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How to digitise construction and produce an eBIM model

eBIM models: how to digitise an existing construction

eBIM and Real estate management, restoration and renovation works: here’s how the digitizing of existing buildings works.

Working with cultural heritage can turn out to be a very complex discipline and construction professionals often face many challanges when managing existing building heritage that require renovation, restoration or facility management processes. Whatever the type of intervention, the first step, when addressing an existing building is certainly the digitization phase. In fact, only after having full disposal of a digital twin of the real asset, will it be possible to switch to asset management processes supported by highly advanced facility management software.

In this article, we’ll be exploring what eBIM is, how it works, and how it can be utilized to digitize existing buildings with a cultural heritage importance.

What is eBIM and how it works

eBIM and management of existing buildings

Introduction to eBIM

Definition of eBIM

EBIM (Existing Building Information Modeling) is an innovative approach to digitising existing buildings through the production of detailed 3D information models, which include all geometric, structural, material and plant data. The models created offer an accurate digital representation of an asset and its components, allowing better management, maintenance and redevelopment of buildings over time. To create a 3D information model you need to use a BIM software for construction. Using the software parametric objects, you can quickly build the BIM model of the building, complete with walls, floors, windows, doors, finishes and furnishings. It will be possible to associate information, technical data sheets, images and all the data useful for the project and for the maintenance of the asset over time to each parametric object. Therefore, the 3D model becomes a real container of information to be dynamically updated and implemented.

The importance of eBIM

EBIM is crucial to optimizing resources, reducing waste, and improving the sustainability of existing buildings. It allows you to make informed decisions about maintenance, restructuring and use of resources, all based on accurate and up-to-date data.

Digitisation of existing buildings

Challenges in digitising existing buildings

The digitisation of existing buildings rises several challenges, including the lack of comprehensive documentation, the complexity of structures and the need to integrate data from different sources. eBIM, however, offers a structured and efficient method to overcome these difficulties. In addition, the initial difficulties of implementing eBIM processes are largely repaid by the simplification of facility management activities, the accuracy of the 3D representation and the opportunity to constantly check your models and relating information over time.

Benefits of the digitisation

Digitisation of existing buildings through eBIM offers numerous advantages, including:

  • reduction of maintenance and management costs;
  • improving sustainability and energy efficiency;
  • facilitating planning and allocation of resources;
  • greater collaboration between the parties involved in the building life cycle.

eBIM Process

Gathering data

To create an eBIM model, you need to collect accurate and detailed data about the existing building which involve:

  1. site surveying and laser scanning – 3D laser scanning allows you to collect high-precision geometric data with regards to the building, including the size, shape and location of architectural elements and installations;
  2. existing documentation – such as floor plans, cross-sections and elevations, can be used to supplement the data collected via laser scanning and provide additional information on the building’s features;
  3. creating the BIM model – after collecting the necessary data, the next step in the eBIM process is creating the BIM model. This involves  architectural elements and building installations modelling, using specific software and tools, such as:
    • point cloud processing software that transforms the data collected with 3D laser scanners into three-dimensional models that can be used in a BIM software;
    • BIM software to create three-dimensional parametric models, integrating all geometric, structural and MEP information;
      • architectural element modeling – architectural elements , such as walls, floors, windows and doors, are modeled in 3D using BIM software. The models produced contain detailed information about the geometry, materials and physical properties of the elements;
      • MEP systems modelling– the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems of the building are modelled separately and integrated into the eBIM model. You can easily manage the interactions between the architectural elements and the systems, as well as to plan components maintenance and replacement over time;
      • model validation and quality control – once the eBIM model is created, it is essential to validate it and check its quality to ensure data accuracy and reliability. This process may include checking the dimensions, positions and properties of the elements, as well as amending any errors or inconsistencies;
    • interoperability tools for data exchange between different software and formats, facilitating collaboration between the various professionals involved in the project.

eBIM model use

The eBIM model can be used for various purposes, such as:

  1. maintenance and management of existing buildings – eBIM allows you to schedule maintenance, monitor the status of elements and components and predict degradation over time;
  2. energy renovation and requalification – the eBIM model can be used to plan and evaluate energy renovation and requalification interventions, allowing to identify the most effective solutions to improve the energy efficiency of the building and reduce their environmental impact;
  3. resource planning – thanks to the eBIM model, it is possible to plan and allocate resources optimally, evaluating the impact of the different options on the management of the building, its value and its long-term sustainability.
  4. collaboration between the parties involved​ – eBIM models facilitate communication and collaboration between the various parties involved in the building lifecycle. Owners, managers, designers and builders must have direct access to constantly up-to-date information in order to work together in optimizing the building management and maintenance phases.

eBIM is definitely the most effective way to digitise existing buildings and optimise their management, maintenance and renovation. By collecting accurate data and creating a detailed 3D information model, it is possible to make informed decisions, reduce costs and improve the sustainability of buildings overtime. In a world where environmental sustainability and energy efficiency are becoming increasingly important, eBIM proves to be a fundamental tool to address these challenges and ensure a greener future for our building heritage.

Training and skills required to work with eBIM

You need to acquire specific and up-to-date skills in the field of information modelling of existing buildings. Among the most popular training courses and certifications, you’ll find:

  • BIM courses and certifications that offer comprehensive training on BIM methodologies and tools, focusing on existing buildings;
  • specialization courses in surveying and 3D modeling that provide the technical skills necessary to obtain and process the metric-morphological data of buildings
  • professional roles such as architects, engineers and surveyors can specialize in the field of eBIM, acquiring specific and up-to-date skills through professional training courses.