Friday, May 18, 2018

There is ONE critical thing every building-project owner should know about BIM!

When it comes to BIM, the industry seems to split neatly over two groups:
One, a tiny one is made up of those that publicly accept to know absolutely nothing about BIM and are happy to stay as such.
The other, a significantly larger group consist of almost everyone else and they are the ones that know ‘everything’ about BIM.

This state of affairs has its amusing side, mostly for those that truly know ‘something’ about BIM (but are of course in the ‘know everything’ assemblage) – at every opportunity when the ones that ‘know very little’, expose their BIM ignorance lavishly, through stating/discussing/teaching ‘facts about BIM’.

I’ve spent many-many years patiently (or less so) debunking some of those ‘facts’, with very little impact on their ability to grow and flourish and reach incredible levels of fiction by now.

Not surprisingly though gradually, self-preservation has triumphed over my altruistic tendencies to create a ‘well informed – BIM literate industry’ and I stopped trying to put right every BIM-mislead soul I come across in my day-to-day work.
Let them eat their make-believe BIM cake, what do I care?

But even with my newly found ‘better bend than break’ attitude, I can’t help having this misplaced feeling of responsibility to ‘do the right thing’, from time to time.

Like now.
So, here we are, a quick and easy takeaway for all that work in the AEC industry and can be defined as, building-project owners.
This term (for me) includes everybody that purchases from the AEC industry, from small house-renovators that rely on small scale designers-documenters and builders, through groups of people making up boards of trustees of schools, hospitals and other organizations that procure building works from the industry, all the way to unscrupulous developers that get their millions and emotional kicks from screwing anyone that comes across them.

All of you building-project owners, through your journey in realizing some sort of a building-related goal/dream will come across people ‘selling you BIM services’.

They will be wearing the uniforms of architects telling you that you must pay extra, so they can produce their drawings by ‘drawing in 3D’.
They will be kitchen designers that will argue, that you should consider giving them a bit extra for your joinery to be documented in 3D.
They might also be respectable, large contractors claiming to give you a better process (and less variations?) if their P&Gs were expanded to cover some BIM offerings too.
They might be specialist BIM consultants wanting your dollars to check on the design consultants work, or they may be QS’s claiming to calculate quantities better when paid for a BIM-enabled service.

Whoever they are and as much as they are respectable, trustworthy and genuinely nice people, don’t fall for this ploy!

Standard BIM should not cost extra.
iIn fact, the cost of ‘standard services’ of document manipulation within the industry (this includes everything to do with ‘drawings and design’) should be priced to deliver a fit-for-purpose product (usually a building) at an agreed level of quality and at an agreed cost within and agreed time, regardless of how the documents are produced.
Whether done on butter paper in pencil, by flatCAD or full-blown BIM, should have no impact on the services’ cost.

True, each of the three types of media I just mentioned would give the end-users (i.e. the paying client) a different level of ‘enjoyment’ through the process, nevertheless for any of them to be worth paying for, they must be fit-for-purpose.
Building design, at any scale or discipline flavor is not a hamburger meal that can be up or down sized.
It is pretty much a one-size fits all.

So, again, if you are a building-project client – as an individual or part of an organization, you should not be asked (or forced) to pay extra for ‘standard BIM’ even when you are burdened by a government mandated (dog’s breakfast of a) BIM.

BIM, standard BIM. What is (a) STANDARD BIM?
Now, the definition of “standard BIM’ will unlikely to be in any official BIM standard.
Though, I have not checked – reading those makes me depressed.

According to my own, unofficial understanding of everything BIM, the meaning of “Standard BIM’ is everything that is BIM but is not ‘value added’.
Clear as mud?

Think of it like this, if the argument for BIM is that it will foster better communication and co-ordination, identify errors early, reduce rework, reduce costs and overall improve quality of deliverables – then you’d have the right to ask if the pre-BIM delivery of the said service provider was in fact poorly coordinated, full of errors, costlier and of questionable quality?

Unless the BIM enabled deliverer is going for its very first gig, it is unlikely anyone working in pre-BIM era would admit to having produced less than perfect services before they got all BIMmed up, even though we all know, that they all have been and still are, BIM or no BIM.

If you want to easily clarify if something is (or is not) a value-added BIM, here is a tip: was this part of the ‘standard services’ (of the architect, other consultant, contractor etc) before BIM came on board?
If yes, then it is not a value-added BIM (i.e. fully coordinated and buildable drawings, fully accurate as built documents or reliable quantities).

One that is a value-added BIM, addition of FM data into the model (and making the model fully available to the client). Another is providing a ‘buildable’ model, something the contractor can really build off. (very risky and not for BIM amateurs).

Internationally, the role of BIM (Building Information Modelling) is growing exponentially within the construction design and build industry and there is strong momentum to implement and realise its benefits.
Building project owners are responsible for supporting the ‘good intentions’ of this approach as much as the other industry participants. However, it can not become a simple ‘tax’ where any and all costs of BIM-enablement is passed onto these owners.

Unless, of course there is an industry-wide admission that the last 20-30 years of pre-BIM offerings of the industry were less than adequate, i.e. not fit for purpose.

Picture borrowed from here:


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  2. Regarding two groups of BIM knowledge - from my experience there are three groups, people who know close to nothing, people who pretend to know 'everything' and people who actually know something about BIM and keep on improving their knowledge through experience in projects and education. Unfortunately, the third group is most of the time seen by others as part of 'know it all' bubble. This is normal, hype comes with every new invention, technology, once they become publicly available . Another recent example of a bubble in the EU - GDPR, which requires more openness and clarification from the companies on the use of personal data. As soon as it was clear that GDPR is coming (deadline was 25th of May 2018), so many new 'specialists' appeared, charging huge amounts of money, however the closer to the date and more information available it all calmed down. I know it is not going to happen very quickly with BIM, but the projects are being carried out to a certain level (mostly on the larger scale) and experience is building up, mistakes are made and learning is happening. Give it another 10 years and BIM processes will be everyday thing for the construction industry.
    Many do not understand that even using 2D drawings, you are in the BIM environment, described sometimes as BIM Level 0, as information is shared, communication is happening and buildings are built. I totally agree with you that Client should not be paying additionally for 'BIM service' as the main idea of implementing BIM processes by Architects, QSs, Contractors to create a better flow of information between parties involved, lower the wasted time, materials, without compromising quality of the final product. However it is natural, that companies are trying to charge Clients for such services, as implementation often does not come cheap, especially when Software Sellers are used as BIM consultants.
    The main issue with using traditional approach with drawings, it is error prone as too much of interpretation is required - Client requires a building, architect 'sees' it and creates it in 3 dimensions in his head, then this vision is transferred into 2 dimensional drawings by technicians, when it comes to pricing, structural calculations - again QS or Structural engineer are interpreting drawings and creating three dimensional model in their heads to better understand requirements and produce calculations. The same issue happens during actual construction - tradesmen, site manager, etc. have to look at the drawings and convert them in their minds to relate them to the actual construction happening. While progressing to 3D models and further including additional information as sometimes called 4D, 5D and … going to improve the actual process and final product, extending the actual usefulness of initial information up to the end of life of the building.

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