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Last Updated on 7th October 2022

The benefits of BIM and Scan to BIM

What is BIM?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process of managing information on a project in the AEC industry. A standardised digital plan with a 3D model of the project, allows multiple stakeholders to work collaboratively from one source of truth. Changing one aspect of 3D model, like moving a door or window, changes it for all stakeholders with access to the plans. This level of cooperation among architects, consultants, builders, or contractors elevates the design, delivery, and maintenance of building projects.

A parametric 3D model is a backbone that most other data connects to or references. The model can come from a design of a new asset during the planning stages or as a result of a Scan to BIM process, which is usually the case for an existing asset.

Modern technologies have moved the industry from drawn plans and low collaboration to fully integrated digitised plans with high collaboration.

Level 0: Low collaboration
Level 0: Low collaboration

Data comes in the form of computer-aided design (CAD) drawings. Sharing paper drawings makes collaboration difficult or non-existent.

Level 1: Partial collaboration
Level 1: Partial collaboration

Level 1 requires a common data environment (CDE). This level uses 2D and 3D CADs, and it is often sufficient for smaller building projects.

Level 2: Full collaboration
Level 2: Full collaboration

Level 2 includes additional dimensions such as budget calculation and time management. Stakeholders working on a level 2 project should have access to all available information in a common file type that holds all the design information.

Level 3: Full integration
Level 3: Full integration

The vision for level 3 BIM is to have open data sharing that is accessible and changed by all stakeholders through the planning, construction, and operational stages. The goal is to be fully integrated.

Why is BIM useful?

Higher levels of efficiency

Greater visualisation of plans before construction begins provides architects with the chance to alter plans and contractors to estimate costs for works.

All stakeholders are working on an up-to-date 3D model, reducing the chance for errors.


BIM itself is not a cost saving exercise, but the results of a more collaborative approach to ways of working result in money saved. The more BIM is used, the more cost-effective a project can be. Clear 3D models, instead of drawn blueprints, reduces change orders and offers better collaboration, and coordination between trades from one centralised source of truth.

Virtual or augmented reality

Virtual or augmented reality technologies pair with BIM, providing greater clarity of the final product to all stakeholders. In addition, clients can virtually walk around the 3D model, providing a greater level of customer service.

Digital record keeping

It is a helpful process during a construction project, but it does not stop there. Good digital record keeping means that future facility managers or renovators have a clear lifecycle for a project, from conception to completion.

Greater final results

Planning, designing, building and operating construction project is easier with BIM. Detailed insights throughout the whole process and beyond allows for a higher quality of finish and significantly greater final results.

What is Scan to BIM?

Scan to BIM is a method used to describe capturing a space (usually with LiDAR or similar technology) and turning it into a digital 3D informational model for BIM. This can be used for designing, planning, monitoring or managing a built environment, as well as communicating and sharing information with all project stakeholders.

Why use LiDAR for Scan to BIM?

The primary benefit of Scan to BIM is making sure that you are working, designing, and making decisions from an accurate model, not something that you are assuming is accurate like existing plans. It adds accuracy and a source of truth to the beginning of the project. A big challenge of Scan to BIM is the time is takes for field capture and creating the model. Handheld LiDAR reduces the time it takes to capture accurate point cloud data.

How to best use Scan to BIM?

One of the best ways to maximise the impact is to use Scan to BIM on all stages of a project, right from the beginning. This has a range of benefits, such as:

It can decrease change orders.

It reduces risk by ensuring as-built drawings are correct – if caught earlier it can save wasted time and money.

Clash avoidance runs analytics on model vs. model or model vs. point cloud to see if elements intersect/clash.

When renovating, you can create drawings of spaces, avoiding future costs based on unknowns revealed once work has commenced.

What really stood out was the quality of information captured and incorporated into a BIM representation using REVIT software. It enabled us to achieve a level of accuracy that would have been impossible with manual techniques.
– Paragram | BIM Technology Consultant

How does Scan to BIM work in practice?

Take for example this 45,000 sq. ft hotel in Southern California:

GeoSLAM’s ZEB Horizon collected data from 3 floors, a parking garage and 40 suites over a 45,000 sq/ft area. 5 individual scans of 15-25 minutes took place, processing and merging the data in GeoSLAM software. The team used GeoSLAM’s Draw BIM package to align the data and prepare it for Autodesk Revit. Used as an underlay, the data helps with the development of the BIM, modelled to LOD 300 – architectural, structural, casework, and furniture.

Where: Hotel, Southern California. 3 floors, parking garage, 40 suites over 45,000 square feet. The data was collected in 5 scans, each between 15-25 minutes, using the ZEB Horizon.

GeoSLAM software processes each captured with SLAM and registers them together with the merge tool. Utilising GeoSLAM’s Draw BIM package the data is prepared for use in Autodesk Revit.

GeoSLAM Draw exports an RCP project file for Autodesk Revit, which acts as an underlay for accurate and detailed BIM development.

Development of the model takes place using native tools in Revit.

Modelled to LOD (Level of Development) 300 – Architectural, Structural, Casework and Furniture.

Want to try GeoSLAM LiDAR for yourself?

Find your local dealer to arrange a demonstration.