What is BIM?

By BIM we understand Building Information Modelling. It is considered to be the digital model for any physical structure or building. These models can be put to use by the teams for creating the design of the building. The construction team may use it for managing or modelling the construction and also the building owners can use it for managing the facilities any time during the life of the building.

What are some of the implications of BIM?

It most of the cases the contractors start using the BIM model by partial uses. The count of the partial uses of BIM is a lot more than you can imagine. For people using BIM on daily basis the list is quite too long. For the people using it for the very first time the list below shows a few of the common simple uses which the contractors are using in terms of experimenting with BIM:

  1. Visualising the concept.
  2. Clarifying the scope.
  3. Coordinating with partial trade.
  4. Collision avoidance/ detection
  5. Validating the design.
  6. Sequencing the construction like planning, phasing the planning and managing logistics.
  7. Generating marketing presentation.
  8. Analysing the options.
  9. Fly through and walk through.
  10. Creating mock ups.

Who “owns” the components created by the different team members?

There are numerous ways of creating the models and for that team members are required to coordinate as they shall maintain and create elements within the models designed by them.

Elements existing in models of team members can be copied from model to model and also can be linked as the element in background or may also be monitored and shared. All of these methods do have a lot of advantages and disadvantages also and thus they may require various approaches for modelling the building. Proper use of coordination and collaboration is necessary for the successful exchange of the information of the model. The project manager is thus required to understand each of these processes and also make sure that the proper ones are implemented at the right and specific projects.

What are the legal implications of BIM?

For each of the positive which has been linked with BIM there exists number of legal questions and uncertainties in terms of BIM like contract documents.

For years contract documentation had been on papers. For a few years now the process has turned to be digital while PDF being considered as the common medium. It is quite fortunate that these PDFs are simple and in data format. But let us take an example of any contractor who is referring to the specific contract for colours of any façade, such specification is then referred to drawings. When the contractor access the drawing for the contract in the PDF the façade is red. However the designer chooses to change the same to blue but it is not coordinated to all the parts of the documents. Who shall be paying the amount for such kind of mistakes?

Such problems are much more likely to occur in case BIM is being used for the documentation of the contract. To be considered as interoperable data format the BIM can be said to be much more complex and much less mature when compared to simple 2D AutoCAD PDF. What in case model open up differently in certain software which the contractor has been using and there are various health or financial and safety consequences? In such cases who shall be responsible for paying bills?

Can affordability be considered as an issue and what kind of simple practices shall be persuaded to understand if BIM is a great investment?

Let us get back to 1980s in the era of word processor analogy while this same discussion took place. People had the same question which said if they shall be able to afford CAD package with personal computer or not. Such questions always arise with changes in technology. Will all the homes be able to have personal computers? Will each home be able to afford internet? Will each person be able to buy cell phone?

It has been considered to be easy investment in terms of smaller practices because they shall be fluid in terms of business decisions and also that they have scope of modifying the various processes in an easy manner. But in case of large practise which is having numerous professional it can be stated to be hard to opt for new processes.

However, according to me after 10 years people shall not be discussing BIM as it shall become the obvious part of construction industry.

What are the various software packages which are being put to use by different team members?

As it is known that it is important to have required capabilities to export and import various information to different consultant models it is considered to beneficial that all of them are using similar software package. Also, these days it is important to understand that all the team members are utilising same software version as the new releases are not backwards compatible when compared with the new versions. If various software packages are put to use it may become important to use the third party vendor for merging the models together for the purpose of viewing the ways in which the models are able to interact. While third party packages shall remain to be expensive, also they carry the risk losing the information.

At the very early stage the project manager is required to be aware in terms of software which is being used by the team members to make sure that models are interacting with each other.

What is Clash detection?

There are number of models in case of BIM. These models are developed using each of the discipline independently and also it is important to understand the clashes in terms of design like if various parts of that structure clashes with different M&E equipments. In past the clash detection process use to take place at the construction phase, where clashes required fixing on-site which caused addition in delay and expenses.

With having BIM at its design stage the various individual discipline models shall be combined in terms of federated models with the help of specific software. Such software carries detection of clashes, which is based on rules and thus represents major issues. That means all the constructability issues can be dealt with even before construction starts which helps in saving both time and cost.

Which is the additional software which is required with REVIT for implementing BIM and also cost loading and scheduling etc?

None. Although you may use various other tools, but they are not necessary to get you started. It has been seen that most of the REVIT users have proper access to various tools for example Navisworks Simulate and also various cloud rendering services and cloud analysis as the portion of the subscription. But in case of the initial project and also for the beginning implementation just REVIT is required for BIM having an expectation which state that AUTOCAD shall also be used in case of the initial project.

What are ways to convince your staff to use REVIT?

To convince the staff looking for things which may support them with their main concern shall be of great help. For rest of them showing the ways in which design shall be fun and also the ways in which rote work in terms of CAD can be removed. The convincing points shall remain different and depend on the person one is referring to.

What BIM level of details is required?

Even after having larger acceptance and usage of BIM most of the contract documents are consisting of simple two dimensional drawings. The components which cannot be seen on elevations and scaled plans shall add to the complexity of the model. It is important to have finer level modelling in which large scale detailing and wall sections shall remain to be necessary. The knowledge of modelling process and capabilities existing in the software shall help in determining the level of detailing required at various levels.

What is the right stage to begin modeling in BIM?

The answer shall vary in case of each team member.

The architect may have a plan of creating various low-level models which can help in reviewing program and massing requirements. The whole of the other team may need to retain from creating the first models till the time basic decisions in terms of the layout have been settled by the owner or architect.

Starting off with the model building early may generate various unnecessary revisions and also starting the same too late shall remain disruptive to various processes and also generate challenges which shall be faced by different team members. Placeholders shall be utilised effectively until any other refinement is possible.

The project manager may consider requiring that the team creates the model from the beginning of the design process extending to early in terms of design development.

Can BIM model be used for the purpose of analysis?

In most of the projects, it is considered to be beneficial to transfer the model to some specific analysis software package and finally send back the results for modifying the BIM.

However, various analysis packages interact in different manners with different BIM software and thus these models are required to be constructed in a slightly different manner for the successful export of the information. The project manager is required to specifically discuss the same with the team so that the model is allowed to be leveraged to gain a maximum advantage all through the design processes.

Is it possible for two users to be present in BIM model at same point in time?

Yes, it is possible for the users to be present in the model at the same time. This can be made possible using the work sharing feature present in REVIT which shall allow numerous people to work in the same project while not worrying about any kind of ownership and saving problems.

Are there outside services for facilitating coordination between files received from architects, structural designers, lighting etc?

There exist a few tools from 3rd party companies and also Autodesk which may help in tracking the things that have changed and also help in coordinating these models with different people. Both are able to form a standpoint for project management and also a standpoint for clash detection.

What are the ways of tracking changes in BIM?

Changes are allowed to be tracked with the help of tools including compare models and can also be done using various revision tools.

Users are allowed to compare the changes existing between various versions using the tools like design review and Navisworks.

Can general contractors use BIM model?

Yes, and because of legal and process impediments, this remains to be a difficult decision in case of tradition designing bid build process. But in a few cases like in case of a school district which is using the basic construction-contractor manager process, it may be possible that the contractor shall have all required expertise and also the interest for ensuring involvement in the process of BIM.

While 2D drawing still remains to be the contract documents the use of a 3D model to CM/GM cannot be denied. Having quick feedbacks coming from a general contractor it shall become easy for the design team for making simple basic adjustments in the model which shall help in creating necessary cost savings during the stage of bidding or construction. At some point of time if such adjustments are able to create an addition to the scope of work in case of design team it may be required to adjust the fees.

The design team, owner and CM/GM are required to work closely with each other to ensure that the obligations in terms of contracts are understood and outlined. Also, the project manager shall anticipate the extended use of the model for preparation of necessary strategies.

Does owner have any expectations from the design team to give the model like the as-built document?

There is an opportunity with the owner to utilise the model for management of the facilities of the building after it has been occupied.

Like, monitoring of the mechanical system cycle for maintenance and also the specification of equipment can be done just on a click. However, it has been seen that there is a certain increase in the effort to involve such level of intelligence into the model.

It is important for the project manager to ensure that all the expectations can be understood clearly at the early stage and can also be spelt out in terms of the scope of contract and work. BIM has the capability to become a major advancement in the industry. As the 3D models are able to show the facilities even before they are created the shortcoming of 2D processes have chances of getting eliminated. The processes also have the capacity to improve coordination. This shall help in reducing the questions related to construction which shall lead to a reduction in terms of length of construction and also change orders.

Even for this process to remain successful the manager is not expected to be an expert but shall definitely be an expert in analysing the effects of BIM in terms of management of the process. By having the understanding of the process and also by knowing when the decisions are to be made the project manager shall be able to make the best use of BIM.

What are BIM advantages for client?

Consultants are able to generate a building design using various components in digital terms. This shall:

1. Allow accurate estimation.
2. Avoidance of collision of design which shall result in basic alteration and also rework due to loss of information.
3. The increment in efficiency.
4. Optimisation of scheduling.
5. Identification of conflicts and reduction in risk.
6. Improvement in collaboration and sharing of information.
7. Generate a better handover.

Basically, BIM looks to be time and cost effective to the owner but is it major cost problem and massive time to various architects?

Most of the architect shall see benefits in speed and efficiency. But the time which is gained cannot be applied for finishing the work early. The time saved shall be used for making better designs and also working out better options also ensure better collaboration. Also, add to this various designers look at it as the added features to the software which allow them in offering better billable services which were possible to be offered by them earlier.

How BIM implementation can offer a competitive advantage?

The proper modelling of the constituent parts helps in enabling the clash detection of various elements like a duct that runs through the structural beam. Also creating the operational rules is allowed to be applied.

The industry is also exploring various wider implications of different dimensions which are categorised as below:

  • Timing and scheduling
  • Estimation, costing and expenses
  • Featuring the life cycle

The final model is passed by the design team to the contractor for building a very sophisticated model which offer 5th and 4th dimension information.

One of the biggest benefits is in regards to the 6th dimension life cycle featuring and also BIM has the complete potential of providing the end users with all necessary information in terms of accessible models.

How is it possible to wow your clients using 3D visualisation?

The working practices do not change and the main deliverables still remain to be the same which is drawings but while creating them 3D figures can be generated which can be used for collaborating and also coordinating with all major project related parties for validating the choice of design.

Each of the element in case of a 3D model is provided with information that is required to be carried and it can thus be accessed either through the viewing of the model or by exporting it into spreadsheet format.

The column may consist of all basic information like material and size but with this cost can also be defined also the installation date with associated hazards can also be shown with the future maintenance schedule.

What are ways of convincing your client or boss to go for BIM?

It is very important for the client or boss to understand the importance of BIM for them to make sure they are convinced towards usage of the same. Thus, to make sure they are able to accept the technology the benefits to them shall be communicated.

The clients if use BIM technology they can be ensured of the availability of the model for future renovations and also for updating the project. Also, BIM creates reminders to help the clients understand the time when renovations or maintenance shall be put to action which can help them in estimating the cost.

The management may look forward to BIM for creating the action plan for various steps involved and also for allotting the duties to different teams. It also helps them in staying updated with the progress and deadlines to be met.