July 15, 2024
BIM Design Vs Traditional 2D Design

Technological advances versus the traditional – it’s an age-old dilemma. Which one is better? Well, in the case of the BIM design versus traditional 2D design debate, even traditionalists are voting for the evident benefits of BIM design using architectural CAD services. As several layers of BIM design benefits are unveiled, the way forward becomes ever clearer. Determining how and why BIM design is a more desirable methodology could be vital to increased profits in the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry.

Firstly, what do we mean by BIM design?

An intelligent 3D model-based process, Building Information Modelling, or BIM, provides insight and tools to AEC professionals so that they can efficiently design buildings and infrastructure, while adding data (information) to the models for use downstream. The BIM process involves the creation, evolution and monitoring of digital representations of the physical and functional aspects of building design. This process is enabled through the generation of BIM files containing large amounts of data which can be viewed, changed or communicated to all stakeholders in a project. BIM software can be used to design water, refuse, electricity, gas, communication utilities as well as roads, bridges, tunnels, etc. The BIM process is not restricted to generating just 3D models, but it may provide more dimensions, such as 4D (time), 5D (cost) and 6D (as-built operation). Since the BIM process covers such a wide range of functions, its benefits are many.

Benefits of BIM Design

  • Improved Quality – At any given time of the design process, BIM enables a significant degree of flexibility. The design can be thoroughly explored and changed. Time for coordination and manual checking are minimised, allowing other tasks to be completed.
  • Increased Speed – Design and documentation can be performed simultaneously using the BIM process. Therefore, schedules, diagrams, drawings, estimations, value engineering, planning and other forms of communication are generated while the design process is ongoing, saving time.
  • Reduced Cost – Smaller technical teams can handle work previously performed by larger teams, leading to reduced miscommunication and less cost. Because of greater document quality and more effective planning, time and money are saved on processes.

And now, what is 2D design?

Design elements in 2D design, as its title suggests, are only portrayed in two dimensions, length and width. Typical documents of 2D design consist of the floor plan, the view and the section.

The floor plan consists of the building outline, rooms, structural elements (walls, etc.), furniture, dimensions, altitudes, uncovered spaces, openings (doors, windows), all drawn to scale and as they would be viewed from above. Fixtures, such as sinks, water heaters, furnaces, etc., may also be included, as well as notes for construction. Floor plans are required to make views and sections.

A section is a 2D drawing of what a building would appear as if it was cut down the middle vertically to reveal the interior view. It can show steps, doors, windows, etc. Section drawings and floor plans are of the same scale.

A view is dependent on vantage point. Typically, there are front views, back views, left and right views. A view will consist of floor section lines, visible structural elements, such as doors, windows, balconies, walls, furniture and even plants.

Benefits of 2D Design

When design moved from traditional paper drawings to digital 2D, sketches and drawings became easier and faster to generate and share. Working on a global scale became increasingly easier and more effective.

Drawbacks of 2D Design

Design in 2D is limited due to its nature, and drawings cannot fully explore the vast range of design options properly. Limited information or data can be included in 2D design.

So, how does BIM design compare with 2D design? Some of the key areas where BIM design scores over 2D design are:


There is a great amount of data available, such as aerial imagery, digital elevations and laser scans of existing structures, with BIM design that can be compiled and shared in a model, unlike anything that 2D drawings convey.

Less Rework

Working on a shared model means there is less rework and duplication of drawings. With more information than a 2D drawing, each discipline can annotate and connect to the project in BIM design. With faster tools, BIM design enables a database to be hosted that helps stakeholders know when there are changes or updates, minimising rework.

Increased Collaboration

With a digital workflow, more functions make collaboration easier with BIM design than with 2D design. Many of these functions are delivered in the cloud, BIM 360/Collaboration for Revit (C4R) being one of the solutions. Input on project changes can be reviewed and noted by all stakeholders, increasing collaboration.

Accurate Visualisation

Views of a project in different light conditions and calculating a building’s energy performance are enabled by simulation tools in BIM design. More analysis and modelling can be carried out for effective project design. Renders are created easily in 3D for marketing purposes and to gain approvals.

Improved Conflict Resolution

Elements from different disciplines can clash at some point, for instance an electrical conduit running into a duct or a beam. With BIM design, clashes are identified at an early stage, reducing on-site clashes. This design method also helps ensure prefabricated components fit correctly into previously designed spaces.

Proper Process

BIM design enables the process of design to be coordinated and in the right sequence, with the right materials and resources for greater efficiency.

Work Faster

As the BIM design process involves sharing plans, sections, elevations and reports and updates with the entire project team, the overall design process becomes faster than with a 2D design method.

Easier Accessibility

The BIM design model is connected to a large database, which can be hosted in the cloud. Using BIM 360 software enables this information to be accessed on any device, from any location.

More Effective Communication

Using 2D design, many separate documents are needed to get a complete view of the project. With BIM design, all documents are in a single view, allowing better communication.

Ultimately, 2D CAD services and 3D BIM services are both effective during the course of design, but the advantages of BIM services are too great to ignore. With the easy availability of offshore BIM consulting services, both 3D BIM design and consultancy can be procured easily, reliably and at a profitable cost.