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News I published 27 November 2023 I Jeroen de Gruijl

BIM is used less by contractors than by architects, but usage is growing

After years of steady but quite slow growth, the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) has now reached substantial levels, and for good reason. It allows increasingly complex buildings and installations to be built efficiently, reducing clashes and failure costs and allowing other technologies like prefab to be used. In some areas, regulations demand working in BIM as well.

Consequently, BIM usage has grown significantly, especially among architects. On average, about half of European architects are currently using BIM, and in some areas, usage is so common that it has become a license to operate for architects. However, if you follow the business value chain beyond the architects, the usage of BIM decreases significantly.

BIM usage is not as common among contractors

Looking at contractors, for instance, the share of contractors using BIM is significantly lower than the aforementioned share of architects. As the results of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor Monitor show, the share of contractors working in BIM varies from 35% in the Netherlands to a mere five and four percent in Germany and Poland, respectively.

Company size matters, though

To put these low shares in perspective, it is important to note here that these results are based on our biannual monitor results, for which we research contractors with five or more employees in eight European countries. Company size generally has a strong relationship with BIM usage, as BIM is more often used in larger projects and less likely to be used in smaller projects.

Since large contractors are more involved in larger projects, it is also more likely they are using BIM. Smaller contractors are generally more involved in small projects and also more often in renovation projects. BIM is not often used in those types of projects, which is why the smaller contractors are least likely to use BIM. Given that we focus on mid- to large-size contractors, those small contractors are already filtered out.

The Dutch case shows other drivers of BIM usage

Besides the size of a company, many other factors influence and stimulate BIM usage. The situation in the Netherlands, with the highest share of contractors using BIM, shows many of these factors. Not surprisingly, the share of architects using BIM is also highest in the Netherlands, where using BIM has truly become a license to operate for them.

First of all, the level of digitalization in construction processes in the Netherlands is very high to begin with, which makes the step to start using BIM smaller. Secondly, the Netherlands has a culture of new-build construction that involves a lot of serial construction and prefabrication, which means BIM is not just very useful but often a must.

On top of that, BIM usage is stimulated top-down, as it has been obligatory for certain projects since 2011. Also, there is a network of governmental and educational institutions that stimulate BIM usage and integration, for instance, by offering BIM instruction courses. Consequently, the level of BIM usage among construction professionals further down the construction value chain is higher than in other countries as well, albeit generally lower than BIM usage among contractors and especially architects.

Regardless of these factors that make the Netherlands such a rich breeding ground for BIM usage, some contractor companies still find reasons and experience barriers that prevent them from starting to work in BIM. To find out about these and about details of BIM usage among contractors in eight European countries, we refer you to USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor Monitor.

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