What at first seems like a much more complex and time-consuming process, the use of BIM models in the construction industry actually saves time, and ultimately reduces cost to complete construction.
For the past few years, architects and designers have been designing buildings almost solely using Autodesk Revit, or other similar 3D modeling programs. By now, much of the AEC industry has at least heard of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and how contractors are using it to the advantage of the construction process. More and more construction project management teams are taking the designers’ 3D building models into the construction process and using them to better communicate project design and constructability. Let’s review, starting with the basics and moving to more advanced usage:
At its very basic, BIM provides better project visualization. Designers and constructors tend to be visually-oriented, and most can easily visualize 2D drawings as the final 3D product. However, many project owners and those outside of the AEC industry aren’t always able to visualize the spatial quality of a 2D drawing. A 3D model of a project allows project stakeholders to not only understand what a project will look like, but also the detail of what will go into building the project.
Communication And Collaboration
Better visualization brings better communication and collaboration. Because designers and engineers are designing in 3D, the components of a building are brought to life. Designers and engineers are able to merge their 3D models to form a complete visualization of a building solution, from outer shell, to structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and interior finishes. Major project stakeholders, such as the project owner, can more easily assess the building and inform design decisions – from selecting exterior cladding to interior paint finishes.
Using BIM reduces waste and reduces rework in the field during construction. This is true for all building components, though particularly important for Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing components that are often installed near each other. These components are often executed on a design-build basis, and drawings don’t always get perfectly coordinated. While it takes more time up front to model these components in 3D, it saves a lot of time and money during construction. This is because it is rare for a building to be constructed without at least one design conflict or change. BIM can eliminate the need to tear out a newly-constructed item when it clashes with another building component under construction.
This is another area where more time spent up front in design and planning benefits building construction. It is also where information management becomes very important because the 3D model is extremely detailed or conditioned. The more detailed a 3D model, the faster the output of the cost estimate. As most estimators already know, a dedicated estimating software spreadsheet and database will cut estimating time in half. Add in an accurate, well-conditioned, 3D model and estimating time can often be cut in half again, because the exact building dimensions are already connected to the exact specifications of each building component in the 3D model.
From design to estimate and proposal to construction, BIM really shines by allowing project stakeholders to fully coordinate building components in 3D prior to the construction phase. It helps cut down on change orders, clashes, and time spent revising designs due to unexpected results. Not only does it benefit stakeholders, but the Preconstruction team as well by allowing quick takeoff from well-conditioned BIM models.
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