BIM Investment, Returns, and Risks in China’s AEC Industries

Ruoyu Jin, Craig Hancock, Llewellyn Tang, Dariusz Wanatowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building Information Modeling, or BIM, the emerging digital technology, is undergoing increasing application in developing countries including China. Both the governmental policy and industry motivation have indicated that BIM is becoming the mainstream innovation in China's construction industry. Nevertheless, one major concern lies in the uncertainty of BIM investment for AEC firms. Specifically, AEC firms should have the knowledge of what areas BIM investment could focus on (e.g., BIM software), what are the expected returns from BIM investment, how to enhance the returns from BIM usage, and what are the risks in implementing BIM. This study adopts a questionnaire survey-based approach to address these BIM application and risk related concerns in China. BIM practitioners from multiple AEC fields and different experience levels were recruited as the survey sample. It was found from the questionnaire survey that both internal and external collaboration should be the BIM investment priority, together with the interoperability among multiple BIM software tools. Improved multiparty communication and understanding was the highest recognized return from BIM investment. Survey participants had a high expectation of BIM application in green building projects. Subgroup analysis conveyed the information that gaining BIM practical experience would provide professionals with more confidence on returns from BIM adoption in enhancing communication and understanding. Compared to survey participants from other professions, architects tended to have more conservative views on BIM's impact on marketing their work, project planning, and recruiting/retaining employees. The findings from this empirical study provide an overview of BIM investment, return, and implementation-related risks for AEC professionals at different stages or levels of BIM practice, as well as suggestions for relevant public authorities when developing BIM guidelines (e.g., BIM applications in prefabrication construction). As an extension of existing BIM implementation related studies in developed countries, this study provides insights of BIM practical experience and associated risks in China adopting a holistic approach by summarizing the perceptions from AEC professionals across disciplines and experience levels. The knowledge gained from this study could be further applied in other developing countries where the application of information technology is gaining the growth in AEC projects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2017

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