Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Construction engineering, Municipal and structural engineering, Architecture engineering, Civil engineering


Despite widespread use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) software used within their industry, the approval of steelwork contractor’s design information is largely based on the approval of 2d-drawings. These workflows can be modernised to take advantage of current technology and provide productivity gains, but barriers to change exist. This research is an attempt to answer the research question of if a model-based approval process, which removes the need for drawings, is achievable. To answer this question, a mixed methodology was used. A literature review was performed to understand how the approval process works, what information is required and what BIM technologies and processes are available. An interoperability test was performed on a typical steelwork BIM model to evaluate if current neutral data exchange exports could capture the required approval information. Thirdly, a quantitative research study was performed, questioning structural engineers operating within the Irish construction industry on what their opinions where on this issue and to understand their concerns around using BIM. The findings were that structural engineers were sceptical on the issue and had strong concerns around BIM contractual issues and other BIM participants. The neutral exchange exports from the steel detailing software “Tekla Structures” were found to be generally good but lacking in key areas. The findings of the literature review, interoperability test and survey results were triangulated to derive a set of requirements to enable a BIM model-based approval process to be acceptable to a significant cohort of Irish AEC sector.