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How BIM Can Help Owners Save Money

Building Information Modeling Electronic drafting programs and other modeling software has changed the way construction projects are designed. Design teams are now able to work together in cyberspace, seeing their designs come to life well before construction begins. The ability to use software to model the building before construction starts can save contractors and owners added costs and shorten construction schedules considerably.

What is BIM?

BIM, or building information modeling, is a way to design a building or project virtually. It uses computer drafting and modeling software to create a detailed 3D model of the building, its components, and finishes. Models can be extremely detailed, showing every piece of rebar or drywall screw, which helps project teams to diagnose coordination issues and conflicts before construction begins.

Building information modeling is used as a design and collaboration tool for buildings and infrastructure projects. All aspects of the project are represented in the model, which is then used to create the drawings and specifications that the construction team uses during construction. The model can include additional data such as costs and time, so the owner can know exactly how long the project will take and how much each stage will cost.

3D modeling allows the project to be built virtually before construction begins, highlighting any areas where there are conflicts or gaps in the model. It helps the project design team make educated decisions, as all team members have access to the model and can virtually tour the space.

BIM is a tool that can be used throughout the lifespan of a building, from planning to deconstruction. All members of the project team, including the owner and the contractor, benefit from the information the modeling provides.

Benefits of BIM

Project modeling assists with all phases of a project – planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance, and deconstruction. In the planning stage the model allows the team to capture the existing reality, which helps inform their design decisions moving forward. Throughout design, team collaboration is encouraged, and the data created is used to inform the project schedule and logistics. Once design is complete, the construction documents are created directly from the model and are shared with all team members, including general contractors, trade contractors, and suppliers. Once construction is complete, owners can use the data to help with maintenance issues and to verify that the building is performing as per design.

By including cost information in the design model, team members can gain realistic cost estimates very early in the design process. Having an accurate picture of the actual costs and the time the project will take to complete, can help project owners make informed decisions on certain design elements. Teams have to ensure that they are using accurate cost data to inform these estimates, so partnering with a contractor as soon as possible is encouraged.

The 3D aspect of the model allows team members to experience the feel and look of the building before construction begins. Materials and colors are accurately reflected in the renderings the software creates. Through the use of virtual reality (VR) technology, participants can even “walk” through the building, experiencing all the spaces as they are designed. Based on the experience in the model, changes can be made and rendered in real time, allowing for quick fixes to potential issues.

Building information modeling software has the ability to analyze the design information and spot coordination issues and missing information. This “clash detection” helps the design team spot areas where they need to look at utility routing, sizing, or spacing. The technology also allows users to view into walls and spaces above ceilings. Using these tools missing data can be spotted quickly, and the model updated to include the required information.

Saving money with BIM

Building modeling allows for a more efficient way to design and build projects. When all members of the team have access to real-time design documents and data, changes can be made quickly and easily and distributed instantly to the team members. All parties can collaborate more easily when everyone can see each other’s work and the effect it has on their own. This cuts down on errors in design and construction, saving the owner money.

The software allows the project team to search for conflicts and eliminate them before construction starts. This saves time and money during construction, as crews don’t have to wait for design changes or waste time removing work that has already been installed. Change orders are reduced, and time is saved when rework is eliminated.

Building information modeling can help expedite the construction schedule through the use of prefabricated or modular construction methods, a reduction in construction duration, and less changes once the project is underway. The accuracy of the design allows portions of the project to be built off-site without worrying about how they will connect once they are delivered. There are less delays for design changes, and potentially fewer weather delays if exterior elements are produced indoors. The less time the contractor is on site, the less costs there are for supervision and the infrastructure to support the project.

Safety and risk analyses can be done on the building model, allowing the project team to address issues before they come up in the field. Potential dangers might be mitigated through changing the order of the work, staging work differently, or adding additional supports to lower the risk. These protections can be added to the design so the contractor knows what to do ahead of time, and the owner knows how much it will cost.

The owner can save additional money through savings on insurance, potential claims or changes, reduced waste, and reduced site costs. By discovering and mitigating costs up front, owners can save money over the life of the project.

BIM offers the project team a chance to see what the building will look like and how it will function without putting a shovel in the dirt. This is valuable information that can help reduce costs, construction times, and can make jobs safer and more efficient.
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