Lowering Costs with Building Information Modeling
Anton Dy Buncio
As costs for everything soar around us, pressure is on for building contractors and design teams to find ways of reducing costs. The need for superior construction and construction related products has driven engineers to constantly look for ways to improve everything from construction methods, through the materials used, to the systems which design teams depend upon to develop new building designs.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) has risen as a very effective tool, which has been proven to lower costs considerably. This new development tool can be described as CAD (computer aided design) on steroids. It provides a much more robust design environment, which is fully integrated between all of the design disciplines, saving money in both the design and construction phases of the project.
The major difference between BIM and CAD is that BIM is fully integrated. CAD is essentially a computerized version of the old two-dimensional flat drawing. Individual drawings are produced, which the program can then use to create a 3D model. However, changes are always made in the 2D drawings. These changes have to be made on every affected drawing, creating a huge opportunity for error. Separate design disciplines create separate drawings, increasing the opportunity for errors. On the other hand, BIM integrates all levels of the design, so that changes which are made to the design are reflected in all affected drawings automatically.
There are several advantages to using a BIM system, all of which ultimately affect the bottom line:
- Full Integration – All of the design disciplines work on the same electronic model, not separate drawings. By doing so, changes that are created by one discipline, such as HVAC, automatically show up for other members of the design team to see. This prevents double utilization of space and conflicts in the design, allowing the whole design team to have instant access to changes made and see their effects.
- Reduced Design Rework – A large part of the man hours in any design project is the time it takes to redesign things to meet changing customer needs and expectations. With BIM, this time is drastically reduced. Instead of changing individual drawings, the central model is changed, which is then automatically reflected in all affected drawings.
- Reduced Construction Changes and Rework – By identifying potential problems and conflicts in the design phase, construction rework caused by design problem is drastically reduced. The building goes up right the first time, without need to redo things, and eliminating the associated cost of those change orders.
- Improving Productivity – The fully integrated nature of BIM improves productivity within the architectural and engineering team. Work is streamlined by working with standard components, much as it is in CAD. However, in addition to having a library of components to work with, the BIM system allows designers to instantly see the effect of their design changes.
- Increases Communication – Having all the design specialists work off the same model ensures that everyone knows what each other are doing. Individual specialists can then connect with each other to eliminate conflicts, before they create problems in the design.
- Lowering Data Input Time – The BIM model stores all pertinent information relating to the building’s design, allowing the same information to be used in multiple documents and places, without having to recreate or re-input that information.
- Full Project Information – BIM systems not only store all the design information about the project, but all other related information about the project, including scheduling and cost. This increase in information flow reduces errors, helping keep costs for corrections to a minimum.
As you can see, BIM provides multiple opportunities for cost reduction, allowing a significant overall final cost savings for almost any project. The larger and more complex the project, the greater the opportunity for savings, because of the greater probability of error and change elimination.