Technical and Contractual Risks Associated with BIM

Blog-14thApril-2017BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a perfect solution for architects, design and construction teams to address design implementation challenges. 3D BIM coordination facilitates an evolving workflow, interoperability and collaboration between different project stakeholders. This has widened the scope and application of concept design, design development, implementation and project delivery methods.

With 3D BIM coordination, you can collaborate with designers, engineers, building services contractors and general contractors to communicate design intent and ensure the project is implemented efficiently from preconstruction concept review to construction completion. When collaboration happens at this scale, you need to consider the associated technical and contractual risks before you adopt BIM tools:

1.Data control – When using 3D BIM models, you may have different users entering data at various stages of a project lifecycle. To ensure there is responsibility for inaccuracies and control of data entry, you must ensure BIM users sign applicable indemnities, disclaimers and warranties. This will help you in controlling the movement of data and assigning responsibilities.

2.Assignment of responsibilities – Typically in BIM projects, many team members collaborate and ownership of BIM data must be clearly stated. To avoid conflict and confusion, you need to create contract documents that should clearly define ownership and assign responsibilities when using BIM data.

3.Proprietary information protection – In the process of design development and project implementation, proprietary information may be used by team members. While your client may have ownership rights for the design, contract documents need to clearly state the ownership rights of proprietary information to ensure protection.

4.Design licensing – In certain projects, designers and contractors may provide vendor designs and specifications of material and equipment. In such instances, you need to create policies to ensure that only those designs with relevant licenses for the project are used. This will help you in avoiding licensing issues of vendor designs associated with their products.

5.Consistency in the use of technology – When adopting BIM modeling and coordination processes, to maintain an efficient and smooth workflow, you need to ensure that different project stakeholders, who need to work collaboratively, are using software versions that are compatible. All users must be informed about changes in versions and software updates. Based on the BIM environment you choose, whether closed BIM (the use of the same software and version) or open BIM (the use of neutral or compatible file formats), you need to make sure this selection is agreed at the outset of the project. This will help in avoiding compatibility issues that may arise in the later stages of the project lifecycle.

In any collaborative environment, clearly defining responsibilities and rules will help in improving teamwork of various project stakeholders. You may adopt an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) strategy to build successful working relationships and facilitate efficient collaboration between your entire design, engineering and construction teams. While there is no secret formula or a common risk mitigation strategy, you can reduce conflicts and confusion by adopting best practices and creating well-defined contracts. By clearly specifying the roles, responsibilities and accountable members or groups, it will help you to create a successful collaborative environment and embrace an evolving concept such as 3D BIM coordination.

With BIM modeling you can improve the process of concept design, design development and communication of design concept to project stakeholders and clients. As new BIM technology is introduced, the next step would be to adopt a cloud-based BIM collaboration tool, such as A360 Collaboration for Revit (C4R). With cloud-based BIM tools, you can facilitate ‘borderless’ collaboration and allow project stakeholders to work on a model simultaneously from different sites, anywhere, anytime and on any device. By adopting BIM, you can improve collaboration between project teams, optimise project duration, reduce cost and strengthen client relationship.

Why BIM is becoming important for Retail Design?

Across global the retail markets are facing unprecedented challenges from within their sector and also from new e-commerce sectors. Retailers that are successful are aware that this success can be short lived and therefore expansion and roll out of their outlets can sometimes become a limitation for success are aware that Assuming that the challenge is indeed speed to market, for retailers, it is paramount to adopt a design planning process which can help them develop retail ideas that are versatile, clash-free and efficient to build/install within a planned budget. This is where BIM can start to provide significant benefits due to the ease of operation, use of a database of library items and the benefit of repeatability of the design concept.

BIM can be beneficial for the entire retail property development chain from design consultants and architects, to MEP installers and facility managers. If it is used effectively it can lead to faster scale up, design accuracy, higher design flexibility and cost efficiency. Whilst it does take some take and effort to convert conventional CAD drafting processes, blocks and templates to parametric BIM retail design techniques, once done BIM can help retailers to design faster and more accurately. A few of the key benefits of retail design with BIM are discussed in more detail below.

Rapid Development of Design and Construction Documents:

Conventional CAD drafting techniques for building design require different trades to create separate drawings, which sometimes stack up too many inconsistent documents as they are incomplete, usually without a lot of information that may be created by other skilled parties, such as quantity surveyors. This information is usually mandatory for building construction and includes specifications, bill of materials, cost modelling and schedule data. Not only does a BIM model provide this data, freeing up QS (quantity surveyor) resource, it also provides information from the 3d model that contains intelligent data related to design intent and construction and facilities management information. The major stakeholders will typically receive the data that is combined within a master BIM model to then extract further use and benefit from the design model.

Although the success of retail BIM projects depends on the acceptance levels of all the project participants to perceive BIM as a future-ready tool, the actual benefit of BIM lies in its ability to assist in extraction of various documents, data and views including plans, sections, elevations, renderings, bill of quantities (BOQ), material costs and time schedule, all within record time. All this results in quicker, on-demand data extraction and generation from BIM models for any construction-related designs or drawings.

Development of Standardized Re-usable BIM Families:

To maintain consistency, a retailer may use typical fixtures and fittings across their retail network as retail industry primarily focuses on brand image and brand appearance. Retail design teams, with the help of BIM teams, are able to create standardized libraries of BIM for fixtures and fittings which, with further modifications can be used when designing and planning new outlets, thus enabling retail owners to maintain exclusivity with regards to visual elements, consumer experiences and shoplifting layouts. The design team, keeps BIM libraries updated for various unique outlet chains which help in saving time during conceptual and detail design stages whilst boosting efficiency ratios.

For example, consistency within all the outlets can be maintained by keeping the key retail architectural elements uniform with the help of BIM families which leaves scope for tweaking other architectural details and regional elements.

Creating Store Prototype Models that Can Be Localized:

When developing new prototype store designs, BIM proves to be a valuable asset to retailers BIM prototypes not only offer 3D visualisation prowess but also provide a quality database which consists of detailed information on crucial aspects such as materials, fixtures, components, cost estimation and quantity take-offs. As compared to traditional CAD drafting methods, intuitive and elaborate prototypes like these, accelerate the roll out of new store designs.

In summary, using design standards, fixtures, fittings and brand guidelines in a BIM environment as opposed to a CAD environment may incur an up-front cost and time contribution, but the benefit for mass roll out using a library of intelligent components will significantly reduce overall design time and also improve accuracy of project drawings and project data – providing greater certainly for construction teams and also costing teams.

How Open BIM Facilitates Collaborative Design?

Due to its multifaceted benefits, building information modelling (BIM) is rapidly gaining traction in the AEC industry as the key pre-construction planning, construction management, and post-construction facilities management tool. Whilst many firms have transitioned to this ‘intelligent’ model-based process, the ‘real’ potential of BIM can only be achieved by open exchange of design and non-design project information amongst key project stakeholders: architects, structural engineers, MEP design consultants, MEP engineers, and other trade subcontractors.

A common challenge faced by mid-sized to large projects is that not all project participants use the same BIM application. This is where the concept of closed BIM and open BIM comes into play. The above two approaches are fundamentally different ways of looking at 3D BIM modelling.

Closed BIM, also known as ‘lonely BIM’, is a BIM environment wherein the same version of a BIM application is used by all key project stakeholders. This approach may also include different trades using the BIM-compatible applications from the same vendor. As a case in point, the lead architect uses Revit Architecture to model architectural elements. The structural engineer uses Revit Structure to take the architectural BIM model as the reference and define the building’s structure whilst the MEP design consultant uses Revit MEP to model building services. Although no file conversion is required in the closed BIM approach, the process is restrictive in the sense that it only allows project participants well-versed with certain BIM tools to collaborate, thereby not allowing ‘true’ integration.

On the other hand, open BIM is a workflow wherein all participants can collaborate and exchange project information with each other using non-proprietary, neutral file formats irrespective of the BIM tools and applications they use. The information exchanged is not only limited to the BIM model’s geometric data but also includes other parametric data, such as specifications, quantity take-offs, material procurement, cost estimation, and construction phasing. Most common open BIM protocols currently in use include Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie).

Whilst IFC allows exchange of both geometric and non-design data amongst different applications that support open BIM, COBie only allows facilities management data to be exchanged. Using IFC, the architectural BIM model created by the lead architect’s design team in Graphisoft ArchiCAD can be opened and manipulated by the structural engineer when his/her team works in Tekla Structures. Similarly, the integrated architectural and structural BIM model can be imported into Revit MEP platform by the lead MEP consultant. Once the detailed MEP design is complete, the federated model can be taken into a clash detection and 3D BIM coordination tool, such as Navisworks again using IFC format. This leads to workflow-level collaboration amongst key project members which is the essence of BIM compared to the conventional 2D CAD workflows.

At XS CAD, we have an extensive know-how of both open BIM and closed BIM methodologies due to the fact that we have provided 3D BIM modelling and 3D BIM coordination support to architects, MEP engineers, and contractors in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and India. To find out more about how your project can benefit from our BIM modelling services, contact us.

As-Built Construction Assets: Key to Future Planning and Facilities Management

Preparing ‘as-built’ drawings and models is certainly one of the most crucial requirements of any design-build project. These final set of construction assets validates how the contractor built the structure including all the changes and modifications that were made in the process. The finalised drawings and models are passed on from the contractors to the building owners and property managers.

The set of as-built drawings and models, though underestimated and neglected, broadly serve a dual purpose. Firstly, the as-built drawings and models act as a guidebook to the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) firms that are contracted for renovation and refurbishment of an existing structure. So, the time, cost, and resources that would have been utilised during pre-renovation survey are saved. Secondly, they help owners and facilities managers to conveniently undertake maintenance and refurbishment activities besides helping them during emergency situations e.g. for rapid evacuation.

Whereas data-rich as-built 3D building information models have obvious benefits over 2D drawing sets, the decision to choose one over the other mainly involves factors, such as the scale of the project, owner’s preference, and the design-build teaming structure. The owners of relatively small building projects may prefer 2D as-built drawings of an existing building, prepared by a technician after collecting accurate data on site. On the contrary, large-scale design-build and renovation projects may require BIM-driven as-built 3D models.

Assuming that the project in question has not had a BIM model for the design process which is then updated during the as-built stage of the project, there are two typical ways of preparing as-built BIM models. Firstly, using the as-built drawings and other construction drawing sets as the starting point, 3D BIM models can be prepared using applications such as Autodesk Revit. The second method involves the Scan to BIM technique where point cloud data of the structures. This point cloud data is then converted into an intelligent BIM model using tools such as Cloudworx and Scan to BIM applications such as Revit.

The as-built drawings and BIM models serve as a comprehensive reference tool for owners and property managers. They benefit from these as-built drawings and models in the following ways:-

  • The finalised as-built construction assets make future project planning, including renovations, extensions, and redevelopments, convenient and cost effective for the owners.
  • Since the as-built drawings and BIM models contain complete details related to dimensions, fabrication, erection, elevations, sizing, materials, location, and mechanical/electrical/plumbing utilities, the owners can use this data and conveniently manage facilities within budget.
  • The owners can use these as-built assets to resolve disputes regarding insurance claims. In case of a massive loss due to extreme disasters, the insurance company will require extensive documentation, including the as-built drawings and models to support your claims.

As the as-built drawings and models are prepared by combining the drawings/models of all the building services, the owners and property managers can schedule maintenance operations of the building’s MEP (M&E) systems in a timely manner.

BIM-Enabled IPD: A Win-Win for Owners and Project Stakeholders

The building and construction industry is faced with a multitude of challenges in areas, ranging from design planning, construction administration and budgeting, to scheduling and facilities management. To add to this, the demands from owners’ regards to timely completion, cost efficiency, constructability and energy performance are becoming increasingly stringent. As a result, multidisciplinary coordination between all the parties involved in an AEC project right from design planning through to on-site construction, administration is paramount to meet these demands.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) framework, if implemented appropriately, can ensure ongoing collaboration between diverse stakeholders, including the client, the architect, the main contractor, the MEP designer and the MEP contractor at all the stages of the project from conception to completion. As defined by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a process that “collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all the participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.”

A crucial element of the IPD approach is the adoption of building information modelling (BIM) technology. Unlike traditional project delivery methods, the essence of BIM technology is the central parametric model that is developed using 3D input, often times separate BIM models, from different parties involved in an AEC project. By enabling greater collaboration and information-sharing between different participants, data-rich BIM models drive the IPD framework and improve decision-making ability that can positively impact the project’s outcome. Following are the compelling reasons as to why AEC project teams must employ a combination of IPD and BIM and how this approach delivers positive value propositions for all stakeholders:

  • The IPD contractual agreements establishes clarity and dismisses ambiguity amongst all the project stakeholders with regards to decision-making, detailed responsibilities of each party, and risk/reward-sharing mechanism for each task. As a result, major participants, including the architects, MEP engineers and main contractors are clear about their respective roles and timeframes.
  • Employing parametric BIM models structures the project team in a way that encourages clear, open, and horizontal communication. This facilitates diverse disciplines to seamlessly coordinate during the pre-construction design planning and construction phases.
  • IPD necessitates mapping out comprehensive workflows and protocols for developing, sharing and updating the digital BIM models. These plans clearly delineate procedures for intra-discipline as well as inter-discipline design data management and communication.
  • Due to an integrated design management structure facilitated by BIM and IPD, the cost and time benefits experienced by the primary project team members spill over to secondary chain participants, including fabricators, installation experts and facility managers.

So, if your firm operates in the AEC industry and is looking for a highly recommended IPD support services provider to handle initial consultation to complete project management, contact us.

Building Information Modelling (BIM): An Indispensable Decision-Making Tool for Contractors

General contractors, also referred to as main contractors in the UK, play an essential role in managing the cost and schedule of highly complex construction projects, particularly during the post-design phases. Professional contracting firms and professionals are involved in a list of crucial tasks. These include diligently studying construction drawing sets developed by architects, seeking local construction permits and licenses, examining day-to-day on-site activities, estimating project cost, monitoring schedules, and serving as a key bridge between key trades, including mechanical services, electrical services, plumbing services and fire protection services.

XS CAD’s 3D BIM modeling and 3D BIM coordination services assist general contractors (main contractors) by providing them with a high degree of predictability and enabling on-time completion of projects. Considering that general contractors (main contractors) bear significant risk of project implementation, they appreciate the advantage of our BIM services.

IPD

Owing to our extensive experience in pre-construction planning, multi-service BIM coordination, and BIM modeling for education, commercial, healthcare, leisure, and residential projects, XS CAD has served as a valuable partner to general contractors (main contractors) in the US, Canada, Australia, India, and the UK to support the design process for architectural, structural and MEP disciplines.

Apart from helping contractors deliver time and cost efficiencies on their projects, our tailored BIM services and MEP spatially coordinated models enhance coordination and interoperability between general contractors (main contractors) and all the subcontractors responsible for each of the building services — mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection. Since the parametric objects created within BIM models represent actual elements within a construction project, this information is valuable for designers, installers and cost consultants.

Whilst 3D BIM modeling services support contractors by offering them a thorough pre-construction visualisation with regards to structure, architectural elements, MEP spatial coordination, clash inspection, and interference analysis, 4D BIM allows them to create time-based virtual mock-ups, also known as sequence-based simulations to improve productivity on site. Additionally, 4D BIM services help them detect time and workflow-based clashes resulting in efficient materials and equipment planning, besides improving the flow of multidisciplinary personnel in a constrained space and time.

Furthermore, XS CAD’s 4D BIM Services help general contractors (main contractors) test several “what if” scenarios and make improvements if needed. As a result, the simulation of various project sequences relative to their planned timeframes enables quick and effective decision-making. This decision-making advantage and accurate predictability offered by our BIM modeling services leads to on-time and cost-effective project completion by contractors for their end customers.

CAD and BIM Outsourcing: A Positive Value Proposition to Gain A Competitive Edge

Construction and design documentation form an integral element of any construction project’s design and planning stage. With the clients (facility owners) raising benchmarks with regards to quality, cost efficiency and completion timeframes for such projects, the entire AEC fraternity is seeking ways to meet these requirements, whilst staying profitable. In addition to this, there is a growing client-side demand for employing BIM-based 3D virtual planning in combination with traditional 2D CAD methods for multi-faceted benefits. Accordingly, architectural and building services firms are considering CAD and BIM outsourcing as a suitable practice not only to reduce cost but also increase quality, productivity and boost in-house efficiency.

Whether the project requirements include elementary paper-to-CAD conversions or complex MEP modelling and coordination support assignments, there are numerous benefits that architectural, MEP engineering, contracting, project management and MEP consulting firms can derive from outsourcing their construction design and documentation work. Some of them include:

1. Cost-Effective Access to CAD and BIM Expertise

It is extremely difficult for architectural and MEP firms to set up specialised internal teams proficient in developing BIM-based design and construction drawing sets. Transitioning from 2D CAD to BIM is a long learning curve, particularly for small- and medium-sized practises. For such firms, partnering with a third-party vendor who specialises in outsourced CAD services can speed up turnaround times whilst maintaining quality standards and local design regulations.

2. Ability to Concentrate on Core Function

When firms involved in architectural, building services, general contracting, project management and AEC consulting, outsource their CAD and BIM documentation work, they can conveniently reduce operating costs whilst focussing on their respective fundamental services.

3. Support to Share Project Risk

Having a competent and reputed CAD outsourcing partner allows a business to share the project risk. When you subcontract design and construction drawing assignments to a third party, you trim down the risk involved in training your internal team members and having them execute a non-core function. Furthermore, in the AEC industry wherein timelines and quality standards are critical to success, outsourcing can prove to be a valuable route to a business’ success.

4. Time and Resources to Develop Internal Team

Outsourcing saves the time, effort, and cost involved in setting up CAD teams, including procuring software licenses, configuring high-tech systems and putting together a team of expert technicians. As a result, the firms that outsource efficiently use the same time and effort to develop their in-house team.

5. Leverage Time-Zone Advantage

By choosing to offload CAD and BIM-driven documentation work, including drafting, 3D modelling, 4D scheduling, MEP drafting, MEP modelling, MEP coordination and clash detection, architectural and MEP engineering firms can easily make full use of the difference in time zones. For instance, if a UK-based architectural practise outsources its design and documentation work to an Indian-based CAD company, your assignment will be worked upon whilst you are away from office and delivered when you return the next morning. As a result, you get round-the-clock operations for your business that will increase productivity.

6. Save on Recruitment Overheads

Offloading CAD and other complex BIM-based design documentation services to third-party providers offers a business the ability to remain flexible and quickly adapt to market fluctuations as the cost, time and efforts of recruiting, training and setting up a quality team of technicians are saved.

7. Enhance End Deliverables

When non-core functions are subcontracted to outsourcing providers, the entire delivery life-cycle shortens whilst maintaining quality benchmarks agreed upon. Since your outsourcing partner can deliver high-quality documentation sets faster, your business can boost up input-to-output time cost-effectively. As a result, you maintain the quality and timeliness of your service, thereby increasing the end client’s satisfaction.

8. Trim Operating Costs

Establishing a highly-skilled team of CAD and BIM technicians involves recruitment, employee training, procuring software licenses, besides setting up the hardware and online collaboration infrastructure. When your business chooses CAD and BIM outsourcing as an option, you can cut back on the outlay, time, and efforts required for the same.

9. Provide Competitive Edge

As there is a greater push than ever by all the key stakeholders to avoid budget overruns during all phases of the design and build, outsourced CAD services can certainly prove to be a positive value proposition for architects, MEP (M&E) consulting firms, and general contractors looking for a scalable yet cost-effective alternative to setting up in-house teams. This, in effect, provides a highly competitive edge whilst offering a flexibility to tackle the ups and downs of market cycles.
Kuldeep Bwail is a Director at XS CAD Limited, one of the leading 3D BIM Modeling companies providing outsourced CAD services to architects, engineers, MEP (M&E) consultants and contractors across the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Europe, India and the Middle East.

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