Document Type



This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only


Building information modeling (BIM) and 3D software design tools have been proffered as a significant technical advance on traditional design methods for the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) sector. However, there seems to be contrasting BIM related information regarding its potential benefits, who gains from those benefits, and the best implementation methods for BIM Level 2. The purpose of this paper was to establish if implementing BIM 3D design softwares has some standalone benefits for a MEP design office still working in traditional design methods, irrespective of BIM Level 2. Once this was established, the paper investigated if 3D software design implementation could be an efficient first step towards the introduction of BIM Level 2 for a MEP design company. A mixed method research methodology was used. A literature review was carried out on traditional design methods, on BIM based design methods, and on BIM implementation methods and potential barriers. A design analysis comparison study was carried out on the design of a ducted heating, cooling, air conditioning (HVAC) system for an office building. The comparison of results generated from traditional design methods against those generated from the BIM design tool MagiCAD was carried out and analysed. Qualitative research was also carried out through interviews with a number of experienced MEP designers. Through triangulation of the data collected from these three research methods, the findings of this report were that BIM 3D design tool implementation offers many benefits to a MEP design office, whether considering full BIM Level 2 implementation or not. However, if 3D modeling was a good first step to BIM implementation was less clear. What was apparent however was that the proper managing and controlling of the steps to BIM Level 2 implementation is arguably even more critical than deciding on the actual first step.