BIM Specialist LLC

Building Information Modeling
& Virtual Design/Construction

We know, it's confusing.

Everyone says they have BIM... but what does that mean?  McGraw Hill's SmartMarket Report: 2012 Business Value of BIM, claims BIM adoption in the US has increased from 17% in 2007 to over 71% in 2012.  However, there is considerable BIM-wash in the industry and BIM means different things to different companies.  According to the National BIM Standard, "Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition."  In reality, Building Information Modeling is a process not a thing - a verb rather than a noun, if you will.  You cannot buy it on a disk and it does not come in a box.  The Building Information Model (the product of the process) is a database of information about the building.  This database can be presented and explored in a variety of ways - and ONE of those ways is as a three-dimensional model.  The misconception that a 3D model is BIM is rampant -- simply making 3D models does not grant designers and contractors the benefits of Building Information Modeling.  This one misconception is the source of at least 75% of the frustration I see companies experiencing when implementing BIM.  

The BIM process has evolved from academic concept to urgent need over the last decade in response to the falling performance of the construction industry - from designers and engineers to contractors and facilities management - since 1960.  The goal is to eliminate poor coordination and improve collaboration and communication between trades and move towards greater efficiency.  Once you understand the causes of dropping productivity, it is easy to see why simply changing software isn't really a solution.  Business as usual with new software isn't going to cut it.  That being said, adopting Revit, or ArchiCAD, or another BIM authoring platform, will eventually encourage changes in business processes but the time scale may be to great to realize any meaningful return on investment if the company manages to stay in business long enough.  Competition is tough these days and companies who can deliver better projects with more predictable outcomes will survive.  Fumbling through the learning process alone can be time consuming when time is money.  With 70% of building projects missing their target budgets and schedules, and design and construction costs including some $400 billion in waste each year, now is the time to adopt (and demand) processes that improve efficiency and reduce errors and re-work.  BIM is one of those key processes and the foundation for many more.  If you think you are ready to begin (or get serious,) let us point you in the right direction.

Building Information Modeling Software

If you are considering BIM, you have likely had some kind of software marketed to you.  There are several options out there and they generally produce the same results -- which is the goal.  Interoperability of data is a major hurdle when collaborating with others and almost all the major players take that seriously.  Individual software companies can do the selling themselves and in the end, it comes down to what software package you feel most comfortable with and which package fits the way you work.  Thanks to the buildingSMARTalliance and the National Institute of Building Science, all serious software solutions can export to an IFC (Industry Foundation Class) file that can be imported by any other serious software solution.  If you like ArchiCAD... use it!  If you are more at home with an Autodesk product like Revit, that’s OK, too.  We use Autodesk’s Building Design Suite which is built around Autodesk Revit.

 

Other than the basic authoring application, there are a host of software packages designed to analyze the Building Information Models in a variety of ways: Structurally, Energy Efficiency, Code Compliance, Thermal Dynamics, Daylighting, and even crowd control.  There are software packages designed to manage BIM data for construction sequencing, estimating, specification writing and facility management as well.  If there is a need for any information about a building, there is a BIM application to address it.

As-Built BIM for Facility Management
Interior Lighting Study

Beyond the Box

The most common challenge companies encounter with BIM is incorporating the software into a workflow that supports BIM.  There are many promises made with regard to Building Information Modeling and they do not magically appear with the installation of the software, as most companies discover.  Implementation of BIM requires a careful examination of your company's workflows and technologies.  Learning how to digitally collaborate with your team to make models and transform them into buildings is a challenge for many companies.  How to share information, when to share information and what information to share can seem like simple questions but without clear answers at the beginning a project can be headed for disaster right away.  A BIM execution plan is essential for making sure everyone understands these questions and their role in the project.  We look at data management from the BIM Model all the way down to how files are named and who’s involved in the project, because this is all building information.

 

I've been quoted as saying that "using Revit to make 2D drawings is like using a laptop to hammer nails."  It works that way but it is an expensive hammer.  Many companies look at BIM as a 3D drafting tool.  While this is a possible use for Revit or ArchiCAD, it is a depressing underuse of the software tools at our disposal -- and these tools are continuing to evolve, doing more for us all the time.  Effectively using these tools means striving towards 4 goals:

  • Better Communication
  • Improved Understanding
  • Increased Collaboration
  • Effective Visualization.

The effective visualization aspect understandably takes center stage in most discussions because it is the easiest to demonstrate.  However, the other three goals are intrinsically tied to it.  The success of a Building Information Modeling implementation must be measured against all FOUR goals.  Ask yourself, "Are we communicating better?  Is there improved understanding between parties?  Has collaboration increased?"  If not, then no amount of pretty pictures will make the implementation a success.  It may be time to look at how you are using your software tools.

As a part of your team, we will help you make your software work towards your goals.  We understand the industry as well as the software.  We're not here to do it for you, we're here to help you do it yourself.  You are the experts in your portion of the project whether it's architectural design, MEP, structural design or construction.  You know what you want; our job is to help you get it without the hours of frustration that can set in after introductory software training ends.  We are especially good at designing unique (and repeatable) solutions to common frustrations in building design using Revit or the data contained inside the project files.

Site Planning
Clash Detection
Adjacency Study
BIM Capability Maturity Index

BIM Services

We offer a broad spectrum of BIM Services for our clients that span from informal coaching and planning to full-time production management.  Use us as BIM mentors, problem solvers or custom content developers.  We do family creation, project templates and BIM Execution Plans.  The following lists some of the services we can provide for Revit users tackling BIM projects or implementations:

  • Effective Team Building
  • Collaborative Workflow Integration
  • Authoring and Negotiating BIM Execution Plans
  • AIA E202 (2008) BIM Protocol Exhibit
  • Establishing BIM Office Standards
  • Custom Content Creation
  • Design Model Coordination
  • Navisworks Clash Detection & Reporting
  • Autodesk Revit Training/Tutoring
  • Information Management
  • Best Practices
  • BIM Coaching & Problem Solving
  • Model Evaluation and Checking
  • Model Progression Specifications (MPS / AIA E202-2008)
  • Worksets and Multiperson Modeling Efforts
  • Daylighting Studies
  • Schematic Energy Analysis

 

 

Bird's Eye View

 

Energy Comparison