Today's construction industry relies heavily on high-performing building information modelling (BIM) systems. By deploying the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) as a description language, these systems offer building information in a widely interoperable format, so that several applications are able to infer extra information. For a certain functionality, IFC shows limitations however. Existing semantic web technology may be able to overcome these limitations, thereby enabling a range of significant improvements and possibilities for automation in building design and construction. This paper gives a short overview of the functionality of IFC as a language, compared to the functionality of languages deployed in the semantic web domain. The improvements generated by deploying semantic web languages are briefly discussed, after which a concrete implementation approach is presented for a semantic rule checking environment for building design and construction. An implemented test case for acoustic performance checking illustrates the improvements of such an environment compared to traditionally deployed approaches in rule checking.