Our journey through BIM certification

by Luisa Correia, Digital Design Manager at Levitt Bernstein and Regional Lead for Bristol, UK

At Levitt Bernstein we have been BIM certified since early 2019; having gone through three audits during this time, twice against PAS 1192-2:2012 and once against the BS EN ISO 19650-2:2018. The eagle-eyed amongst you readers will have done the maths already – by the time of our PAS certification, it had already been withdrawn and the ISO was the new kid in town.

But the reasons that drove us to pursue it were as tactical as practical – while we could see the potential when bidding for work, we also used the opportunity to get ourselves up to speed with the standards. So, despite some frustration in dealing with moving targets, it served us well.

There were a few crucial decisions we had to make along the way, and it is with some relief that looking back, we got them all right. For anyone considering going through the process, there will be a few choices to make early on, namely: what certification body to use; the conversation about tiers; and how to actually get the job done. In short: We went with the BSI. We went for tier 2. We went with Infinite BIM. In long…

The certification body we adopted was the BSI. At the time we found a handful of certification providers, however with certification against PAS 1192-2 being a fairly new thing, we wanted to ensure we were going with a body that carried some weight. And it paid off, as the BSI are now on track to become one of, if not the first accredited body with UKAS to provide certification against the ISO 19650-2:2018.

Tier 2? But I thought you were architects! Yes, we are architects. We’re not project managers, we don’t offer document controller services and we’re certainly not software providers. The Lead Appointed Party role as defined in the standards has this annoying habit of mutating throughout the design process, which in our experience has been: pre-planning architects, post-planning contractors. With BIM requirements typically intensifying post-planning, we have rarely been in a LAP role post-planning.

So, while we do sometimes write BEPs, by and large the work we do falls neatly under tier 2 responsibilities, with a dash of clash detection and a pinch of BEP, if that. We don’t write EIRs and our PI insurers have made it clear that if we wanted to go down the road of providing CDEs, we’re very much on our own. So, we went against the current and pursued tier 2 – and have yet to regret it.

And last but not least – how did we actually get there? We wanted help from industry professionals and after a handful of interviews, Infinite BIM were the obvious choice for consulting and the development of our document suite – both times. Their expertise came through when talking to them, despite my relentless questioning of the process as a whole, as if they were to blame for it all (if you’re reading this Andy, yes, I am aware I owe you a lifetime of pints for putting up with me). Infinite BIM were there to answer questions and provided the documentation needed to go through the audits. This meant the only thing left to do was to actually understand the standards (which considering this was pre-UK BIM Framework guidance times was no easy task anyway), without a doubt where our time was placed. It gave us the confidence we needed to crack on. Having a punching bag was an added bonus.

This all meant that when audit day came we felt ready. We have a clever document that breaks down each clause of the standards which we call the BIM Quality Plan (not unlike the Project Quality Plan required for 9001) and we fill this in for each project with BIM requirements. This helps us understand where the project is in the ‘BIM checklist’. EIRs? Check. BEP? Check. Client has appointed an Information Manager? Hahaha in your dreams. With procedures mapped out for every activity in ISO 19650, simply clicking the appropriate link in the BIM Quality Plan ensures our team members know what to do next, providing consistency and standardising our approach.

So, there it is – our BIM journey so far. It feels like it omits the BIM day to day; the lack of clarity of requirements, receiving the PAS 1192 when we ask for the EIRs, the request to price for a BIM Manager role with no scope of services, EIRs, and nothing more than a single row in a fee schedule to account for it.

But I’ll leave that for another day.

Luisa Correia
Luisa Correia

I am an Architect turned Digital Design Manager at Levitt Bernstein. I develop strategies to implement BIM in the practise and led the company to achieve ISO19650-2 Certification.