Building Information Modeling (BIM) has existed since the 1970s, but it’s only been since the early 2000s that the technology has been widely used and accepted. While the initial concept of BIM was simple, it has evolved over time. BIM involves creating and computerizing a three-dimensional drawing of a structure. Some of its core benefits include shortening the construction cycle, reducing project costs, and eliminating litigation caused by defective designs.
Architects can use the model originally created with BIM in a variety of ways and at every phase of construction. As the program has become more progressive over the past several decades, it can now handle everything from 3D to 7D modeling. Each letter D refers to a specific function. The tasks that a modern end user of BIM can complete with this software include:
- Animations and walk-throughs of the coordinated 3D model
- Sequencing of project phasing, simulations, and scheduling as well as determining which applications may clash with each other
- Ability to estimate costs in real time
- Energy efficiency optimization
- Facility management functions
Additional Benefits of BIM Technology over Paper Designs
Two-dimensional drawings served their purpose, but most architects and construction firm owners are now fully onboard with the 3D technology available with BIM. The benefits begin long before the designer compiles all elements together to create a software program. BIM enables users to capture things such as digital elevation and aerial imagery as they really are instead of how someone draws them. Combined with the ability to laser scan existing infrastructure, accurately capturing reality with BIM means working on a project that is already streamlined.
Rework of drawings is a common problem when working as part of a design group. BIM modeling reduces the instances of completing drawings multiple times since it controls duplication and provides more detailed information than a typical drawing set. Designers save time with faster drawing tools and a program that automatically calculates the counting of all components associated with the project. For people who are hesitant to use a computer program due to fear of losing their work, they can rest easy knowing that BIM software automatically saves new work and maintains a running project history.
How a Portland University Saved $10 Million Dollars Using BIM
In a world where coming in over budget on projects is the norm, shaving $10 million dollars off of expected construction costs is sure to attract attention. That is exactly what happened at the Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB) in Portland, Oregon. The building, which spans 650,000 feet and is jointly owned by three local universities, had an original design budget of $295 million dollars. Saving this kind of money is no small feat, especially considering that 28 different design teams worked together to finish it. Building engineers, landscapers, sign makers, and building inspectors are just four of the specialty groups involved in the project.
Thanks to the streamlined communication made possible by BIM, the project team could transfer one aspect of a design to the next group responsible for making changes. They could also avoid potential conflicts, such as where to place heating and cooling systems. When any member of the team made a change, the BIM program notified his or her own design group as well as the 27 others in real time.
As BIM becomes a more mainstream software tool for architects and builders in future years, the benefits will undoubtedly become even more cleared.