Classifications and BIM, the best of friends

The famous classifications that everyone’s talking about

Many of you have asked me to give an overview of the famous classifications that everyone’s talking about, which are often required even if it’s not always obvious why they exist. Before we consider the different classifications and their advantages, it’s important to know that they existed well before the appearance of BIM. For a long time, players in the construction sector had looked for a way to order their works. This hierarchical categorisation aimed to make it easier and faster to calculate the cost of the building in the upstream phases of the project. Each level of the hierarchy enters into a higher level of detail. The ISO 12006-2 standard explains how this hierarchy works.

In BIM, the different classification systems are assigned to classes of objects. This enables us to name and analyse, but also facilitate management. It’s a fairly standard process that consists of grouping objects that have similar characteristics or behaviours, such as, for example, the windows class. It’s the principle on which the IFC was built. The classification also includes the general hierarchical nomenclatures that are used for, for example, selecting a product by choosing a family, then a sub-family of products and thus accessing the relevant properties. Nomenclature and classification systems are often attached to a market. The latter enables specifics to be taken into account.

Although this isn’t a widespread practice in France, there are notable nomenclatures such as the DTU, the CNEH (French nomenclature of hospital equipment), the RPOPC (Permanent directory of construction works), the nomenclatures of the AQC’s Sycodés (a system for collecting information about defects found across the construction industry) and also the General Table of State Properties (TGPE).

In Europe, Uniclass 2015 is the predominant classification, but each country also has its own system. Sweden primarily uses the BSAB, while in Denmark it’s the CCS (Cuneco Classification System). Germany relies on the VOD classification, and Luxembourg on the CRTI-B, while the SfB system, which is the oldest existing system, is applied in England and Belgium. This system is the origin of Uniclass.

Internationally, EPIC (Electronic Product Information Cooperation) has given rise to OmniClass 23, which, along with Masterformat and Uniformat II, dominates the US market. The most recent classifications all derive from adaptations of old classifications.

BIM&CO allows you to take the OmniClass, Uniclass, and Uniformat II classifications into account.

OmniClass – Table 23 ISO 12006-2 Standard – United States

The OmniClass classification system (OCCS) is a classification system primarily developed for the construction industry, but the Americans also use it for their COBie. It’s used for many applications, such as the organisation of product libraries, documentation and project information, and for electronic databases. There are 15 tables, including 23, which is based on products that BIM&CO offer. This table has a 7-level hierarchy. 

Uniclass – United Kingdom

The Uniclass system is a classification designed to structure information throughout the lifecycle of a project and beyond. It’s approved by all professional construction institutions and organisations.

This dynamic classification is available online in various formats and managed by a team of experts who will monitor enquiries, update and check versions.

Uniformat II – ASTM – United States

The UNIFORMAT II classification helps to improve project management and reporting at every stage of a building’s life cycle: planning, scheduling, design, construction, operations and demolition.

It represents a significant improvement on the original UNIFORMAT classification as it includes elements and descriptions of many elements. It offers a fourth level of definition to the three hierarchical levels provided by the original UNIFORMAT.

Level 1 identifies the main group elements such as the substructure, envelope or the interiors. 

Level 2 subdivides the level 1 elements into group elements. The “Shell”, for example, includes the superstructure, external closures and roof.

Level 3 divides the group elements into individual elements. The external closures, for example, include exterior walls, windows and doors. 

Level 4 offers even finer sub-elements. The IFC sub-elements, for example, include the wall and column foundations, perimeter drainage and insulation.

Valentin Malemanche – Building Specialist