Top Five Misconceptions about Building Information Modeling

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In the world of building design and construction, as well as civil infrastructure, Building Information Modeling [BIM] has become an essential factor for the future of making our homes, commercial buildings, roads, highways, water systems, and more. 

Governments around the world are mandating or recommending BIM, recognizing its value for helping to deliver projects successfully by lowering project risk and inefficiencies, improving productivity and safety records and keeping projects to time. 

Nations now mandating the use of BIM, include the USA’s GSA and Army Corps of Engineers, Norway, UK, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands , Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Japan , Korea, just to name a few.

Not familiar with BIM?  BIM is an intelligent model-based process that helps make design, engineering, project, and operational information accurate, accessible and actionable for buildings and infrastructure.  Project teams can create and share a data rich model and use the same consistent data to improve understanding and decision making from conceptual design through construction documentation and for operations and maintenance.

Despite becoming a widely adopted process, some myths, or misconceptions, still linger slowing universal acceptance.   Here are five key myths that need to be exposed:

#1 – Misconception: BIM is just for buildings, possibly even only for architects. 

Building Information Modeling describes a process and that process is well suited for all types of building and civil infrastructure projects. The benefits of using BIM, as reported in McGraw Hill Construction Smart Market Reports, include:

  • Optimized designs and improved quality
  • Less rework, waste, and cost (result of more efficient workflows)
  • Compressed project schedules (and improved outcomes)
  • Improved predictability and profitability

#2 – Misconception: BIM requires a highly detailed model that only experts can create. 

BIM starts with a 3D model, but it’s more than that.   First, no matter how the model gets created, BIM is all about the “I” – the information. With today’s technology, it is possible to gather, synthesize, and share immense amounts of data on any given project or portfolio of assets. More and more we see this information coming in the form of reality capture [laser scans and digital photography], GIS and other publically available data sets [including demographic, zoning, and economic or environmental information].  In construction, that information can take the form of bid sheets, contracts, price lists, and schedules. With a data-rich design or construction model created using a BIM-based design tool,  such as Autodesk Revit or InfraWorks 360, you can:

  • Simulate and visualize key physical and functional characteristics of the design  
  • Coordinate project information and scheduling and collaborate with stakeholders
  • Build smarter, more agile processes that help retain knowledge and support quality targets

 #3 – Misconception: BIM adoption is low, especially in civil engineering and construction

The construction sector overtook architects as the fastest growing segment to adopt BIM. Government mandates and owner requirements are increasingly driving the use of BIM on public infrastructure projects to help reduce risk and cost.  See the BIM Value of Construction Smart Market Report from Dodge.

#4 – Misconception: BIM is old news. 

The time has never been more important for BIM! Disruptive innovation is transforming markets and traditional methods of working are being displaced. As tools and process are evolving rapidly, blurring the lines between physical and digital, and creating a new era of connection, BIM provides a critical foundation that can help designers, builders and owners gain the competitive advantage with a greater ability to access, share, and make useful enormous amounts of information throughout the lifecycle of buildings and infrastructure.   In the era of connection, you are beginning to see the following:

  • Connected Teams -- Transition from applications and files to put the project in the center from the start.  Project and teams are kept up to date in the office and on the job site, using the cloud, connected data and systems to unlock capabilities to share and collaborate across the lifecycle in real time without barriers.
  • Connected Insight -- Huge amounts of data are now available and connected technology helps to make the data useful to the project. In context, accurate information allows for informed decision making and engagement at every stage of the lifecycle, allowing for the “best possible” as opposed to today’s “best practical”
  • Connected Outcomes -- Start with the desired outcome, scripting the rules for design and harnessing the computing power of the cloud to explore a near infinite range of possibilities. Software becomes an advisor in the design and engineering process, ensuring optimal designs in a fraction of the time.
  • Connected Delivery -- As the lines between digital processing and the physical systems blur, the design and build phases of projects are moving closer together. Seamless integration of these processes translates intent to execution flawlessly, saving time and money

#5 – Misconception: The value of BIM ends with the completion of a project

Nothing could be further from the truth!  As noted above, BIM has great value to owners during the design and construction phase, but also has enduring value for building or infrastructure operations and maintenance.  The intelligent data within a project's BIM model can be used, for example, to support preventative maintenance and scheduling, building systems analysis, asset management, space management and tracking, and disaster planning. 


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