• Panagiotis Papargyris

The problem: The Tower of Babel effect

"The designers and the contractors already have the information that I need to maintain and manage the buildings; why should I have to recreate what has already been accomplished?"

- Anonymous owner

Let us examine a traditional building contract in which the works of the different stages are carried out by a different actor. To put it simply, the situation goes as follows: the various designers (architects, structural engineers etc.) design the project and produce a series of drawings which they deliver to the contractor, providing him/her with the necessary information to carry out the construction. The contractor receives the drawings, does the construction work and delivers the building to the owner.

At this point, the owner has to manage the Operations / Maintenance phase. But what about the information required for this task? Indicatively:

Often incomplete, housed in multiple systems or has no cohesiveness, in alignment with the contractor’s needs, and hence marginally useful for an owner. [1]

Often turned over in a difficult-to-use manner (in the form of paper documents, delivered usually at the financial completion of the project). They usually end up in boxes in a boiler room and there is the possibility that they will be lost, destroyed etc. Unpacking the boxes and retyping asset information and maintenance schedules into Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) is required; facility managers report that this effort may require man-years of effort, causing the loss of time and money. [2]

Difficult to access, impossible to analyze, hard to update. [3]

Losses of information at hand-over

Based on the above, it is no wonder that the situation in the construction industry has been described as the Tower of Babel (a reference to the biblical story). This situation undermines the level of services provided by the facility and creates additional costs.


1. J. J. Goedert, P. Meadati, Integrating Construction Process Documentation into Building Information Modeling, Journal of Construction Engineering Management 134 (7) (2008) 509–516.

2. East, W., Construction-Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie), 2014,


3. Schley, M., BIM for Facility Management - Managing for the Building Lifecycle, 2012, http://www.ifma-afc.org/docs/submissions/2012-04-BIM.pdf

#BIM #eng #babel

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