Building Information Modeling (BIM) can trace its roots back to the 1970s, but the process didn’t gain significant traction until the early 2000s. While BIM has evolved and most architecture firms are using it, it isn’t fully required worldwide, despite the benefits it produces for project teams and the public. In the US, BIM has been mandatory on public projects since 2008, and it’s been recommended by the European Union on projects they fund. But certain countries are lagging behind. Despite widespread use, BIM won’t be mandatory in Germany until at least 2020.
We all know buildings are becoming more complicated as we incorporate modern systems and technology into designs. With BIM, complexities are simply easier to manage. The reasons architects, contractors, and developers choose to use BIM may be common sense at this point, especially for those of you out there who have been operating for 15-20 years. In case you need a refresher, though, here are some top benefits to keep in mind so you can use BIM effectively and build more successful projects.
Efficiency and productivity are buzzwords in any business setting. BIM can increase efficiency on a building project and make the design phase more productive in a variety of ways. For starters, BIM helps cut down on labor—both in terms of people and time. Traditional design and construction methods that don’t include BIM require a huge slate of employees and working hours to draw up and revise plans.
BIM brings together all of a building’s complex systems. When a small change to one system is required, models can automatically adjust, cutting out the need to spend time reworking plans for related systems. It’s ability to sequence steps with submodels can lead to a timelier construction process, too. BIM saves time because it makes collaboration easier (don’t worry, there’s more on this later) and timelier. Sharing files across project teams means fewer lengthy meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges.
Reduced labor needs and quicker timelines point to slimmer budgets, of course, and saving money is a big indicator of efficiency. Using BIM can help you save money in other ways as well. Modeling can eliminate expensive change orders that often pop up past the early design phase. It also leads to stronger relationships and communication between architects and contractors that could reduce insurance costs down the line.
It may seem silly or unrealistic that a technological process like BIM can improve person-to-person relationships, but it’s true. Modeling creates an easily sharable chain of information and documentation. Without BIM, consultants, architects, and contractors tend to create separate drawings that fall in line with their own specification needs. Not only does this mean additional work for all stakeholders, but often, it means important details are missed or changed. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Fewer elements are lost in translation when a project team is working with BIM, as models can be saved, shared, and updated digitally in real time. Collaborators can easily check in on the progress of project elements with BIM files, meaning there is increased accountability amongst team members to do their jobs well, on time, and without interference. Historical documentation features also help when disagreements arise amongst collaborators. A detailed record of changes is saved automatically, so you can easily clear the air.
With BIM, teams can be on the same page, operating with mutual understanding of the goals, specifications, and changes to a project. Of course, no project team is perfect and problems will probably still arise, but using BIM is a good starting point that can inspire a more effective partnerships now and in the future.
The biggest benefits of BIM may have nothing to do with the project you’re working on right now. That may seem strange, but think about it for just a minute. If you use models in every project you do over the course of a single year, consider all the data you have just waiting to be used to inform your upcoming projects. You can replicate models or submodels, making quick adjustments to suit the new building’s needs or improve it.
Information modeling allows you to extend into other technological realms, too. At this point, BIM software can integrate with pretty much any other type you may need use on a project. Importantly, the big win here is with building simulation tools. Artificially intelligent platforms can utilize 2D and 3D models to yield design optimizations that will make your buildings more comfortable, cost-effective, and sustainable.
Ultimately, using BIM opens up the possibilities for enhancing your building project processes. So not only will your buildings improve, but your entire collaborative workflow will also.