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BIM maturity levels in the UK: working towards BIM Level 3 for 2020

BIM maturity levels in the UK: working towards BIM Level 3 for 2020

In the UK, BIM technology reached Level 2 in 2016 and the achievement of Level 3 for 2020 is more and more concrete. What are the “maturity levels”?

The United Kingdom is often seen as one of the worldwide champions of BIM, and a leader in Europe in the implementation of BIM due to its well-structured and managed BIM action plan within the AEC (Architecture Engineering Construction) industry.

Since the post-war period, the British government has raised an issue: how to use information technology in the construction industry to exploit its advantages? The English administration has immediately figured out the benefits of this digital revolution which involves optimization of processes, economic resources, reduction of time, costs and errors related to a limited communication across the professionals involved in the construction process.


Although the UK Department of Trade has promoted the use of 2D and 3D CAD programs as early as 2002, the transformation of the construction industry towards a “BIM oriented” environment speeded up in 2010 thanks to the “Digital Built Britain” Programme.

This programme was increased further in 2011 with the description of the BIM maturity levels by BIM Task Group:

  • Level 0 – 2D CAD drawings
  • Level 1 – 2D/3D CAD drawings
  • Level 2 – information is shared across the various project members
  • Level 3 – a dimension dedicated to the entire life-cycle management of a building.

The English BIM strategy presented in the “Digital Built Britain 2011/2016” and “Digital Built Britain – Level 3 2016/2020” programmes, allowed to reach Level 2 in 2016 with the required by law use of a BIM technology for public projects and to aim at obtaining the Level 3 in 2020.

Since its launch in 2011, the UK Government’s BIM programme required to use BIM for any public project and in major infrastructures. As a result, the UK has developed an increasingly detailed set of BIM standards and tools that have made it a world leader in BIM, thus encouraging an acceleration in training of qualified professionals in the use of BIM and in the gradual use of BIM technologies for private construction projects.

The Government Construction Strategy 2016/2020 has been published with the aim of transforming the construction industry in the UK while adopting new digital technologies management methods and approaching a more sustainable urban development.


A brief history of BIM in the UK

2002 – The AVANTI Programme is published

The AVANTI Programme received funding from the British government to study how ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) could be used to aid collaboration in the construction industry. The aim of the study was to improve efficiency and the quality of information gathered on a construction project and how to improve the exchange of information preventing problems related to their transmission.

The expectations were:

  • Reducing by 80% in the time taken to find information
  • Reducing by 50% in the time taken to estimate and control costs in public works
  • Reducing by 85% in the time taken to save on using and reformatting information, updating the different levels/layers in parallel

The AVANTI Programme was crucial for the development of new protocols.

2007 – BS 1192:2007 protocol is published

The results of the AVANTI Programme were adopted into the formulation of BS 1192:2007 protocol which acted as a code of practice for the construction industry when dealing with data. The BS 1192:2007 standardized file classifications and naming conventions to improve the communication among the different operators in the sector. Unfortunately, BS 1192 was not universally adopted by the construction industry who defied to abandon the old methods.

2008 – The Financial Crisis

The financial crisis undermined many sectors of industry. Achieving greater economic and environmental sustainability in the construction sector through the use of technological solutions was seen necessary.

2010 – Program Digital Built Britain: Building a sustainable Britain

Sustainability became a high priority for the UK Government in the 2010s. The National targets include:

  • Commitment to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050
  • Requirements of all new buildings to be Zero Carbon by 2018 (public sector) and 2019 (private sector).

In order to meet these targets, the onus was to transform the construction industry and the processes related to it to make it more sustainable.

2011 – The BIM strategy

In March 2011, the BIM Task Group published its BIM Strategy which outlined how the UK Government could help the construction industry in realising the benefits of BIM. In the same year, the Government published their “Government Construction Strategy” which deemed that 3D BIM should be achieved by 2016. This would apply to all public projects.

It was based on:

  • Training programmes for all the professionals involved
  • Public incentives for companies which adopted BIM protocols
  • Inclusions in all tenders for public works and infrastructures of specific protocols for the use of BIM
  • Information and publicity program for all in order to understand the benefits of change..


2013 – Publishing PAS 1192

The publishing PAS 1192 were created in 2013. The UK government recognized that the process of moving the construction industry to ‘full’ collaborative working will be progressive. There are 4 Levels of measuring BIM, 0-3 the maturity levels are the construction supply chain’s ability to operate and exchange information


This is an entry level BIM. In its simplest form, 2D CAD drafting only is used. Output and distribution is via paper or via electronic prints with information shared by traditional paper drawings or, in some instances, digitally via PDF. Level 0 effectively means no collaboration. All changes, checks and interfaces across disciplines are manual


Level 1 is a mixture of 2D and 3D information supported by a common data environment (CDE) for electronic sharing of drawings and data with a standardized data structure and format. The transmission of information takes place through a hierarchical model in which the general contractor shares the information with other professionals of the project. Therefore, the collaboration across the various project members is partial.


Level 2 refers to smart projects in which each single entity contains data and characteristics that can be managed in a BIM environment. It is possible to control the “behaviour” of a building from different angles (thermal, structural, functional). Each member involved in the construction project have the possibility to collaborate and to share information based on its own specialisation updating everyone over and over again.


In the Level 3 collaboration is no longer limited to primary consultants but includes most of the project team across all project life-cycle phases. At this level, the project model is saved into a single data sharing environment, the BIM Platform, in which each professional can create, consult and correctly manage the BIM model for each discipline and during the building’s entire life-cycle: from planning to implementation through to maintenance or dismantling.


2016 – Achieving Level 2 BIM

In 2016 the widespread use of BIM technologies in the public sector projects led to a gradual use of BIM technologies in private sector projects. Once the level 2 goal was achieved, the government considered appropriate to set a new target for achieving level 3 in 2020.

Digital Built Britain – Level 3 2016/2020

The Digital Built Britain described how the UK construction industry will take its next steps in creating new commercial models and identifying technologies to transform our approach to social infrastructure development and construction. The plan 2016/2020 adopted by the British Government aims to:

  • An obligatory use of BIM technology for the entire life-cycle management of a building This includes the way we plan, build, maintain and use that infrastructure, as well as the renewal, replacement and creation of new built assets
  • A widespread use of BIM technology for design and construction of private buildings
  • A complete exploitation of the BIM technology potential during the management and maintenance phases of a building

Nowadays, construction companies increasingly move towards using BIM technology for private buildings.

Progresses are such that it is assumed that the UK will easily achieve these goals.

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