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What are the BIM dimensions?

BIM dimensions

BIM dimensions are the use of data for specific BIM objectives:

  • 3D (model)
  • 4D (time)
  • 5D (cost)
  • 6D (sustainability)
  • 7D (operation&maintenance)
  • 8D (safety)
  • 9D (lean construction)
  • 10D (industrialized construction)
BIM dimensions are BIM target information that can be added to the model to make the BIM project much cheaper and more efficient.

Simply put, what distinguishes a BIM model from a 3D CAD model is that it includes information about the facility that is not just about geometry, placement, or graphics.

In other words, we know not only how big the house is, what it looks like and where it is, but also the order in which it will be built, how long it will be built, how much it will cost, and how it will be cheaper to run and maintain.

3D BIM (geometry)

The third dimension of BIM is a virtual 3D space capable of a walkthrough where the components of the facility are parametric, interconnected, and endowed with a wealth of information, all stored in a database that is shared in a common data environment (CDE).

3D BIM is a good tool for designing, modeling problems, and solutions, analyzing, detecting clashes, and checking compliance with various standards. As the project progresses, the information in the model becomes more and more detailed, right up to the end of the design phase, when the project data is delivered.

But at this level, we are far from exploiting the true depth of building information modeling.

If we stop here, we are depriving ourselves of the ability to get our buildings built faster, cheaper, with better quality and fewer problems, and to operate, maintain, or if necessary expand and retrofit them, at a lower cost, with less money and lower emissions, and at a lower cost by an order of magnitude. Moreover, our facility could be much more valuable if at least the as-built model was available, not to mention its “live”, connected digital twin.

By including other types of data, we can serve additional BIM purposes.

4D BIM (time)

The fourth dimension of BIM brings the element of time, or schedule, into the model; working time data can be associated with the quantity of material already in the 3D BIM model.

The model may therefore include data on lead or installation times, construction times, commissioning, consolidation, repair times, or time dependencies on other areas of the project. It allows for a seamless construction schedule and provides a good strategic basis for construction management, as well as a visual understanding of the project.

It helps to clarify communication between designers, contractors, and suppliers and provides information for logistics and the efficient placement of materials on site.

5D BIM (cost)

The fifth dimension of BIM represents the construction costs in the model. Without it, it is easy to underestimate the budget of a construction project, as the 3D model itself only shows the design quantities, not the construction.

There are usually three types of “quantity” in a data model that can provide the basis for the cost:

  • clearly visible quantities (e.g. windows)
  • quantities that are not visible and more difficult to determine (e.g. mouldings around windows)
  • quantities not shown (e.g. temporary works, construction joints, etc.)
For example, the Plannerly software collects and displays the building’s material list in a classified way, but our model can do much more.

From the model, project costs can be calculated with real-time updated data, and quantities, materials, equipment, and labor can be better estimated. It can be used to analyze different scenarios, combined with chronological (4D BIM) visualization. This will allow us to achieve a more transparent financial schedule and, ultimately, much better financing for the whole project.

6D BIM (sustainability)

This dimension provides our model with data on the 3 pillars of building sustainability, mainly in terms of energy management.

The models are fed with energy and building physics data, so we can use various software tools to simulate the operation of the building, and make energy use and sustainability calculations.

This allows us to apply the most appropriate technical solutions from the design phase onwards to ensure lower energy consumption, higher quality, and comfort, guaranteeing the sustainability of the project from a business point of view.

The 6D BIM model is also called integrated BIM (iBIM) because it contains detailed information that can help facility management and operations in the future.

The energy use and sustainability
of the building can be optimised right from
the design stage

7D BIM (operation&maintenance)

The aim of 7D BIM is to create a digital twin, which is connected to the virtual “as built” model of our building by a kind of “umbilical cord”, an operational management (FM) software: it dynamically updates itself and attaches itself back to the physical twin based on data from sensors placed there, from iOT devices.

It includes the inclusion of operational support information on component manufacturers, installation date, required maintenance, configuration, and operation of components to optimize their performance and energy management throughout their expected lifetime, including decommissioning.

In this way, maintenance and renovation activities can be planned for years in advance, the relevant costs over the lifetime of the assets built, including how long it will be worthwhile to repair or when it is likely to become uneconomic to operate existing systems.

Using BIM can deliver orders of magnitude better business results, with savings that can pay back many times the cost of the BIM design, or even the investment cost of the entire facility.

8D BIM (safety)

On the one hand, this dimension makes it possible to anticipate risks throughout the construction process and, on the other hand, it also helps to increase safety at work – in other words, to prevent accidents.

With 8D BIM, the construction site can be visualized before construction starts, so that all possible scenarios can be analyzed in terms of potential hazards. Virtually every part of the construction site (fences, storage areas, scaffolding, machinery, signs, etc.) can be modeled and viewed in real-time using AR/VR tools.

This gives us a complete picture of the construction site, a safety plan, alerting workers to various hazards, etc.

9D BIM (lean construction)

By digitizing processes, we have the opportunity to optimize every step of the project implementation.

With a lean approach, we can manage resources and raw materials efficiently, minimize waste and develop a strategy that transforms even the construction waste that is handled into something of added value.

With a good BIM management system, you can make the best possible use of the resources you have been entrusted with while keeping to your construction schedule and budget.

10D BIM (industrialized construction)

10D BIM is a category beyond one construction industry and aims to increase the productivity of the entire construction industry by integrating new technologies and all available data and processes (physical, business, environmental, etc.).


There is therefore a wealth of data available, which can be used to improve all relevant dimensions of a project by an order of magnitude. But are all of these data needed from the start of the project? How and when will this information be uploaded into the model, and will it not be too much work? What is the purpose of all this data anyway?

Csaba Melovics

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