The Myths Surrounding Building Information Modelling
Many have adopted Building Information Modelling. However, there are still misconceptions surrounding the method. Don’t let these myths prevent you from making the switch.
In recent years, building information modelling (BIM) has gained popularity. It's particularly prominent in the architecture and engineering industries. Professionals use BIM to structure projects, share work, and create sustainable structures.
In some respects, building information modelling is much like standard 3D digital design. In fact, many digital design software packages have adapted to fit the BIM paradigm. However, building information modelling also requires organisations to adopt the concept. Your company must commit to the collaborative work environment it encourages. Furthermore, you must understand how to use the reams of data that come with the method.
It’s a lot to take in, especially for professionals who are stuck in their ways. However, the benefits of BIM for engineers and architects are undeniable. The methodology leads to more efficient projects. With so much data, there is less chance of making mistakes that affect construction. A BIM model highlights issues beyond the structure itself. It demonstrates where conflicts arise within the structure. For example, a pillar may block electrical circuits. BIM helps you spot such issues before the project heads into construction.
Despite these benefits, many don’t want to make the switch. They hear so much about building information modelling from so many sources that they’re not sure what to think. This has given rise to many misconceptions, of which the ten below are some of the most prominent.
Myth #1 – It’s the Same as 3D Modelling
This is an easy one to understand. After all, you use digital design software as part of BIM. You also end up with 3D models. As a result, the two must be one and the same.
That’s not the case. 3D models are only one part of a greater whole when it comes to building information modelling. They’re the visual representation of your structure, but they’re not the only thing that you’ll work on.
In fact, you’ll spend much of your time creating datasheets. These sheets come from all of the key stakeholders in the project. They define the specifics of your project and inform the creation of your models.
Your team shares these datasheets in a Common Data Environment (CDE), usually hosted on the cloud. It’s this data that acts as the foundation of your models, and changes to the datasheets affect your models.
As a result, building information modelling is more about accurate data than it is model building. You have to think about the people involved, your data collection processes, to make it successful.
Myth #2 – It’s Only for Architects
This misconception stems from the link many make between BIM and 3D modelling. Yes, architects can use BIM to their advantage when designing buildings. However, the building information modelling concept stretches farther. You can use it for all manner of construction and engineering projects too.
Engineers can get the benefits of BIM as much as architects. These include creating higher quality designs and enjoying greater efficiency. Building information modelling saves time, cuts down on reworking, and reduces waste.
The construction industry reaps benefits too. A McGraw Hill Construction report from 2014 demonstrates this fact. It shows that BIM adoption in the construction industry is on the rise. In fact, it has outstripped adoption in the architecture sector. Primarily, BIM cuts down on the issues and conflicts that delay construction. Crews benefit from knowing they have accurate models to work from. BIM also helps with accurate resource allocation for construction projects.
It’s a process that can apply to several industries. Architects, engineers, and construction crews all benefit from BIM. In fact, the collaborative nature of the method brings these professionals together.
Myth #3 – It’s Only for Large Companies
Many believe the work involved in switching to BIM makes it restrictive. Your entire firm’s culture must change. This often requires a lot of investment on your end. You have to retrain staff, and communicate your changing working environment to your stakeholders.
This has led to many smaller firms avoiding BIM. They believe the costs are so high that it can only work in a large firm.
But that’s not the case anymore. The rise in BIM’s popularity has led to more clients and contractors expecting its use. Small firms that avoid building information modelling place themselves at risk. Many of the people you work with will expect you to demonstrate your BIM capabilities, regardless of your firm’s size.
As a result, you can’t assume your small firm doesn’t need BIM. You have to adapt to the times, otherwise you risk losing your industry standing. Avoiding BIM means you miss out on lucrative contracts.
Myth #4 – It Takes Too Much Time
There’s no denying that your firm has to change to implement building information modelling. You’ll retrain employees and essentially create a new workplace culture. These changes take time to implement.
However, many believe these short-term time losses will continue over a longer period. That’s not the case. Once your firm understands BIM, it will make long-term time savings.
Stack BIM up against your current approach. With BIM, you spend the largest chunk of project time collecting assets and data. However, this forms a basis for the entire project. With all of your data in place from the start, you make massive time savings in other areas. There’s less reworking of models, and fewer communication issues to deal with. The initial time investment pays off throughout the course of the project.
BIM is the next step up from computer-aided design (CAD). It takes some time to make the transition. However, the methodology saves more time over the course of several projects than it takes to implement initially.
Myth #5 – Only Those Skilled in 3D Modelling Can Use BIM
Again, it’s easy to see where this myth comes from. BIM involves 3D model creation, so you need digital design skills to use it, right?
That’s not the case either. Building information modelling creates data-rich environments that all stakeholders contribute too. The engineer or architect may need 3D modelling skills. However, construction crews contribute through their own data sets. They may never work on the model, but the information they provide affects it. The same goes for the data sets regarding zoning, environmental, and economic issues.
You can contribute to a BIM project without knowing how to design 3D models. In fact, the data you provide is key to the project’s success. BIM revolves around collaboration between all project stakeholders. As a result, it’s not solely based on your 3D modelling skills.
Myth #6 – It’s Only for Government Projects
The Australian government has pushed towards BIM, as have other governments throughout the world. In fact, the Commonwealth Government of Australia went so far as to fund a report highlighting the benefits of BIM in 2012.
As a result, many professionals working on government projects have adopted BIM. But this has led to the belief that it’s a government-only thing. You don’t need building information modelling when applying for private-sector work.
That’s another misconception. The private sector benefits just as much from BIM as the public sector. In fact, BIM uptake has grown in the private sector since at least 2015.
BIM may not be necessary to win private projects. However, it gives you a competitive edge over firms that don’t use it. Many private clients want to work with firms that use the latest technologies and methods. Of course, BIM also opens the door for more public sector work.
Myth #7 – It Costs More Money
This myth, much like the time myth, stems from the cost of initial implementation. Your firm absorbs an upfront cost while making the switch to building information modelling. There’s no getting around that. However, the benefits of BIM, particularly in terms of efficiency, recoup these costs over time.
You will spend money on new hardware and software, not to mention training programs. However, even these cost less than you may expect. Many of the digital design software packages you use now have adapted to BIM. The cost of those may be no more than you’d have spent on a software upgrade anyway.
The internet also offers plenty of guidance and support, plus there are free tools to help you to make the switch. For example, you can download Graphisoft’s BIMx for free for both Apple and Android devices.
Furthermore, your firm can scale your building information modelling adoption. Pick and choose the aspects of the method that benefit you right now. You’ll build a foundation for full adoption, while reaping some of the benefits of BIM.
This myth has some basis in truth, as there is a cost involved. However, it’s not as high as you may think. Plus, you’ll save money with each project that uses BIM.
Myth #8 – BIM Has No Post-Project Value
Many focus on how building information modelling benefits the projects they’re currently working on. Increased collaboration, more accurate data, and time-savings help everybody involved.
However, the benefits of BIM don’t stop there. It offers continued value during the lifetime of the resulting structure. In particular, the data gathered as part of the BIM process can inform ongoing maintenance and repair work. You can also use it as the basis for remodelling later on.
The project’s data helps stakeholders with maintenance scheduling and asset management. It also helps with disaster planning and ongoing resource tracking.
BIM offers more post-project value than you may realise. In fact, it makes things easier on the client. As a result, you can actually use the post-project value as a selling point for using BIM.
Myth #9 – It’s a Passing Fad
As with all new technologies and methods, there’s some concern that BIM is a fad. Eventually, it will lose favour with public and private entities.
However, this disregards how long BIM has been part of the industry. In fact, the basic building information modelling concepts date back further than you think. Douglas Englebart’s Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework paper described the idea in 1962. He theorised that data would become the basis for all architectural and engineering drawings. Beyond that, the term BIM has existed since the 1990s.
BIM isn’t a fad. It’s just taken time for the technology to catch up with the concept. This will also continue as digital technology assumes greater importance in the industry. BIM may evolve, as all methods do. However, it’s here to stay. With increasing BIM adoption rates, it’s unlikely the industry will head back to traditional CAD.
Myth #10 – It’s Just Software
Building information modelling needs modern software to thrive. Cloud computing and the new wave of digital design software packages play a huge role in its success.
What BIM is not is a piece of software. It’s a concept, and one that your firm must adopt fully to take advantage of. BIM changes the way you work, while using software to support your new methodology.
BIM requires you to think about all aspects of your project from the beginning. You’ll account for your processes and people, as well as your technology. In fact, most of your transition time goes towards retraining your people. The software is secondary to the working model.
The above list highlights some of the most enduring misconceptions surrounding BIM. You may have heard some of these myths before. In some cases, they may have prevented you from adopting BIM. People tell you that it costs a lot of money, takes too much time, or that it’s a fad.
Those people are wrong. BIM is here to stay because it offers many benefits to clients and the entire industry. The time and money saved in the long-term outweighs the short-term transition costs. BIM makes your workflows more efficient, and helps you to design sustainable structures. It also keeps every project stakeholder involved from the start of a project. You’ll spot mistakes faster, allowing you to rectify them before construction starts.
BIM is a methodology, but you do need the right software to make the most of it. That’s where ArchiStar Academy can help. We offer courses in the most current BIM-related software, including Revit and AutoCAD. With our guidance, you’ll learn how to use your data sets to create great models as part of the BIM method. Furthermore, ArchiStar Academy offers these software packages at industry-best prices.
You may still have questions about BIM, and how it could benefit your firm. If so, please don’t hesitate to contact ArchiStar Academy. We’ll provide the information and software you need to smoothen your transition to BIM.
ArchiStar Academy offers several courses across the spectrum of digital design software. You’ll develop your skills, allowing you to create more accurate and functional models.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Archistar Academy today if you have any questions.
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Posted on 19 Sep 2019