Goal: Code Validation

Status of Use Document: Submission


Schematic Design and Design Development


Validate that building design is in compliance with specific codes, e.g. IBC International Building Code, ADA Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and other project related codes using the 3D BIM model.


Code Validation software is utilized to check model parameters against project specific codes. It could be considered a spell check for building models. Code validation is currently in its infant stage of development within the U.S. and is not a widespread use. However, as model checking tools continue to develop and update the software for compliance with more codes, code validation should become more prevalent within the design industry.

Potential Benefits:

[_] Code validation done early in design reduces the chance of code design errors, ommisions or oversights that would be time consuming and more expensive to correct later in design or construction.
[_] Code validation done automatically while design progresses gives more frequent and faster feedback on code compliance and leaves more time for design development.
[_] Reduced turnaround time for 3D BIM model review by local code officials or reduced time that needs to be spent meeting with code commissioners, visiting the site, etc. or fixing code violations during punch list or closeout phase.
[_] Saves time on multiple checking for code compliance and allows for a more efficient design process since mistakes cost time and money.

Levels of Detail Considerations:

  • The level of detail in the model is really basic to check for code compliance and depends on the extent of the code review. An automated review of hallway widths would need to include walls, room designations and floor occupancy. No need for high level of detail or finishes, just dimensions and generic information: walls, floors, stairs, appliances and furnishings that can be even in 2D.

Team Competencies Required:

  • Familiar with BIM authoring tool for design and model checking tool for design review.
  • Ability to use code validation software and previous knowledge and experience with checking codes is needed.

Characteristics in order to substantiate BIM use:

Project - Any project could substantiate code validation, however buildings with high occupancy and high traffic areas would benefit the most. Within a building, typical problem areas such as kitchens and bathrooms require strict code validation, and would benefit from automated code validation.

Organization - No certain project organization is required for code validation. However, as in most cases, IPD integrated project delivery or Design - Build work very well with a BIM project. The architects for a project should have experience using a model checking tool, or if it is their first time performing automated code checking, they should have training and support for the selected program.

Environment - Not a factor. However, the architect will need to adjust model checking codes to the geographic location they are designing for. Perhaps consultants could offer code validation as a service to any architects designing a building in certain geographic locations.

Contract - Code validation is the sole responsibility of the architect, therefore contract type does not affect this use.

Process - Every design process can substantiate the use of code validation.

Potential Modeling Methods:

  • Design Model:
    1. First modeled as a schematic model,
    2. Then developed into a design model.
  • Code validation can occur throughout all phases of design

Potential Outputs:

  • Design models and documents both free of code errors

Legal / Commitment Considerations:

  • Code validation software needs to be constantly updated to comply with new codes in order to avoid missing issues. Manual check can still be performed just in case, since the design office will be liable for any code compliance mistakes in drawings.
  • If code validation relies solely on an automated process, any errors due to the model or model chacking tool may go unforeseen.
  • All code differences per geographic location of building design should be accounted for in the code checking software.

Additional Resources:

General Description: N/A

Quantitative Studies: N/A

Case Study Examples:

  • Jackson Federal Courthouse Case Study (Circulation Validation)

Software Applications:

  • Solibri Model Checker


  1. Automated Circulation Validation using BIM. GSA. 1-22.
  2. Eastman, C., Liston, K., Sacks, R. and Teicholz, P. BIM Handbook: A Guide to Building Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers and Contractors. New York, NY: Wiley, 2008.