As a builder, you may not be particularly interested in BIM software (BIM, for Building Information Modelling). Perhaps you don’t see it as having much value for your small to mid-sized construction company.
Indeed, the perception is that it’s more of a tool for big companies. This is partly because BIM software helps achieve economies of scale. And, it’s one of the reasons it’s marketed mainly to commercial construction and big projects.
BIM software manufacturers will put emphasis on residential construction
But BIM’s advantages are too substantial to be limited to one segment of the construction industry. Sooner or later, the makers of BIM software will turn the full force of their sales and marketing to the larger portion of the construction market which is homebuilding. When that happens, they’ll make it more appealing, more user-friendly and accessible to all construction professionals.
The Traditional way
The traditional work process in construction, is linear. The usual project flow is from designer/engineer to builder, builder to subcontractors and workers.
In this context, few are seeing the big picture as the project progresses. Everyone is bringing in their skills and experience and working diligently to their standards. But when a tradesman runs into an obstacle, they’ll often rely more on their own experience to work it out instead of communicating back up the line and waiting for a response. There is rarely if ever, time to wait. Here are a few examples of situations that can arise:
- At the urging of the customer, builders will modify plans on the fly, without consulting the engineer
- Dead loads are moved but loads are not recalculated
- Plumbers cut holes in joists without knowledge about joist properties
The BIM approach
BIM, on the other hand, has an opposite approach. All elements of a project are present from the beginning in great detail and made known to the project collaborators. This might seem counter-intuitive for the trades. It basically throws them together all at once to collaborate. However, it’s best to solve problems at the beginning of the process, before anyone puts even on a construction hat.
As the saying goes, measure twice cut once.
BIM will help eliminate
- Discovery of problems on-site and the implementation of ad hoc solutions without seeing the big picture
- Discussion of solutions while the work is on hold
- Waiting for change orders
- Getting engineer approvals
- Leaving behind errors that could be costly several years down the road.
Now that I’ve given you a general idea of the problems BIM can help you avoid, Il talk about how it works in more detail, in my next blog post