Traditionally, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been viewed as a tool for designers, architects, and engineers. Increasingly, however, its use has been extended into construction and operations.
This transition has raised two important questions: Who exactly is BIM for? And who specifically is BIM in construction for?
The Benefits of BIM in Construction
A SmartMarket report by McGraw Construction says that the biggest beneficiaries of BIM are the owners.
“Even when not actively involved in their project teams’ use of it, BIM accrues powerful benefits to the owners,” reads the report. “In fact, the top BIM benefits consistently identified by design and construction firms in McGraw Hill Construction’s past BIM research actually generate even greater positives for their owners.”
Those benefits include:
- Visualization that better engages clients and aligns expectations
- Analyses and simulations that improve design solutions
- Spatial coordination that reduces rework and enables prefab
- Speed and quality improvements
- Better scheduling
Until the past few years, most of these benefits were reserved for the design and planning phases of construction. However, with BIM 360 those benefits can be extended into the construction and operations phases.
BIM in Construction, traditionally a tool for planning and design phases, is now a significant part of the build process
For construction companies, BIM improves scheduling, reduces rework, speeds communication, and assures higher quality, all of which benefits accrue both to the GC and to the owner.
In short, BIM is for owners, but by extension, it is for the entire building development and maintenance team, from designers and planners to construction teams and building operations personnel.
Even if you consider only the construction phase, BIM provides benefits to many different parties.
Who is BIM in Construction For?
BIM is most useful in construction when everyone on every project has access to its benefits. In the office, BIM permits better scheduling, change order management, issue resolution, client communication, and budgeting.
In the field, when subs and tradespeople have BIM information available on their mobile devices, they’re better able to understand the intent of 2D plans and apply that understanding to completing the work as intended.
BIM in construction allows everyone from owner to subcontractor to work from a 'single source of truth'
Furthermore, all of the information gathered by BIM during construction can be aggregated to improve performance during the project and on future projects.
Ultimately, the owner benefits from the project remaining on schedule, on budget, and at the highest possible quality. They also appreciate the transparency it gives them into the process, which can also reduce the amount of time the GC invests in communication updates.
In short, when BIM in construction is used to its highest potential, it is for everyone.
What Type of Project Is BIM For?
While BIM in construction provides a large number of valuable benefits, it does represent an investment and requires coordination and planning to implement. For this reason, some contractors hesitate to deploy it and may ask what type of projects BIM in construction is best used for.
Large, complex projects like the New Luis Eduardo Aybar Hospital in the Caribbean is well suited to BIM in construction and has certainly reaped the benefits. Across the life cycle of a complex project, BIM in construction can save millions of dollars and allow completion within time constraints that would have been impossible even ten years ago.
But even smaller projects benefit from the use of BIM in construction. Today’s construction sites are more complex than ever before. Codes, regulations, building materials, technology, infrastructure–all of these things impact the complexity of plans and construction.
Though BIM has traditionally been thought of as a tool for architects and planners, the reality is that today’s BIM is for everyone
BIM can help coordinate that while also improving quality and safety. The reality is that some companies are embracing it on projects of all sizes and types, and enjoying the cost savings, time savings, and other benefits. Companies that fail to embrace it will find it increasingly difficult to compete with those that have, no matter the size or type of project.
In some countries, such as the UK and other parts of Europe, BIM is required to be used in construction. This legal environment exists because those countries recognize the vast benefits to be gained, and the importance to every stakeholder of those benefits.
So while BIM has traditionally been thought of as a tool for architects and planners, the reality is that today’s BIM is for everyone: Owners, planners, architects, inspectors, GCs, subcontractors, tradespeople, facility managers, maintenance people, and anyone who uses or enjoys the facility over the course of its lifecycle.