How To Explain BIM To Your Grandma

Sometimes it can be difficult explaining what BIM is to non-BIM’ers. Here’s a little story that could help explain BIM to your grandparents, family or even your boss?!?

Grandma: What is this “BIM” thing you always talk about?

Me: Well… [long pause]

“BIM” is short for Building Information Modeling – and er…

Maybe you’ve started a conversation like this too?

I then remembered at high school my Design Technology teacher, Mr Ormrod, taught us about physical prototyping. 

In nearly every industry we are trained to prototype a few times before we build the final product.

Me: Well Grandma BIM is kinda like a prototype – a goal of using BIM is to find errors and reduce cost before building.

At high school we even went on a field trip to the Lotus car factory to see some prototyping in action! 

BIM Prototyping

This is great but we chose to work in the design and construction industry – not manufacturing!

For us we usually design and then work out all the mistakes during construction.

Rework is included in most pricing and contracts – sometimes at about 30% waste ????

Can you imagine a contractor building the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) a few times in a remote location before building the real one in downtown Dubai?

Burj Khalifa

Getting back to the conversation with Grandma:

Grandma: How do you create a prototype for a whole building?!?

Me: Well… [medium pause]

They’re actually digital prototypes.

Burj Khalifa BIM

Grandma: Digital prototypes? How does that work?!?

Me: Well Grandma why don’t I just show you an example of BIM?

(56 seconds later)

Grandma: I see, so BIM is this “Revit” software thing?


Grandma: BIM is just simply a quicker way to create 2D drawings??


Me: Sorry I see that the software demo might be confusing – BIM* is actually so much more than just building the digital prototype.

Once the 3D model is created it can be used for everything from winning a project to analyzing how people would move through the building and from clash detection to automatically generating quantities for estimating construction costs – it’s pretty cool! 

Some popular “BIM Uses”:

Ten BIM Uses

Grandma: Ok, now I’m a little confused! How do you organize all of this?

Confused About BIM?

Me: Well – to simplify the whole BIM process we create a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) to capture the who, what, when, where and why.

Grandma: Oh that B.E.P. sounds important – something that you should probably Plan Early?

Me: That, Grandma, is a fantastic point – yes, everyone should Plannerly

Explaining BIM To My Nanna

I think my Grandma now understands a little more about BIM but just in case you need additional details here’s the answer from the BIM Dictionary:

*Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a set of technologies, processes and policies enabling multiple stakeholders to collaboratively design, construct and operate a Facility in virtual space. In ISO 19650 part 1, BIM refers to the “use of a shared digital representation of a built Asset to facilitate design, construction and operation processes to form a reliable basis for decisions” ISO 19650-1.

The term BIM continues to evolve over the years and is thus best understood as an ‘expression of digital innovation’ across the construction industry and the overall Built Environment.


For more information on how to simplify BIM and BIM Execution Planning (BEP) here are some resources that our industry uses:

GOOD READS: How Does BIM Software Work?

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Your BIM Blog: Here are five design and construction BIM-ers who share their unique experiences about how Building Information Modeling (BIM) has helped them solve problems and perform better in their roles. You’ll get to read in-depth instructional material, as well as some hilarious BIM experiences – some are quite controversial! ???? Every week, they’ll post a new blog so bookmark this page and check back every week to learn some of the greatest BIM insights!

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