Glossary November 18, 2020

BIM Standards: ISO 19605 and more. Different Levels of BIM.

Table of Contents

As a relatively new technology, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is bound to have a list of widely accepted standards sooner or later. BIM itself can be defined as a shared knowledge resource that hosts various information about a specific project, helping with forming appropriate decisions on all of the stages of the project.

BIM is known to be everyone’s hot topic for the last few years, and for a good reason. The potential advantages of adopting the comprehensive BIM system are massive and far outweigh all of the potential disadvantages. The substantial differences can be noticed when it comes to efficiency, speed, collaboration, accuracy, and so much more than that.

However, the spread of BIM is still quite limited, for a number of reasons. There’s a severe lack of understanding of how everything works, there’s also the amount of investment needed to have all of the advantages, and more. But one of the biggest factors that stop the spread of the BIM is the amount of different software right now on the market – the lack of standardization.

The existence of so many different BIM appliances makes it incredibly hard to pick the proper solution for yourself, and the amount of proprietary formats is simply staggering. This is why BIM needs a specific set of standards to be actually popular and widespread. The existence of standards allows for the existence of several different levels of BIM, and each of those have their own list of capabilities and advantages.

BIM standards, different levels of BIM

In fact, there are some BIM-related standards that already exist now, and it’s pretty much one of the first international lists of BIM standards, called ISO 19650. The International Organization for Standardization creates these standards, and so far at least two parts of it are included and working:

  1. Concepts and principles.
  2. Delivery phase and assets.

In general, ISO 19650 mostly refers to the organization and digitization of various information about civil engineering buildings – including BIM as one of the methods of interacting with such information. The origins of ISO 19650 can be found in two British standards – BS 1192 and PAS 1192-1.

Both of these standards focus on attempting to decrease the overall construction costs, providing a more effective framework to help different participants of the process with collaborative efforts, which improves almost all of the construction stages. Additional parts of the ISO 19650 are also in the development process, they should be focused on BIM security, asset management, the operational phase of the process in general, and so on.

Generally speaking, there are three different level of information BIM that are commonly known right now, and there are also some other ones that are not as frequently used as the others. For example, BIM 0 still exists, although this level means basically no collaboration whatsoever and only works with 2D CAD drawings. It’s safe to say that the industry as a whole has been over this level for a while now. However, some levels of BIM are not as commonly accepted as this one.

Level 1 of the UK BIM standards

Right now there are two levels of BIM standards available in the context of ISO 19650. Level 1 is fully defined by BS 1192 – Collaborative production of construction, engineering, and architectural information. There are several requirements that are included in this level:

  • BS 7000-4 – Design management
  • BS 8541-2 – Recommendations about 2D symbols to use with building elements
  • ISO 12006-2 – Information classification in construction (framework)
  • BS EN ISO 13567-1, 13567-2 – CAD overview, codes, and formats used in the construction documentation.

BIM level 1 as a whole is the first level of information BIM that is actually working on integrating parts of BIM as a whole into the construction process, including CDEs, unified information hierarchy, spatial coordination, roles and responsibilities that are known by everyone, and so on.

Level 2 of the UK BIM standards

The next level of BIM standards in the UK is much more extensive and now includes 8 different core standards at once. Each standard can also include one or several different requirements, in one way or another describing the standard in question:

  1. PAS 1192-2. Data management specifications for the delivery and capital phases of the construction project in the context of BIM.
  2. PAS 1192-3. Data management specifications for the operational phase of the BIM project.
  3. BS 1192-4. Collaborative information creation and exchange.
  4. PAS 1192-5. Smart asset management, digital environments, and security-related BIM specifications.
  5. BIM protocol.
  6. dPoW (Digital Plan of Work).
  7. BS 8536-1. Everything about building infrastructure.
  8. Implementation of ISO 12006-2:2015 about classification.

BIM level 2 takes the collaboration aspect to the next level, promoting cooperation via streamlined information exchange and coordination between departments, as well as via providing each of the participants with their own 3D CAD model of the project. This is the level of information BIM that is now being widely accepted as the bare minimum throughout the construction industry as a whole.

BIM standards Level 3 and what’s next

Standard-wise, level 3 isn’t as refined as the other two for now, but it’s an ongoing process that keeps on improving to this day. The expected list of standards that would be included in this level is as follows:

  • ISO 12006-3. Building construction.
  • ISO 16739. Facility management.
  • ISO 29481-1. Methodology and format of IDM.
  • ISO 29481-2. Interaction with IDM.
  • BS 8541-1, BS 8541-3, BS 8541-4, BS 8541-5, BS 8541-6, and more.

Often referred to as Open BIM or Integrated BIM, level 3 of BIM is supposed to be enforcing higher standards of cooperation and collaboration via unified information standards, shared project models, simultaneous work on that same model, and many more options. This level is sometimes defined differently due to it being not as widely accepted and used as level 2. At the same time, the expected advantages of transitioning from BIM level 2 to level 3 are still making some

BIM levels diagram

All of these different levels of BIM (sometimes described as “levels of BIM maturity” or the “UK BIM maturity model”) can be visualised in the form of a BIM levels diagram. This kind of diagram is often referred to as the “wedge” due to its shape, it’s used as a key component in the national BIM policy within the UK.

At the same time, the relative simplicity of this BIM levels diagram allows for it to serve as a good example of the different BIM levels and what they’re supposed to do in the first place. Some variations of the model might include the bare minimum of the intended BIM integration level, and others might also describe different standards and processes involved.

This model was originally developed back in 2008 by Mervyn Richards and Mark Bew, and you can find one of the examples of such a model below.

Diagram showing BIM Technology Maturity Levels



The amount of potential that BIM possesses is truly massive, and it’s possible to improve almost every aspect of the construction process of various projects in engineering, architecture, and more. But it’s also important to have a set-in-stone standard that everyone can rely on so that there are no problems with importing file formats, exporting data to different software appliances, and so on. This is why BIM standards are so important now, and the ongoing trend of the integration of BIM in many industries is making this transition even faster.

About the author
James Ocean

BIM/VDC Specialist. James Ocean is Head of BIMspiration at Revizto and keeps everything moving onwards and upwards. From supporting and teaching our internal team as well as our clients, James shows us the ins-and-outs and how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, cut costs, and get all types of projects through the finish line.

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BIM Standards Overview. Different Levels of BIM. BIM Levels Diagram BIM as a technology is a game-changer in many ways, but there are some factors that limit its growth to an extent. One of the biggest factors is the lack of standardization or lack of concrete BIM standards. This article describes the already existing BIM standards and why they’re needed in the first place. 2020-11-18
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