Overcoming Architectural Services Challenges in UK Housing

May 16 17:42 2018 Kuldeep Bwail Print This Article

The shortage of skilled technical labour required to overcome the architectural challenges of the UK housing sector can be alleviated to a significant extent as a result of outsourcing.

Over the next decade,Guest Posting in the United Kingdom, the population of London alone is expected to increase by 1 million and approximately 40,320 new homes will be required per year. It is expected that by 2021, one hundred thousand new homes will be constructed. However, most homebuyers of new-build homes in England have reportedly experienced construction woes and complaints regarding basic building standards. Reasons for this situation vary, but one of the primary among them is the shortage of skilled technical labour in the UK’s architectural industry, especially those providing architectural design drafting and 3D architectural rendering services. Therefore, it is worth considering the challenges of harnessing these skills and how these challenges can be overcome.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) recently surveyed architects. Findings indicated that more than 60 percent of surveyed architects experienced work delays due to Brexit. They felt the need to expand offshore to pursue more effective methods to meet deadlines. Conclusions drawn indicated that the government should ideally develop new relationships with the country’s largest trading partners. This would open new markets, solve structural challenges facing future growth in the UK and continue the UK’s global architectural reach.

RIBA suggested that the government improve the UK’s status of being an international architectural hub. Ideally, this would mean greater access to the most up-to-date technical talent, trade agreements enabling easy access to foreign markets, infrastructure investment and the easy availability of human resources with thorough knowledge of common standards who execute projects at low costs.

The best talent from around the world has been attributed with driving the expansion of UK architecture. Architects in the UK have used collaboration on projects with great success, and many of such collaborative endeavours saw project planning from concept design to 3D modelling and managing information, using BIM (Building Information Modelling). Advanced construction techniques, such as the use of 3D printed components, are increasingly utilised in the UK. These new techniques require specialised skills and are not always easy to learn. Consequently, firms must have the option of training, attracting and retaining the most productive talent to avoid being left behind. More than 80 percent of RIBA members were of the opinion that access to skilled resources from around the world was vital to the future success of British architecture.

One of the more compelling challenges in the UK’s architectural sector is the dearth of skilled labour. Technically skilled personnel are highly sought after and currently in short supply. This shortage could delay and even halt major building projects. Brexit has only added fuel to the fire, and then there is the steady, silent move to the widespread adoption of the BIM process. Though BIM has been available for over two decades, people have only recently become fully aware of how efficient and streamlined the design, construction and maintenance of buildings becomes through the BIM process. Increasingly, owners want architects and construction companies to execute projects using BIM technology. This is because the implementation of the BIM process would result in certain advantages to the stakeholders concerned. BIM can ultimately benefit costs, help keep to deadlines and improve collaboration. Here’s why:


  • BIM can make the generation, sharing and editing of information easier by reducing the time and effort required.
  • Utilising BIM can help firms offer competitive bids for construction.
  • Better service is provided by using BIM, since it avoids and minimises errors and cuts down on site requests for information.
  • Since sustainability is gaining increasing importance in housing design globally and specifically in the UK, the implementation of the BIM process allows environmental factors to be analysed at a lower cost.
  • BIM can provide seamless collaboration between the build team and all other stakeholders.
  • BIM can save costs and time and improve quality.


Existing Challenges before BIM Adoption

For some time, in the UK and elsewhere, 3D forms were represented by 2D drawings. Before the adoption of the BIM process, plans with construction lines were used to manually depict elevations and sections. Schedules were created manually. Several challenges arose. Among them was the fact that plans, sections and elevations that were created during the course of a project were not linked intelligently. This led to inconsistencies between representations, which then resulted in expensive errors on site. Producing plans, sections and elevations individually was also a lengthy process.

The ‘Before BIM’ process saw flawed 2D representations of 3D forms on occasion. To make sure there were no inconsistencies, lengthy amounts of time had to be spent checking drawings. Revision, editing and monitoring was problematic, and though drawings were classified by levels, the application and management had to be manually performed.


So, some of the challenges that needed to be rectified were:

  • Inconsistent representations after alteration of any individual detail
  • Manual generation of schedules
  • Inability to achieve shapes that work in 3D
  • Lengthy production processes


Why BIM Became Popular

BIM software tools can be used to construct 3D models from 2D drawings, and schedules can be automatically generated. Costing, energy and thermal design, daylight and acoustic planning and construction planning can be fast and accurate with BIM tools.


Gains using BIM include:


  • Consistency and high-quality design
  • Less RFI (Requests for Information) and less problems at site
  • Checking time is reduced
  • Reduced costs, travel, printing and document shipping
  • Information retained in database, even for archived projects
  • Centrally accessible database for all project stakeholders
  • Information sharing between design and knowledge databases
  • 3D models can generate 3D visuals, 3D printing and connect with virtual environments


Though desirable, the implementation of BIM presents a number of challenges in the UK construction sector. They are:


  • Significant resistance to using BIM by certain professionals - They have to be convinced of the potential and value of BIM in delivering clash-free drawings and detailed renderings.
  • Adapting existing workflows
  • Difficulties in training people in BIM or finding staff who understand BIM
  • Difficulties in people who understand the necessary hardware resources and networking facilities to run BIM tools
  • Overcoming challenges between MEP designers/engineers and structural engineers in collaboration and interoperability


Thus, the implementation of BIM to produce precise and detailed architectural drafting and rendering needs a series of changes to established practice. In fact, there may have to be considerable changes at every level of the construction process. New software applications must be learnt, workflows must be altered, employees must be trained and the methods of modelling the building must change.

Outsourcing architectural design, architectural drafting and architectural rendering services has shown a steady rise in popularity in the UK housing arena. Outsourcing, beyond the obvious benefit of lower costs, offers a host of advantages. They include:


  • A large pool of experienced and technically proficient personnel- Dedicated architectural CAD teams who are highly qualified can deliver services faster and with precision.
  • Many years of experience- Budget-friendly companies with 5-10 years’ architectural design and drafting experience are easy to find.
  • BIM platform popularity- Overseas outsourced companies generally have people performing at high levels with sound experience, paving the way for qualified technical expertise at less cost.
  • Certified BIM outsourcing– Outsourcing companies with a minimum certification of ISO9001:2015 are available overseas, some of which are also Autodesk-affiliated centres, ensuring optimum performance and an assurance that these companies are well versed in adherence to country and zonal standards.

Outsourcing firms overseas have proven technical knowhow and in-depth understanding of architectural processes, including the BIM process. These firms can deliver services for every stage of architectural design, such as high-quality architectural drawings, models, computer-generated images and renderings. Thus, the shortage of skilled technical labour required to overcome the architectural services challenges of the UK housing sector can thus be alleviated to a significant extent as a result of outsourcing key architectural services, such as architectural drafting and architectural rendering services.

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About Article Author

Kuldeep Bwail
Kuldeep Bwail

Kuldeep Bwail is a Director at XS CAD Limited, a leading pre-construction planning company providing 3D BIM Modeling to Homebuilders, Architects, Retailers, etc. operating in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Europe and India.

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