Why BIM?

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Our final piece in this series focuses on the importance of fostering communication and collaboration among all of a building’s stakeholders.

To reiterate a point made in our previous article, BIM, when utilized to its fullest extent, is an incredibly useful tool, in every sense of the word. Wielded properly, it can save materials, energy, time, and money; however, if not maintained or used correctly, it will be a financial drain, dangerous to operations, and eventually become unusable.

Defining BIM by stakeholder needs

Owing to different budgets, needs, and expectations, what building owners and their users want out of a new building—and what they ultimately get—are two very different things. Likewise, through experience, we’ve found that expectations differ depending on the stakeholders involved:

·        Building Owner (Executive Team, Facilities Department, et al)

·        Design Team (Building Owner Representatives, Architect, Engineers)

·        General Contractor

·        Building Trades Contractors

·        End User (Building Owner/Facilities Department)

To level expectations, ensure everybody is on the same page at the beginning of a project, and ensure BIM is used to its fullest extent, we’ve found it most useful to start at the end of the project, and work our way back. Start with the owner deliverables at the end of the project, and this will drive what is required to obtain the BIM objectives.

End user requirements

Building owners and facilities managers want to be able to walk away with a certain set of contracted deliverables at project completion.

These deliverables might consist of a fully engineered 3D BIM model used to design and construct the building, or manufacturer, warranty, and cost information for each component within the building’s  3D model.

Additionally, end users likely want to have a solid understanding of what they’re hoping to accomplish, with the defined finished product.

Building trades contractor requirements

To install the physical items, the contractors likely need to know who is modeling the trades content in the model, whether or not the 3D model was used to create both installation and shop drawings, and whether a robotic total station has used coordinates from the model used in the field. There is a difference between a 3D model and a BIM, and the owner should decide what the difference is at the onset of a project.

General Contractor requirements

To maintain costs and manage expectations, GCs typically need to know whether the designs can be physically installed in the walls and above the ceilings.

They will also need enough time built into the schedule to adequately allow for installation discussion and modeling coordination.

Finally, the 3D model will ideally capture the costs and experience associated with the project’s high-tech nature.

Design team requirements

The architects and engineers will need to know that the BIM program they’re using is suitable to generate a 3D model for release to the GC for use in their coordination/installation efforts.

Design team members will further want to coordinate their designs, and include complete component information before, handing the designs to the GC.

Finally, design team members will want to know who makes contract project  changes to the model after it's handed to the General Contractor.

Building owner requirements

An owner must be able to tell the design team what they truly want, and communicate that with terminology that is consistent across the industry. It’s helpful for owners first to research what a BIM is in order to realize what they’re asking for.

It’s also important for them to realize that the project schedule will be different than what they’re traditionally accustomed to, and that the result will be a product that’s useful throughout the building's life expectancy.

Because the model will provide large amounts of useful information, it’s imperative that the owner’s team know how to use it. Part of this is budgeting appropriate in-house resources—including software and hardware—needed to operate and maintain the 3D building model for the life of the building.

Bringing it all together

Getting your team to discuss all of the expectations and requirements will result in a common understanding of the delivered product. BIM is here to stay because it can save the building owner and their facilities departments installation materials, energy, time, and money throughout the course of the building’s life.