BIM: What is it, and can you afford to ignore it?

We live in a digital world. Technology is completely immersed in our daily lives, giving us immediate access to information, and making it easy to communicate, understand and problem-solve.

So, how can technology make the building and design process easier?

“The answer is Building Information Modelling – or BIM – a virtual 3D description of your build asset” according to Nathan Hildebrandt, Associate Director and BIM Manager.

Under Nathan’s leadership, Fulton Trotter Architects have embraced BIM software for almost 12 years. Here, he tells us how BIM works, and the benefits of using it.

Q: What is BIM?
BIM is a process for creating and managing all of the information on a project – before, during and after construction.

The output of this process is the Building Information Model, the digital description of every aspect of the built asset – including spaces, finishes, equipment, joinery, layouts, and more.

While traditional drawings and specifications still play a role in the process, the process collates detailed information in the one place, and allows you to easily create a 3D representation or fly-through of the end product.

BIM has been critical in accelerating our documentation and design review process.

“To help clients achieve a deeper understanding of our designs, we use BIM on all our projects.”

Q: What are the benefits of BIM?

There are four main benefits of using BIM.

  1. Communication & Collaboration

  2. The BIM process enables clearer communication of information to all parties involved with the design, documentation, construction and occupation of the asset.

    Not everyone is trained to read architectural drawings. Where clients and collaborators would have previously spent hours deciphering pages of architectural plans to create a rough picture of the end product, BIM allows you to see the exact design and detail of the end product.

    For our clients – who are mostly facility managers, teachers and carers – this is especially important. As the building occupant, they should have the clearest idea of anyone, what the end product should be.

    Using certain software, the user can navigate through an architectural project from their computer or device, as if it was a real site tour.

    BIM makes the design review and feedback process easier also. People can provide smarter and faster responses to any concerns or issues and request changes.

  3. Accuracy
  4. BIM allows us to share accurate information across the project. This increases the efficiency of the process and allows people to make more informed decisions about the design.

    By collating thousands of pieces of information in a single source of information collaborators and contractors can quickly and accurately interpret detailed information about the building. The process provides greater project insight for cost, schedule, and construction.

  5. Cost
  6. When fully implemented, BIM enables quantity surveyors to almost “live measure” the designed building. This gives our clients greater control in cost planning and helps reduce the risk in delivering buildings on budget. These benefits can be further enhanced once contractors are involved. Contractors can use BIM to make more informed allowances in pricing, in turn reducing their risk and their tender prices.

  7. Facility management
  8. Traditionally upon the completion of construction, hard copy Operation & Maintenance manuals have been provided to assist in the management of the built asset. With BIM, we can provide an editable model that allows data searching and updates. This saves clients considerable time and cost in the management of their facilities.

Q: How will BIM likely influence the industry in the next 5-10 years? What are some of the future considerations and technological developments?

Until BIM is adopted by contractors and collaborators across the industry and the delivery of information is standardised, we won’t see any vast changes to the cost or efficiency of the process.

The UK has recently introduced a mandate for the compulsory use of BIM, in a bid to improve the building process and deliver significant savings to the Government.

The lack of standards in Australia however, has meant the take up of BIM has been relatively slow, with only a few tier one construction firms and large service consultants joining architects in adopting the process comprehensively.

It’s likely that Australia will follow the UK government and mandate the use of BIM across the entire industry in the next 2-3 years.

Once all collaborators and contractors are on board with the process, we will see a higher quality, and more efficient output of information and project delivery that requires less rework.

If you want to learn more about how BIM could benefit your project, please contact Nathan on 07 3291 1511.