by Joanie Hollabaugh, Sr. Director of Marketing

In the beginning…

While researching some material on BIM construction recently, I began to wonder who or what is responsible for the development of 3D, 4D, and now up to 6D BIM? Literally, who put all the DDDDDDs in BIM?BIM-modeling

Adding time to the OG

Obviously, everyone on the planet understands “3D.” So, when was Time, the 4th dimension of BIM introduced? British industrialist and nobleman, Sir John Egan (interestingly, the CEO of Jaguar cars from 1984-90), was the catalyst for the notion. He proposed that industrial processes and techniques could cross over into the construction industry, in his report Rethinking Construction, published in 1998.

To be wiki-specific, “4D BIM provides construction project visualization, CPM scheduling, supply chain management, cost management, risk management, interoperability with 3D CAD and industry-standard project management software all focused on virtual construction engineering simulation.”

Sir Egan’s vision of adding time to 3D modeling propelled the construction industry into new options. Strategies they had not considered previously – exploring options, managing solutions, and optimizing results. It has the ability to be used in a sequence of events that can be shown on a timeline that has been populated by a 3D model. Talk about a fast train to Profitville!

The 5th dimension

OK, so when did 5D BIM come into play? Again, my little wiki-friend helped me out. “The use of the term 5D is intended to refer to the addition of fourth dimension: time and fifth dimension: cost to the 3D model, i.e. 5D is 3D + schedule (time) + cost.” Or more simply, 4D plus cost.

This is where it gets really interesting. The Fifth Dimension (flashback to the song Wedding Bell Blues) is more of a concept than a product, say like 3D BIM; or a process, like 4D BIM. Five D BIM is described on the internet alternately as a development tool, a workflow, and an applied methodology. Huh?

I found a reference to 5D BIM as far back as 2007, when the AIA talked around it, describing IPD (integrated product delivery). Then in 2009, ASHRAE released “An Introduction to Building Information Modeling (BIM) and included a definition which oddly enough flips the 4D and 5D attributing cost to 4D and time to 5D as observed in a post by Patrick Villella.

6D BIM = Closeout

My conclusion is that 5D BIM cannot be attributed to a source or owner. I have even heard it referred to as “vaporware” around the water cooler. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across 6D BIM! This element actually makes sense to me in that it is a “close out” model. All of the relevant building information is included, kind of a virtual three-ring binder delivered to the owner. It includes all the “product data and details, maintenance/operation manuals, cut sheet specifications, photos, warranty data, web links to product online sources, manufacturer information and contacts, etc.” (Source:

Now that you know who put all the DDDDDDs in BIM, I have big plans to author 7D BIM and create a wiki page with a nebulous description. The seventh dimension will only be viewable through AI Smart glasses, however, and available only to Warren Buffet and Steven Hawking’s hologram.

Or maybe on the 7th D, I will just rest…

In case you feel the need to add D’s you can! Integrate Sage Estimating with AutoDesk Simulate or Manage and also Assemble Systems software you can create 5D BIM modeling. Find out more from Tony Merry at ETHOSystems!


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