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BIM Advances Regulatory Code Compliance

The development and construction plan-review process can be quite time consuming for all parties involved. However, while managing code compliance is tedious, the introduction of BIM (building information modeling) can transform the entire building regulatory process.


Municipalities and cities have been advancing the plan-review process with electronic-plan technology in recent years. While these systems began taking off during the height of the construction boom as a way to more efficiently manage the rise in building permits, the technology has been especially beneficial for early adopters during the downturn, as a way to remain flexible and agile.



Now, the introduction of BIM into the process could improve consistency and efficiency throughout the building code review and approval process. The FIATECH, www.fiatech.org, Austin, Texas, Regulatory Streamlining Committee recently completed the first phase of its AutoCodes Project—which demonstrates how the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry can use automated code checking technology for BIM.

In January of this year, the team completed the first phase of the project, demonstrating how to automatically check a model for code compliance. The research team focused on accessibility and building code provisions from the ICC (Intl. Code Council), www.iccsafe.org, Washington, D.C., and collaborated with 14 authorities having jurisdiction for code compliance as well as the ICC

One of the requirements was a secure communication and collaboration portal to give project members a place to control access to 2D plans, review forms, and view the prototype 3D model files. The key objective for the research team is addressing the lack of consistency in plan review.


The project initially collected 2D manual-review data, which was followed by three cycles of development, testing, and finally validation in the 3D model environment. For example, Target Corp., www.target.com, Minneapolis, Minn., provided 2D design drawings of a prototype retail store for the manual-review process. Using a 3D model of the same facility ensured the 2D and 3D review process could be accurately compared. Ultimately, the process identified and closed the gaps between 2D and 3D.

The final report of the first phase summarizes findings from the research including: review inconsistency is the norm, not the exception; model creation best practices are a critical consideration; education and information is essential; and BIM needs to be inclusive with jurisdictions becoming a part of the BIM ecosystem.

Target is a key contributor to the Steering Committee in the retail market, and going forward Kaiser Permanente, www.kaiserpermanente.org, Oakland, Calif., will contribute resources for the development of technology in the healthcare space. At least four additional construction-specific verticals will be addressed in upcoming phases of the project.

The committee is beginning the second phase of the project this month, which adds more industry verticals and participants to the project, and expands the use of technology and guideline development to include more code classes such as MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing). It will be interesting to watch as this project unfolds and the AEC industry uncovers how municipalities and cities can play a part in the BIM process.

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