Advantages and Disadvantages of BIM

Advantages and Disadvantages of BIM

BIM is a tool to construct virtually. BIM will NOT solve the communication problems in the construction. What it can do is save calculation time and reduce failure costs. Does that make BIM suitable for you?

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, is a digital system where all relevant information, from the design up through and including the actual construction, is being saved, used and managed by all construction parties. BIM is a tool to already virtually construct the building, together with the different chain partners. To realize a common commitment regarding BIM, a construction wide cultural change is necessary.

To ‘BIM’ offers opportunities

“My, my, that’s not for me”, many people will think after reading the above definition. “Because where words as ‘digital’, ‘chain partners’ and ‘cultural change’ are mentioned in one breath, surely they talk more than they build.” Go ahead and read this article anyway, because ‘bimming’ can offer opportunities for certain builders and subcontractors!  But of course this doesn’t go without an effort and you really have to (continue to) invest time to reap the rewards.

Read BIM models

If you do special projects and your end client values visual construction and cooperation, then it is worth the effort to broaden your knowledge about BIM. Just by mentioning that you have experience with BIM models gives you a leg up. To be able to read those special IFCs all you need is a viewer. There are several available to download for free. 

3D completes the picture

By working with 3D-models of different disciplines, it will become virtual insightful faster how the building will look like as an end product. Do all the parts actually fit together? For the client, a 3D image is usually easier to interpret than a 2D drawing. Also for the subcontractors, a complete model that shows the construction columns and where the installation pipelines are, is important. All in all, BIM allows for more insight. To calculate quantities from the BIM models, a free viewer does not suffice. That requires a (paid) checker. And if you want to design in 3D yourself, then you need a SketchUp. That will cost you a handy intern and about $500. 

Handy tool

A well modeled BIM saves you an enormous amount of calculation time. The traditional way costs you a lot of time in calculating and this is really a lot less when you use BIM. In builder’s estimates and details there are often discrepancies that require serious research if you don’t want to shortchange yourself. BIM gives you via IFC – this is an internationally standardized exchange of model information – a lot of insight. For instance, on a drawing it is not always clear that straight walls really need to be constructed around channels. Therefore, one should regard BIM as a pleasant tool, not as a goal. It helps with the calculation, but it is also practical for transport and the choice of materials and for space layout.

Trust and cooperation

Some say BIM leads to failure cost reduction. That’s because by designing a building together, possible construction failures should be detected in an early stage in the model. That translates to no more construction mistakes, a flawless planning and a correct calculation of all construction costs. However… that only works if the emphasis lies on bimming together. Creating together, working together, thinking together. The question is if such a change can be realized in construction: BIM is not a solution for the communication problem in construction. That is why chain cooperation will remain difficult. Because, in order to bim well, you have to be willing to share your knowledge and to invest, even before you are awarded the project by the client. 

Save money

In order to make BIM successful for the entire construction process, it is important that all parties get together at an early stage. That cultural change shall not happen completely. Therefore, shall BIM not be interesting for all construction projects. With a lot of straight forward work you should probably not involve BIM. Depending on the type of customer, the kind of projects and the way in which you wish to organize your business office, BIM can be a valuable tool. You can really save money by reducing your failure costs by using BIM. The advantage of BIM is that you can start low and you do not need to invest a lot right away in order to try it out and see if it has added value for your company. The more experience you get with BIM, the more you realize the advantages of it!