BIM Retrofit, Our Journey and Lessons Learnt

In 2012 we began to implement building information modelling (BIM) across our in-house multi-disciplinary design and construction sections. UK standards around the adoption of BIM were not clear, Publicly Available Specification 1192 and such documents were in their developmental stages.

Our biggest investment was not the BIM technologies themselves, but the change management that had to be put into effect across the various in-house multi-design disciplines. A significant amount of time and effort went into developing our standard policies, procedures and processes, upgrades to the IT infrastructure and negotiating licencing agreements with software vendors.

The case study presentation at the IET focused on a recently completed fit-out of a newly constructed office building at Milton Park into a laboratory facility. Since completion, our client has co-located R&D operations into the new facility from various sites across the UK. The laboratory requirements were challenging, with the overall construction period spanning eight months. The facility was delivered on time and ready to accept the transfer of personnel.

The existing facility imposed numerous constraints as it was designed as an office accommodation where limitations extended to the ceiling heights, building services routeing etc. BIM allowed us to assess the practicalities of retrofitting such a space with laboratories. The process of modelling began by surveying the building and creating a record model of the base building.

As the design progressed, options for how the laboratory spaces would be laid out and adjacencies were addressed using the building model. The completed building model included architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical and public health services, all of which were designed and developed by our in-house multi-discipline design team.

Nearing completion of the design stage, The Austin Company were appointed to undertake the fit-out. During the procurement process, we accessed our supply chains competence in delivering the project using BIM. BIM proved to be advantageous as it expedited the manufacturing of services on the critical path, such as the complex ductwork systems fitted within confined services zones.

The Austin Company completed the design and construction phases for the fit-out of the building with new laboratories, office spaces and ancillary areas, on time and on budget.

The event at The IET in Savoy Place focused on the procurement cycle, in particular, mechanical and electrical building services with some 50+ industry professionals. The discussion considered how we could all learn and avoid duplication of efforts, resources and achieve the best outcome. This included the sharing of our models with the supply chain and clarifying each other’s requirements and responsibilities.


  • architecture
  • mechanical
  • electrical
  • structural
  • public health
  • construction
  • management