It’s a question of sound strategy in the construction industry. Using BIM (Building Information Modelling) helps prevent construction firms from being ‘penny wise and pound foolish’. Traditional CAD (computer-aided design) technology has served the industry well, but the emergence of BIM technology and 3D BIM services on the construction scene has transformed project planning to a new high. The advantages of 3D BIM modelling services and BIM coordination services are many, including overall construction cost savings, and these advantages far outweigh the initial expense involved in incorporating a BIM workflow.
So, how did CAD technology help provide design services and how does BIM differ?
Both the features and working methods are different. To represent design details in CAD, designers needed to draw many lines, polylines and geometrical shapes to represent doors, windows, walls, columns, etc. in floor plans, elevation views, cross-sections, etc. With BIM technology, the same details can be represented using 3D graphical objects with a host of properties and functions. Detailed working drawings and construction documents can thus be developed automatically with these intelligent objects.
Using CAD software packages, novices can use its tools to create 2D drawings and basic 3D models. Experienced users can develop them into complex models, and CAD software can even help find errors. Some CAD packages also create documentation, but the advantages of BIM, though, are far more extensive.
They include the following:
- Saving Time
Using BIM software, lines and related features can be updated throughout the project, leaving designers with time to devote to the project’s creativity. Objects from a BIM menu have predefined data that can be used to calculate project costs, thermal performance, maintenance costs and structural costs, leading to considerable savings in construction time and costs, rather than discovering these costs on an ad-hoc basis for each project.
- Reducing Errors
When there are changes in a project’s floor plans, elevations or section views, those changes are incorporated into all related project features automatically. For example, if a building façade’s finish is altered, changes are implemented automatically for the wall’s transmittance value, its cost and its structural load. Using BIM technology, mistakes can be avoided, and most importantly, all the drawings will be updated immediately with any revisions, saving overall construction costs.
- Integrating with Design Aspects
Once a BIM model is created, data can be added that enables complete integration with :
- structural calculations
- energy performance calculations
- construction estimating
- technical installations
- maintenance and facility management
This feature of BIM technology saves significant effort and time, which translates into cost savings.
- Representing Completely
A building’s design is completely represented using BIM methods. In addition to the building’s core components, BIM technology enables the design of MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) systems, helping the project team use space and resources to their best advantage. Ultimately, this results in saving construction expenses.
- Working Simultaneously
A single database can host all the documents in a BIM environment, so that several project stakeholders can access, modify and work on the same model and save their work to the cloud. This facilitates instant updates, and there is no need to spend time searching for documents that require changes.
- Prefabricating Components
Components can be prefabricated early in the construction process, using BIM models. In case the building design changes, the components can still be used, saving both time and money.
- Updating Constantly
Constantly and automatically updating documents and models allows clients the freedom to check the design at any time, which can lead to quick approvals and implementation.
- Tracking Resources
Using BIM models, it becomes easy to track the required quantity of resources during any of the design stages, improving the efficiency of the construction workflow and saving costs.
These advantages come with a cost, especially during the initial stage of establishing a BIM methodology. The BIM-enabled software options can be expensive. The new work methodology using BIM technology necessitates investment in new technology and training to use it. For smaller firms, this may seem to be an excessive and avoidable expense.
However, choosing to go the BIM way can be critical to profitable gains, and the selection of BIM software is a key factor. The current popular choice, Revit, can be used in combination with rendering and virtual reality packages to create detailed and complex models.
All aspects of a project’s workflow are affected by the BIM methodology. Therefore, training is important for everyone involved. In some cases, it may take up to 3 months to develop an understanding of BIM.
So, how can the cost of BIM be calculated?
In addition to depicting different trades in a coordinated model, BIM technology can provide much more. It can be confusing to decide how to best calculate the cost of BIM technology and services. The following factors are key considerations:
- Services Wanted
Firms must decide what services they want, such as:
- BIM Modelling Services
- BIM Consulting Services
- BIM Project Management Services
- BIM Preconstruction Services
- BIM Facility Management
- To Outsource or Not
Certain basic costs must be met for any project, such as employing a project BIM manager and coordinator, and these costs may not be easily affordable for some firms. Many consider outsourcing the required services to offshore destinations, where they can be delivered at a more affordable rate and still maintain high standards of quality.
- Charges for BIM Methods
It’s important to understand how BIM services providers charge for their services. Two methods that are more commonly used are:
- BIM Price per Sq.m – charges are for the built-up area of the project, based on the requested Level of Development (LOD) and the required trades.
- BIM Price per Hour – charges are based on an estimation of the expected hours for the service for a specific scope
How does BIM save project costs in the long run? Well, these are some of the ways:
- Effective specification of the building plan using BIM means that the right choice of building materials will be used. They will have the right thermal performance, be of the right quantity and of the right price.
- Identifying errors at the design stage in a BIM format will cost less than rectifying them during the construction process.
- Proper planning in a BIM process ensures that a detailed schedule of materials is generated. Suppliers can be provided a complete schedule, which means that deals can be negotiated early on and reordering can be avoided due to supplies running short.
- Projects can be delivered within specified time schedules, using the BIM process, so that costs are saved on labour and any penalties for overshooting the delivery date.
- Designing, detailing and estimating at the same time helps save time, which always saves money.
- Costs associated with re-drawing, re-scheduling and re-estimating are saved using the BIM methodology.
- Errors and data loss are minimised or even eliminated, since details and costs are updated automatically for any changes in the drawing while using BIM technology.
The advantages of using BIM are too many and too far-reaching to discount. With the right BIM service providers, a range of residential design drawings, residential construction drawings, architectural BIM services, 3D BIM modelling services and BIM coordination services can be availed at a reasonable cost, without compromising on quality. Global options for 3D BIM services offer partnerships with experienced, technically well-qualified and cost-efficient partners who will deliver on time and within budget. So, even if the initial costs for implementing a BIM methodology may be slightly expensive, it is bound to save certain construction costs in the long run.