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Building Information Models through Surveys

31st October 2017


Surveying will generate a significant amount of asset data; however is this the right data? How will the organisation report, analyse and ultimately use the information gained from the survey to support its asset management planning and works programmes? These questions can be answered through understanding an organisation’s business needs; its need for the data, expenditure drivers, and existing policies and standards such as maintenance and renewal practices. The data collected and the building information model (BIM) created must be aligned with these to ensure it is meaningful and can be easily used to produce the required outcomes.

The key to creating an effective information model is understanding the required end outcomes. Ultimately this starts with an initial assessment of your needs followed by a survey to collect the right data stored in an appropriate information model.

As component data is collected, it is stored within an agreed property space hierarchy structure and component data model. The level of detail is again driven by the needs of the organisation. Collecting unnecessary data or recording too much detail can be needlessly expensive and also creates a potentially wasteful burden of maintaining superfluous data into the future for the organisation. Where possible, we work with our customers to guide the correct level of data needed before embarking on a survey programme.

Organisations that allocate, manage and maintain individual property spaces will likely require information models to an individual space (room) level. For example, a university may collect data at lecture room or laboratory level because this is the level of management and allocation - it's where the work is planned.  Conversely, a commercial property manager may collect data at floor or lease level. Age care providers may choose to capture high level detail at each residential unit level. A landlord, where the client is responsible for the interior finishes and fit out, may only need the major items of building fabric captured for the exterior areas plus any common areas within the building such as stairways and halls.

At the component level, some organisations have policies to replace components or renew finishes once they reach a predetermined minimum condition, such as a customer reception area which needs to be maintained in good or even very good condition.

Some organisations have a policy to allow segmented condition while others will only allow segmentation for components of a certain type or beyond a specified quantum threshold.  This will typically reflect component renewal and maintenance policies or practices.  In some cases the policy may be to renew a component when the proportion in a specific condition exceeds an agreed threshold.  For example a carpet in corridors or areas of high traffic, e.g. hallway, may have 75% in good condition and 25% in poor condition.  Recording and tracking condition deterioration allows the component to be monitored over time and condition used to trigger renewal once a threshold is exceeded.

Other organisations have renewal triggered by performance thresholds, e.g. a hospital surgical room where the worn vinyl floor wears and becomes slippery. This is a performance issue in the first instance because while the condition has deteriorated it is the performance or suitability of the vinyl that has become unfit for purpose.  Our Property Quality Standards (PQS) module can be used to qualitatively or quantitatively assess performance against agreed standards.

In summary, the business needs of the organisation should primarily drive the survey methodology and database structure. Without understand an organisation’s policies and standards, and how component data will support project level decision making, increases the likelihood of excessive or unnecessary data collection. This is likely to add unnecessary expense and ultimately in the worst case, due to a resulting lack of confidence, the data and database may fall by the wayside as it does not produce the required outcomes. 

By Matt Abbott, Service Delivery Manager, NZ




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