The Panacea of BIM – Part 2 of …

English: Example of 3-point perspective. Model...
English: Example of 3-point perspective. Model by “Noel” from Google 3D Warehouse. Rendered using IRender nXt and Google SketchUp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We can do BIM, I swear!

A project just arrived and it requires a “BIM deliverable”. Nothing more and nothing less… As usual, no additional details are provided as to exactly what this entails or even why it is required in the first place. What to do?

The competitive nature of the AEC industry and severe undercutting is unfortunately resulting in a lowest common denominator approach where pseudo-BIM takes the form of Frankenstein-esque Revit project files. After all, why would anyone pay a premium if there is an oversupply of people who are quick to claim that they can deliver a “kick @$$” Revit model? These building information monsters provide little value downstream to either general contractors or building owners (the two groups who arguably have the most to gain from true BIM).

General contractors are concerned with exactly how things will be put together and require a logical organization of a model that allows them to quickly quantify, coordinate, detect clashes and link schedules for task completions. This helps them mitigate risk in their practice.

The owner, on the other hand, wants information that can help them in the operation and maintenance of the building, manufacturer, warranty and service dates for expensive mechanical equipment as well as a model that can be used to identify and prioritize upgrade/retrofit opportunities on their building portfolio. This helps them save money in operations, maximize their profit and protect their investments.

On the design side however, most people seem to still be concerned with recreating the 2D graphical output of technologies from the last decade. After all, the legal contractual requirement is still in ink and paper. People fail to see the bigger picture of how their work may help others, and in so doing, help themselves. This is slowly changing thanks to legal enablers such as IPD contracts.

Real BIM makes it possible to reduce the amount of unnecessary rework that happens today where a model is created in SketchUp for renderings/visualization, in Revit for documentation/coordination, in IES VE by the energy consultant for energy analysis and daylighting, in ETABS and a handful of other products for structural analysis, in Revit again by the contractor because those designers have no clue how things are actually built… This is not to say that everything happens in an authoring tool like Revit, because it won’t, but at least there can be strategies in place to reuse as much information as possible. This, I must emphasize, does not happen automatically!

The solution is to clearly define the specific uses that will be given to the model and then commit to work together for the success of a project from the very beginning. What you want to get out of the BIM will determine your modeling and communication strategies. This should be outlined in a BIM Execution plan to make sure everyone understands the “greater” goals of the project and is accountable for their behaviour and responsibilities throughout the project.

As pointed out by Kelly Cone at the Autodesk Media Summit earlier this year (paraphrasing): we are approaching a time when everyone is using Revit. For firms to be successful in the long term, they will have to demonstrate what value they can add and what they can do with their model. The days of just being able to provide a crappy Revit model at the end of the project are coming to an end. So what can you do with your model? and how many BIM Execution plans do you have under your belt?
Edwin Guerra


Edwin is a BIM Consultant focusing on Building Performance and Structural Design with Summit Technologies, a leading provider of BIM consulting services based in Vancouver, BC. Edwin’s extensive knowledge of Revit, Dynamo, Navisworks, Bluebeam, Ecotect, Green Building Studio and Autodesk Vasari, is complemented by a passion for Green Building Design.

Leave a reply

Summit Technologies 2015
Vancouver: 604.568.8324 | Calgary: 403.648.9272 | Edmonton: 780.936.8008