What is BIM?
BIM Stands for Building Information Modeling. It takes the idea of CAD drawings and puts them into a virtual environment where you literally can virtually build an entire project from the ground up before ever breaking ground. This allows you to see any problems, conflicts, design flaws, etc… as well as test the buildings efficiencies and performance before a project is started.
In the past a project would get built from a set of one dimensional drawings. Conflicts would arise, the delays would start and the costs would grow. More evolved contractors would hold coordination meetings to create overlays, and determine conflicts before they impacted the schedule, but that was still limited to the foresight and quality of the people creating the overlays. Furthermore, the change orders would still be priced in a no compete environment, which did not benefit the customer.
Since the development of 3D CAD, huge advances in BIM have evolved. Now we have the capability of tying in 4D (the project schedule), 5D (the project costs), and 6D (the owner’s manuals and scheduled maintenance documentation). This will be the way all projects in the future are built. This takes what was once a simple set of drawings that got lost after the project was complete, to a powerful, fully integrated, set of contract documents that will be used throughout the entire life cycle of the building.
Construction Phase: Imagine being able to build a project based on hindsight. There have been billions of dollars spent studying completed projects, to understand where money could have been saved, how things could have be foreseen, and better methodologies to improve the finished product. With BIM you have that ability. You can fix all conflicts, get a complete view of the project from its inception all the way to the final product, even interior design concepts, colors and furniture, virtually eliminating any unscheduled delays and costly change orders. You can test the performance of the systems and add money saving efficiencies to reduce energy costs. You can test the functionality of the furniture, office lay-out and anything else that may be of importance to your business. Then once you have a completed design, free from encumbrances, the prices can be negotiated at a flat friar price to the owner with huge financial benefit for them.
Post Construction: If you have never had to take over a building after construction then you are one of the lucky ones. Most Facilities Engineers will tell you that is when the real work begins. Training staff, understanding the systems and inter-workings of the building, designing maintenance plans, etc…, etc…, etc… With a properly implemented BIM model all that work is completed during the design process. When the building gets turned over to the owner, they are given a copy of the BIM and all the documents, maintenance schedules, O&Ms and everything needed by the Facility Manager is on one disc. The startup savings are something that many owners forget are even a benefit of a properly designed BIM.