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Trimble and RIBA Stages: The Perfect Match for MEP Design

The RIBA Stages form a seamless MEP workflow for MEP Consultants and MEP Contractors in the UK.

The RIBA Work Stages detail the construction sequence of UK projects, from early-stage preparation through to client handover and beyond. Trimble has the MEP software to accompany these stages, ensuring a streamlined flow of constructible data, which makes Trimble and RIBA a perfect match. 

As an MEP contractor, engineer or designer, you are tasked with generating constructible models that reflect exactly what is going to be built. Ensuring dimensional accuracy, high levels of quality and streamlined data are all critical to helping eliminate rework, boost productivity levels and facilitate successful project outcomes on site. Digital workflows can be invaluable, with a suite of products available to support you wherever your business sits on the RIBA Stages of Works, ensuring a flow of quality information.

The RIBA Plan of Work organises the process of briefing, designing, delivering, operating and using a building into eight key stages, offering a framework for all disciplines on construction projects. As an MEP consultant, you’ll likely become involved in a project around RIBA Stage 2 (Concept Design). Nevertheless, we have a short overview about the other stages, too.

3 Keypoints Why Trimble And RIBA Are Perfect for MEP Design

  • The RIBA Work Stages provide a detailed construction sequence, and Trimble offers MEP software to ensure smooth data flow throughout these stages.
  • Efficient coordination and communication are vital between RIBA stages, and a cloud-based collaboration tool in a Common Data Environment (CDE) can enhance this process.
  • Beyond the RIBA design stages, digital MEP solutions significantly aid in estimation and takeoff, optimising both project delivery and profitability.

The RIBA Stages

All activities align with the RIBA Plan of Work 2020, a recognised framework for managing construction projects. The Plan consists of eight stages, each addressing a different phase of a project's lifecycle, from initiation to completion.

Each RIBA Stage (detailed below) encompasses specific tasks, processes, and deliverables, positioning the Plan of Work as a practical management instrument and a guideline for project team members.

Following a structured approach ensures appropriate resource allocation, clear understanding of outcomes, and completion of all project elements to a specified standard. The Plan is versatile, catering to projects of varying sizes and scopes.

The alignment with the RIBA Stages throughout a project's progression is as follows.

RIBA Stage 0 – Strategic Definition

Initially, engagement with the client is necessary to ascertain the project's feasibility. Before the design process commences, the client’s requirements are understood and strategies are determined for optimal achievement. Background research is conducted, the budget and project risks are reviewed, and a business case for the project is developed.

RIBA Stage 1 – Preparation and Brief

At this stage, the brief is documented, the client receives insights into the vision and goals for the project, and details of the project outcomes and spatial requirements are outlined. The project budget is finalised, site information is collected, and a programme and timeline for the project are established. With client approval, the design phase starts.

RIBA Stage 2 – Concept Design

Once the architectural model has been received, the construction sequence will often split into two, with structural engineers tasked with forming the structural model concept and MEP engineers with developing the MEP model concept, leading into RIBA Stage 3 (Spatial Coordination). The structural model and 2D drawings developed at this stage will then be used as the basis of information for MEP detailers and designers at the following RIBA stages, meaning that accuracy is essential.

RIBA Stage 3  Spatial Coordination

Here, MEP calculations are imperative to achieve maximum building efficiency, such as regarding energy consumption, wastewater treatment and space allocation. M&E engineers who use modelling software to perform and generate the most essential calculations benefit from a more efficient and productive workflow. This also translates to fewer errors being encountered later in the project, avoiding the likelihood of installers not being able to install the system due to a poor design. With BIM-generated calculations, you can have peace of mind knowing that your model is accurate, localised and compliant, with minimal fuss.

RIBA Stage 4  Technical Design

The project then moves into RIBA Stage 4: Technical Design. Here, MEP project teams will work on further developing the model, detailing all the design information required to physically manufacture and construct the project on-site and adding great levels of detail to the 3D model.

You need 3D modelling software that supports this RIBA design stage, working with your team, not against you. With an MEP focussed BIM design and engineering software by your side, you can:

  • Improve your design accuracy
  • Increase your engineering productivity
  • Access high-quality content
  • Design to various levels of detail
  • Streamline your internal operations

RIBA Stage 5 – Construction

At this point, all accumulated information and designs are executed on site by a coordinated team of contractors and workers. Site logistics are organised, progress is tracked against the construction programme, and emerging issues are addressed. This stage showcases the convergence of previous efforts!

RIBA Stage 6 – Handover

Upon construction completion, the final handover occurs to the client, concluding the building contract. Project performance undergoes a review, any snagging issues and defects are identified and rectified, and agreed-upon aftercare commences.

RIBA Stage 7 – In Use

At this stage, the building operates and receives proper maintenance. A post-occupancy evaluation assesses the building's performance, marking the end of the Plan of Work process.


RIBA Stages: Coordination and Communication

While the RIBA Plan of Works details individual stages, this is not to say that they can be considered and treated in isolation. Many companies' and teams’ work will overlap between the RIBA design stages. As such, it’s critical that a project has efficient coordination and communication at its heart, with a golden thread of data passing through the whole RIBA architecture workflow.

One way of ensuring this coordination, from stage to stage and team to team, is by having a cloud-based collaboration tool embedded in the project, connecting stakeholders in a Common Data Environment (CDE). With an effective and cloud-based CDE, you can connect the right people to the right data at the right time, with shared constructible data helping to improve insight, enable informed design-making and enhance project efficiency..

Beyond the RIBA Plan of Work

Looking beyond the RIBA design stages, something that isn’t specifically referenced, but all MEP contractors will be well aware of is Estimation and Takeoff. As well as feeding into every RIBA Stage, efficient estimation and contract management is critical for both the project’s successful delivery on-site and your company’s success from a profit perspective.

Whether you are an estimator – responsible for estimating the cost of work to be done, providing solutions to increase profitability and preparing project bids – or a project manager, tasked with overseeing every aspect of a construction project and ensuring that the timeframe targets and project budgets are met; digital MEP solutions can be invaluable. Helping you to say goodbye to manual work, you can instead gain a competitive edge, performing mechanical and electrical estimates faster and more accurately than ever before, providing you time to focus on growing your business.

Trimble and RIBA – The perfect match for MEP Design

To learn more about how MEP Modelling Software can perfectly align with the RIBA Plan of Work and support you and your team throughout a project’s delivery, download our e-book: ‘7 Essential Capabilities of MEP Modelling Software’.