Smaller Firms Lagging Behind on BIM, Says BD Survey


Costs and staffing issues named as reasons for slow take-up 

Smaller practices are lagging behind their larger peers when it comes to using BIM on their projects.

A major BD survey of more than 300 firms reveals that two-thirds of those surveyed have used BIM on a project before.

Over 90% of firms with a turnover of £10 million or more say they have used BIM but this figure falls away sharply for smaller practices – with more than four out of 10 firms with a turnover between £250,000 and £1 million saying they hadn’t used BIM.

For firms with a workload of between £250,000 and £500,000, the figure for those not having used BIM rises to close to half.

Smaller firms say higher costs, finding the right people and lack of client interest are the biggest reasons why they haven’t used BIM.

And the survey also reveals that more firms don’t think BIM will help them secure higher fees and revenues through developing an expertise in BIM – with 44% answering no, compared to 42% who answered yes.

Russell Curtis, a director with RCKa Architects, said he was surprised smaller practices were slow to embrace BIM – and warned they should so before it is too late.

“It’s far more challenging and costly as a larger practice to switch from one platform to another, so it’s somewhat surprising that smaller firms have resisted making this leap,” he said. “I wonder whether this is partly to do with scepticism about the benefits that BIM can bring to a small practice but those that ignore the opportunities that it provides will struggle to compete as adoption becomes more commonplace.”

And Hawkins Brown’s project delivery director Nigel Ostime said firms should wear the upfront costs now to reap the benefits down the line.

“Architects will need the capacity to bear the initial investment [but they will be] able to deliver greater value to their clients and higher profit margins through lower cost.”

Other results from the survey show that architects believe it is their profession which is leading the take-up of BIM throughout the construction industry.

The profession scored one third of the answers when asked who was driving the adoption of BIM in the project team and more than half said it was architects who were most likely to take on the role of BIM co-ordinator on a project.

“The adoption of BIM allows architects to reclaim their position as the linchpin of the design team,” Curtis added.

By 2016, all centrally procured government construction projects must be delivered using BIM.

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