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How does BIM help Contractors Achieve Improved Project Outcomes?

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by Harika Singh

About Author

Harika Singh is an academician and published writer. Her passion for engineering and technology reflects in the in-depth coverage she provides on technology trends. 20 years of work association with institutes of repute across India and the US positions her to provide valuable insights to business stakeholders on achieving scalability and operational efficiencies through digitalization.

General and specialty contractors are buying into BIM based on the potential benefits it offers. Similar to any other construction technology, BIM has gained significant traction. The use of cloud-based software and mobile devices has facilitated contractors to adopt BIM to deliver projects better and faster.


How does BIM help Contractors Achieve Improved Project Outcomes?


As the project grows in size, so does the complexity of managing it. Traditional 2D models and construction tools that involve manual estimation and calculation cannot fulfill the demands of today’s complex projects. Such manual processes are not only time-consuming but also increase the probability of error and miscalculation.


There are many stakeholders in any construction project. From project owners to architects, structural engineers, project partners, and contractors – everyone wants the project to be delivered on schedule and at least cost. However, the unseen and uncalculated hurdles involved in any project of this size can stall the progress and cause the project timelines to go out of control.


Construction contractors, whether seasoned or recent entrants, big or small, continue to face almost the same challenges on all construction projects.


Analysts forecast the Global Building Information Modeling Software Market to grow at a CAGR of 19.76% during the period 2019-2023


What are the challenges faced by General and Specialty Contractors without the adoption of BIM?


The construction industry is growing and evolving. Amidst increased technology adoption, a high level of growth brings challenges for contractors. Specialty contractors do face internal and external pressure as they are responsible for their team and general contractors as well. Pain points that surround general and specialty contractors can be listed as –


  • Labor shortage and technology adoption
  • Tighter building timeline and budgets
  • Teams working in silos or lack of coordination and collaboration
  • Integrating new processes and technology into existing practices
  • Compliance to new government regulations based on higher costs

The residual value of a building is little more than half the cost of its construction. Around 30% of building materials and 40% of working hours are wasted.-National BIM Report 2018


How can BIM help General and Specialty Contractors reap higher project success?


Put simply, it’s the potential benefits of BIM that help general and specialty contractors bring BIM into the fold. Read on how a BIM-based project uses intuitive 3D models to design, execute, and manage construction projects.


Take a look at the benefits that BIM provides general and specialty contractors.


  • Reduced rework and improved constructability
  • BIM is highly scalable and can be outsourced
  • Eliminates data silos through centralized information and team collaboration
  • BIM enables flexible design changes early on in the project
  • Reduction in cost and length of construction projects

Role of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in a construction project


BIM is a highly collaborative 3D model-based process that brings multiple stakeholders like architects, engineers, and contractors to collaborate and make project informed decisions.


BIM allows projects to be virtually built before the real structure comes up, allowing scope for removing any discrepancies that may be spotted. It removes inefficiencies from the process by enabling better information sharing between all concerned parties.


Building Information Modeling helps in:


  • Project-wide collaboration
  • Accurate project visualization
  • Model-based cost estimation
  • Improved work schedules bringing down project costs
  • Efficient exchange of information in a common format
  • 3D models add clarity to planning and design
  • Reduced errors eliminating rework
  • Reduced conflicts and clashes adding confidence
  • Significant cost savings

BIM for General Contractors


General Contractors need to look at the bigger picture and work on a construction project from the ideation phase to completion.


The adoption of BIM allows general contractors to efficiently plan, design, and construct buildings. General and specialty contractors can leverage BIM-based software like Revit and Navisworks to corroborate designs, models, leverage schedules and cost estimates, run simulations and more.  


Global research and reports in the world’s top construction markets reveal that building information modeling (BIM) helps contractors to improve productivity, efficiency, quality, and safety.


General contractors can deliver the project faster by reducing wastage in terms of time and resources. BIM helps them in continuous estimating, variance tracking and remediation to build efficiencies in the project.


The model is key to all phases of a building project – from the pre-construction phase to construction and post-construction. For a project to be successful, it is important that the project information is gathered accurately and shared and managed effectively.


The details and data provided through the 3D BIM models make for quick decision-making and reduced back-and-forth of processes.


For example, BIM allows contractors to assign materials and resources while the project is still in the design phase.


This helps them make an accurate prediction about how much resources will be required. By placing an order of only that much quantity of resources and materials helps in eliminating wastage and to save on the cost of the project.


The common data environment within BIM ensures that general contractors have all project information and site activity updates in one commonplace.


The general contractors can issue an RFI or modify orders into the model which can be directly reviewed by other stakeholders, architects, or designers. Work happens parallelly without one party becoming a bottleneck for any part of the project to progress.


BIM for Specialty contractors


Each subcontractor has a job unique to them, like plumbing, electricity, carpentry, concrete formulation, and large equipment operations. They get involved in a building project to fulfill a specific need and exit the project when their task is accomplished.


Each of them holds their information in their way. But they must work in synergy with other subcontractors and ensure the system is integrated and compliant with the project specifications. BIM allows the efficient flow of information among multiple subcontractors and all stakeholders in a standard format.


“By 2022, the BIM market is expected to grow to $7.64 billion”  -Research and Markets


For example, a manufacturer working as a subcontractor for a building project supplies materials that are being used in specialized tasks during the building construction.


The materials that he supplies must always be accompanied by information like the durability, maintenance requirements, or operating instructions to use them.


BIM enables a better flow of this information and adds significant value to the process by squeezing out resource wastage or redundant processes that can result from wrong information being passed on. By using BIM, the manufacturer can virtually design, engineer, and construct the project elements, delivering cost efficiencies.


BIM allows the manufacturer to prefabricate coordinated systems that give better controls over the project and benefits into shorter lead times.


Wrapping it up.....


Contractors have leveraged improved visibility of a project very early on in the building process via 3D BIM models. BIM requirements have become more defined with digital construction processes and a rich information stack.


Processes like quantity takeoff’s and construction sequencing have helped contractors complete projects on time, minimize errors, and save on project cost.


BIM offers contractors much more confidence in the materials required to build a project supported by accurate pricing. Utilizing model elements, contractors can gain better control over a project and reduce waste and risk.


Improved coordination and collaboration processes aid contractors in identifying and resolving problems in a virtual environment.


BIM is changing the possibilities that can be in the construction industry. It is transforming the way construction projects go from conceptualization to design and to completion stages and is fast gaining momentum as the industry is beginning to understand its true potential.