BIM Euro Bust? : Adoption Rates for BIM in Europe lagging US

So while one can point out the data rich building modeling was born in Europe through Archicad’s debut in 1987, the term BIM was coined in the US and popularized by Autodesk, and now BIM adoption is lagging on the continent.  This, at first blush, seems improbable.  Graphisoft born in Hungary, Tekla born in Finland, Solibri born in Finland.   Herring must help analytics.  However consider this from McGraw Hills Smart Market BIM Report on Europe.

  • Just over a third (36%) of the Western European industry participants reported having adopted BIM, compared to the 49% adoption rate in North America in 2009
  • Over a third of Western European BIM users (34%) have over 5 years of experience using BIM versus only 18% in North America
  • Three-quarters of Western European BIM users (74%) report a positive perceived return on their overall investment in BIM, versus 63% of BIM users in North America
  • Contrary to North America , where BIM adoption has surged among contractors to 50%, BIM has only been embraced by 24% of of Western European Contractors.

Those using it in Europe appear to be doing it better.  This most likely is short lived as the nitrous was put in the US BIM engine back when the GSA required it on projects and states started following suit as did Universities,  etc.   This would explain the more experience in Europe as well as the reported ROI figures.

BIM in the US is currently madness.  It went from an after thought on the shelf to;

‘Give me a cup of coffee and I’ll take a BIM with that.”

” What do you need it for?”

” I don’t know just everybody is telling me I need one.”

Anyone in the business will tell you they have experience with clients that had no idea about Revit or Archicad, etc.  but will include it as part of the scope on a project.  These hiccups are expected so there is still a lot of education to go on within the industry.  BIM is a big tent and it has many flavors so people are using it successfully in a variety of ways.  It was surprising to me that GCs in Europe lagged their US counterparts in adoption, which shows that either integration is not happening as one would hope with BIM and IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) or a smaller number of contractors are getting the business in Europe.

While we might thank the US Government for mandating BIM, or for that matter whatever lobbyist and well funded junket put the BIM bug in the US ear, BIM acceleration is happening, so is the ROI and the knowledge on how to use it.


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  1. #1 by Paul Lee on October 6, 2010 - 6:26 am

    High end BIM software is problematic in Europe. Why? Because of the landscape and older, more complex town planning, ownership etc. This makes building design necessarily more complex and bespoke. This has the effect of making full parametric models more expensive to make. Its like a manufacturing problem: It costs large sums of money to make one widget. It only makes sense to manufacture the widget if enough copies are made and sold. It is exactly the same with BIM objects. They need to be numerous enough in one project to make them worth the investment. If you only need one widget you don’t manufacture it- You get a craftsperson to make it. Thats why SketchUp is a great low-end BIM tool that will serve much more of the market than the very well made, reliable (but ferociously expensive) high end BIM tools.

    I have just trained 20 architects in SketchUp in an Irish Government Department who had each been given [High-end BIM software] license and training, and now they don’t use it- A complete waste of huge amounts of taxpayers money. The stated reason for this was that most of the projects that they do are not “modular” enough to warrant full parametric models.

    The mistake that most people make about BIM is that it has to be expensive. This is an utterly false assumption.

  2. #2 by Jim Foster on October 6, 2010 - 7:31 am

    Great points. Although I know on some of the boards you’d get flamed for referring to SketchUP as BIM. It’s true here in the US that architects are using SketchUP for design phase. Are they going into construction docs right from SketchUp?

  3. #3 by Paul Lee on October 6, 2010 - 9:09 am

    Hi Jim. Thanks for your comments. Yeah I think the usual abuse that occurs when SketchUp and BIM are mentioned in the same sentence will die down soon after people get tired of it- Its going to happen so often.

  4. #4 by Paul Lee on October 6, 2010 - 9:12 am

    By the way- Yes I have written a course to explain how Construction Documents are created in SketchUp Pro. I have successfully delivered this course to a number of architects and engineers who are deploying this technology successfully. If interested, please email for details.

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