What are BIM properties and How Does it Relate to IFC?
Feb 22, 2023
In this post we will explain what BIM properties are, trying to avoid its most common criticism: unnecessary jargon and complexity. Furthermore, we will explain how it relates to IFC. If you are familiar with the concept and finding it frustrating, please check out the final section!
What are BIM Properties?
BIM properties are the core of a BIM Model. BIM models contain elements. Simplified, an element can be described as a building part. Each element is specified with information, called BIM properties. They describe core functions such as:
The specter of BIM properties are broad and vary for different building components. Often, you only care about a portion of them, and can ignore the rest. Summarized, BIM Properties are a vital part for the analysis of 3D designs.
Graphical and Non-Graphical
BIM Properties are divided into two categories: Graphical and non-graphical. Graphical describes the physical and visual aspects of the element, i.e. dimensions, geometry, color etc. On the other hand, non-graphical BIM properties describe the metadata. Meaning, non-visual information linked to the element. For example, class of concrete, maintenance requirements, category etc.
Stored in Property Sets
Property sets are collections of related properties. They provide a way to group properties together into logical categories, making it easier to organize and manage information about an object. Some examples are dimensions, element, structural, Pset_WallCommon and QtoWallBaseQuantities. Note that “Pset” is short for “Property set”, meaning it contains non-graphical information. While “Qto” is short for “Quantity Take Off”, meaning it contains graphical information about dimensions.
How Does it Relate to IFC?
IFC properties serve as a standardized way to store and exchange data between different software applications used in the building design and construction process. In other words, IFC properties are just a standarized way of expressing BIM properties. By using a common data model, different parties involved in a project can access and exchange information more efficiently, reducing errors and improving collaboration.
If used correctly, BIM Properties can make your job a whole lot easier. By utilizing the information in the model, you can extract quantities and sort through the model easily. However, this does require software solutions. There are free options on the market, but they have very limited functionality. We of course recommend you check out Sparkel for the best utilization of your BIM Models for quantity takeoffs and more.
Common Critizism and Workaround
While having many benefits, BIM Properties also has its downsides and limitations. In our opinion the two major issues are:
Lacking or Inaccurate Data
If you have any experience with BIM, you know that BIM Models are almost never perfect. The data might be inaccurate, completely wrong or lacking. Requiring you either to change the model itself or do manual operations on top of the model export. Errors in BIM Properties might very well lead to deviations in the physical result of the building.
Overwhelming complexity is a common critizsm of BIM Properties. If models become too complex or too detailed, it might lead to confusion, errors, or conflicts.
Solution to Critizism
To be concise, use a well crafted software to handle your IFC Models. Models are never perfect. As a contractor, the possibility to analyze freely and supplement your IFC models is a necessity. Combining the stored model information, i.e. BIM properties, with your own shapes, measurements, and product specifications allows for an unprecedented workflow.