Blog: Can BIM Help Address the Challenges Facing Irish Construction?

The Construction IT Alliance (CitA) and the BIM Innovation Capability Programme (BICP) recently unveiled a new report, called Building Information Modelling in Ireland 2017, exploring the state of the Irish construction industry, and the role BIM has to play in its future.

As explained by the report’s authors, Irish construction output is enjoying a strong upward trajectory at the moment, having finally recovered from the long recession of 2008 to 2011. Much of the growth is the result of public expenditure - indeed, the Government’s recent Multi-Annual Public Capital Investment Allocations for 2017 to 2019 suggests there will considerable spending on housing and transport over the next two years.

Overall, the future is bright, but there are challenges facing the industry, looking forwards. The skills shortage is growing ever more acute, putting pressure on developers to deliver projects on time and within budget. This is a particular issue in the housing sector, where low rates of housebuilding in recent years is causing demand to outstrip supply.

In addition, the report highlights the UK’s decision to leave the EU as an event with a significant impact on construction in Ireland, due to the potential uncertainty with regards to the ability of Irish companies to continue to operate in Great Britain. Such issues may have repercussions that have the potential to affect growth into the next decade.

For the report’s authors, the answer to many of the challenges facing the construction industry in Ireland is the widespread implementation of BIM. As evidence from countries like the UK and France shows, BIM has the potential to support builders in reducing costs by streamlining the supply chain, while the cutting-edge technology involved can help make the industry more attractive to the next generation.

BIM is already becoming more common across the country, as firms operating in the UK - where BIM Level 2 is now routinely used on major projects - bring back key learnings and implement them on projects in Ireland. However, to fully realise the benefits of BIM, more must be done to encourage take-up across the industry as a whole.

As the report’s authors conclude, perhaps it is time for the Irish Government to follow our neighbours’ leads in creating a regulatory framework to encourage the industry to complete the BIM implementation process. By putting in place strategic milestones and benchmarks, it will be possible to digitise the construction industry, and harness the power of new technology to build homes that are better quality and more cost-effective too.

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