The Case for Investing in 3-D Modeling

The ability to employ three-dimensional real-time, dynamic modeling software to coordinate the design and installation of base building systems is fast becoming a prerequisite for participation in large building projects.

The reason? Three-dimensional design specifications — also known as Building Information Modeling — allow project team members to identify and resolve clashes before projects break ground, thereby avoiding costly and time-consuming delays in the field. BIM documents also provide building owners with a veritable road map of systems and components that require maintenance or replacement — a plus for facility managers and building engineers.

How expensive is it to invest in BIM software?

The going price for the software is about $50,000. Individual licenses cost about $10,000 apiece.

That's expensive. What's my return on investment?

ROI is slow in coming. Users face as steep learning curves they must negotiate with trial and error. Few, if any, manuals or consultants are available to provide assistance. Designers and builders who are proficient in two-dimensional design software are obvious candidates to lead your firm's efforts.

What if my firm can't afford BIM software and licenses?

Fortunately, you can contract with agencies that supply the manpower and expertise. BIM operators can be brought in for the duration of the project and participate in design and construction phases in much the same way as full-time employees.

What are the greatest benefits of adopting BIM?

Entree to larger and potentially more profitable projects. BIM also promotes prefabrication of system components and fewer mishaps in the field, both of which will improve your bottom line.

Any pitfalls?

General contractors and construction managers generally appoint a BIM coordinator to mediate among trades. Assuming conflicts exist on paper, the coordinator may elect to alter provisions of your original bid, a potentially costly scenario if the modifications result in greater labor or material costs.