Is BIM Poised to Break Through?

February 13, 2019 Conley Smith

Contractors—from flooring to roofing—have heard it all before. The construction industry is slow to adopt new tech tools and has a serious productivity problem.

Reversing this trend with the right technology can mean anything from going paperless to taking the plunge with the latest interactive modeling platform. Ultimately, many of these tech decisions come down to a contractor’s size, budget, and needs.

However, when it comes to Building Information Modeling (BIM), many construction firms have yet to make BIM a priority for their business, according to the 2018 JBKnowledge ConTech Report. The survey of nearly 3,000 construction businesses showed that only half reported having staff who handle BIM. Of those, nearly a third do not even bid projects involving BIM.

BIM by the Numbers

The number of companies opting out of BIM work did not change from 2017 to 2018, according to the ConTech Report, which found:

  • 27.9% do not bid on BIM projects
  • 23.9% have a BIM department
  • 22.1% have one or two employees on staff that can work within BIM
  • 9.5% outsource BIM entirely
  • 7.5% outsource a portion of BIM

In fact, contractors’ confidence in BIM fell from an average confidence score of 8 in 2017 to a 7 in 2018. Even those with a BIM staff said BIM only accounts for 36% of their active projects.

Of those using BIM, 61.5% applied the technology to coordination and clash detection and over 47% reported using it for both visualization and project planning. Only 30% reported using BIM for takeoffs and 32.6% for estimating.

Benefits May Outweigh Barriers

You’ve likely heard a lot about the benefits of BIM—from smoother collaboration and communication to better design and building construction. For contractors, BIM is a great way to share information and collaborate when it comes to planning, designing, constructing, and managing projects.

With BIM, the contractor and owner can be more efficient in working through project conflicts before anyone sets foot on a construction site. As such, BIM can help construction firms detect problems, visualize, and project plan. When staff is trained on BIM, it allows more issues to be solved digitally before projects ever start to avoid physical re-work later.

Training Qualified Staff is Key

What the ConTech Report found is that some contractors only use BIM when it is required by the project owner. Some of the barriers to adopting BIM include finding qualified staff to train and finding the budget for it. In addition, getting staff buy-in can be difficult as some will view BIM as a never-ending feedback loop of changes.

The ConTech Report notes that part of the problem with BIM is the need for more education and training for dedicated BIM staff. For cost estimators, the concern with BIM has long been that it is nearly impossible for a single designer to include the uniqueness of each trade.

Designers do not typically deal with methods and materials. For example, they may know that a wall needs to be framed, but they don’t tell you how the wall is to be framed. Nor can it specify each component and part to make up the wall.

Is 5D-BIM a Game-Changer?

While 3D refers to 3D-generated drawings and 4D involves time management, 5D concerns project cost data. As such, 5D-BIM modeling connects a 3D object, its parts, and the entire assembly model to cost estimating. With 5D-BIM, contractors can may sure every element—from square footage to pricing is conceptualized—for budget tracking and cost analysis.

Will 5D-BIM revolutionize preconstruction as it allows you to see beyond just how changes impact a design? Experts say 5D allows for greater accuracy and predictability in a project’s estimate, scope, materials, and manpower. It also allows more people to be involved in the conversation, instead of waiting for information.

For example, Georgia Tech is using 5D modeling to avoid costly design errors and scheduling delays for a $100 million campus construction project. This shows how 5D BIM can go beyond the conventional building design of two- and three-dimensional designs with the added dimensions of time (4D) and cost (5D).

BIM Market Poised to Grow

Just how big is the BIM market outlook? Zion Market Research put the global BIM market at $3.52 billion in 2016 with growth expected to reach $10.3 billion by 2022. When weighing the pros and cons of BIM, it may come down to the size of the project and if a contractor has the staff to manage the process daily.

No matter where you are in your digital journey, BIM will likely play a big part in future construction projects. Learn more when you download On Center’s white paper, “Is Takeoff Dead?” It provides a closer look at how BIM falls short when it comes to adding data elements or additional drawings to prepare a cost estimate on a project.

 

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