorough QA system process itself…….Not.
    If a standards institute can’t do it; it does not play well for the rest of us.
    Good post. We will get there.It may just take a while.

  2. An excellent post Rob, perhaps the best yet. A stark reminder that BIM is the responsibility of everyone.

    Makes me ponder whether Quality marks should only be awarded once Level 1 is proven.

    Again, thank you.

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