What is a Classification System?


Classification – The action or process of classifying something. A category into which something is put. (Oxford Dictionaries)


Classification is a method of putting something into a group or category. Grouping things together is very natural to us. We find it easy, sometimes too easy, to group things. We group people according to nationality, gender or race, we group movies according to genres, ratings or director and we group cars according to engine type, manufacturer and use.

Categorisation happens all the time in the real world. We are always developing new classifications that enable us to group together people. It often happens around election times when we have seen new groups of target voters. In 2013, as the UK Conservative Party identified six key groups of voters; anxious aspirationals, in play centre, steady conservatives, disaffected tories, young inner-city dwellers and urban strugglers. The grouping of voters allows us to develop a mental model of the different groups which helps us to understand the differences and the motivations of each of the groups.

Classifications can be binary, something either fits clearly within one classification or another classification. However, it’s usually not that simple. Often, examples will not fit completely within one group, but will have shared traits. We still like to use a single classification, but the one that fits best becomes subjective.



Why Use Classifications?

Classifications make it easier for us to manage our data. Non-fiction books in libraries are classified using the Dewey Decimal Classification system, locating relevant books within libraries (and certainly pre-internet) was made significantly easier with the classification system.

Classifications, both formal and informal, are widely used throughout most if not all business sectors. When you become aware of the basics of what a classification system is, you notice them everywhere. Amazon adds the items that it sells to categories. Cars are categorised according to their use, small family, large family, MPV, 4WD, estate and people carrier. Our houses are categorised into bands for the amount of council tax that we pay.

Classifications enable us to group together similar items within our BIM models.

This could be grouping together similar spaces or similar objects. We add classification tags to the spaces and objects so we can search effectively within the model.

Ideally, the classification tags we add to our spaces and objects are selected from a standard, widely used list of classifications. Although, this isn’t always the case. A standard classification system may not be suitable for your needs if, for example, it doesn’t contain the groupings you require, so you would need a full or partial bespoke classification system.



Benefits of BIM Classification System

We know that classification groups similar things together. For our BIM models, classification provides a consistent and uniform language to identify what an object is.

The consistency of a classification system moves beyond the grouping of objects in a single model. It also provides consistency between all of your projects and all of your BIM models.

This means you can directly compare information between projects. So if you want to know the percentage of circulation spaces such as corridors to occupied spaces in your current project and how this compares with previous projects, this becomes an easy task. Or you could instantly establish the number of distribution boards in a project, which can be used to indicate how many you will have in a new similar project.

The use of classification enables us to search, navigate and analyse data within a model in a simplified way.


Other Relevant Resources:

Classifications – The BIM Enabler (Article)

BIMToolbox (Free BIM Resources)

BIM for Estates (Our Amazon Best-Selling Book)


Author: Ian Yeo
Editor: Alison Rolfe
Published: 12 Dec 2018
Last Updated: 15 Jan 2019



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