The days of a commercial contractor spreading out blueprints to check measurements are behind us. In today’s commercial construction industry, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is considered the most progressive way to plan, design, build, and manage a construction project.
BIM has revolutionized the construction industry in recent years, allowing stakeholders to access detailed information on most any device. But what is BIM and how does it help project owners control construction costs?
What is BIM?
BIM, which stands for Building Information Modeling, is a digital process for planning, designing, building, and managing a facility using 3D modeling and data. It helps ensure consistency throughout the project by sharing collaborative information with architects, designers, engineers, construction contractors, and other necessary parties in real time.
As the design teams draws and models the building through BIM software, they are creating an intelligent drawing containing practical information that can be extracted in real-time. For example, when a wall is drawn it is not just placing lines on the screen; it is so much more. It’s a wall placed as an element with intelligent layers assigned such as metal stud framing and drywall. Those layers can be tracked through schedules to find linear footage, square footage, dollar values, or specific product information so estimates can be quickly generated. As the design changes and walls are added, the schedules and quantities are automatically updated. This type of BIM drafting can be accessible through online platforms ensuring that everyone is on the same page and is informed of the most up-to-date project details. BIM can even be used by building owners and facility managers after construction is completed by containing warranty and maintenance information, making the entire project lifecycle a cohesive, streamlined process. Currently, using BIM for facility management is most common for commercial construction on a larger scale as opposed to small residential construction.
How Building Information Modeling Improves Construction Projects
The functions of BIM provide incredible value for all parties involved in a commercial construction project in the following ways. From a design standpoint, it allows the design team to have a more accurate design and set of drawings. It can serve as a tool for even the most experienced architects by being able to leverage 3D views of the project to improve the way the geometry comes together which was not always easily done in the past.
From an owner’s perspective, they can get feedback from the design team much quicker than was possible in the past. They can also visualize what the project will look like and how it will function before the project is constructed. Many people have a hard time looking at a set of 2D blueprints and visualizing how the overall space will look from a geometry and material finish/color standpoint. Having a design team use BIM and 3D perspectives, renderings, and walkthroughs on your project will give you confidence the finished building will look and function like what you expect.
From a contractor’s point of view, the real-time data automatically created from a BIM model can be exported and utilized to create more accurate estimates in less time. The real-time data can also be used to send to fabricators to improve coordination and reduce fabrication time if that is a project goal. Contractors are also able to visualize the 3D space which can help workers in the field construct efficiently to meet the design and owners wishes. When a design team utilizes clash detection on the project, the contractor has more assurance complex elements like duct work and structural beams will have fewer issues to work out in the field, which ultimately saves time and money on a project.
As mentioned before, virtual walk-throughs can be one of the most important tools realized from BIM. A virtual walk-through of the interior of a building helps bring it to life and allows project owners to visualize how team members will work and move throughout a facility. Will hallways be too long and narrow or will sightlines be obstructed? Will departments feel siloed between floors or sections of the building? Understanding how employees and those who use a building will conduct activities is an important aspect of BIM.
We’ve all stared at a sample of paint or tile and struggled to imagine what it might look like on an expansive wall or across a backsplash. It’s unfortunate when products are approved, ordered, and show up on the jobsite, only to have a project owner disappointed in the results.
By creating realistic digital 3D renderings, project owners can easily visualize features such as paint, tile, wood finishes, commercial flooring, window treatments, and other finishes. Switching out paint colors or trying different finishes in a digital rendering is easily done with a few clicks, saving time, and helping ensure stakeholders are satisfied with the outcome.
There are multiple stakeholders involved in a commercial construction project. Beyond the project owner, facility manager, designers, engineers, and general contractors, there are subcontractors, building committees, employees, and sometimes even taxpayers. Accurate data and realistic 3D models help build consensus quicker on a project because stakeholders can visualize the finished design and easily make decisions, saving time and money.
With BIM, everyone can work within the same real-time system resulting in minimized wait time for others to send critical information through email or other less reliable means. Architects can coordinate with structural engineers and HVAC engineers to determine solutions in real time, for example. Contractors can also access information and even comment on project details to ask questions or address potential issues. BIM improves communication between the office and the field by transferring knowledge, reducing change orders, and lessening construction project scope creep.
While a commercial construction company should leverage digital platforms and technology to help manage projects, ensuring a trusting and collaborative relationship with your construction manager is even more important. Get to know the team at The Samuels Group, and contact one of our construction experts today. We’ll gladly share more about the benefits of BIM and our relationship-driven approach to delivering results.