What B-I-M Means to Y-O-U Blog Feature

By: Dave Wilde on March 19, 2013

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What B-I-M Means to Y-O-U

Church Design | Church Construction

Acronyms. As you may have already experienced, there’s no shortage of them in the design and construction field. Nowadays, there’s a new one floating around in the industry—BIM—which stands for Building Information Modeling (or Management).

In short, it’s a new software platform that creates a three dimensional model database, housing all the key information that goes into building a facility. And while it does create a 3D digital representation of a building, it goes well beyond traditional computer-aided design (CAD) programs by using actual construction assemblies, materials, and products.

BIM processes have replaced two-dimensional drafting software in producing the floor plans you and your teams review throughout the building process. Today, more than 70% of both architectural and construction firms now leverage this powerful tool in their creations.

So what’s this mean to you?

If your design partner uses BIM software, there are several implications that can impact your building plans. Here are three:

  1. Timelines:  The BIM software offers robust control and detailed information. As it virtually constructs your building with 3D assemblies, objects and systems, it’s also keeping track of key data points for each element, such as cost, length, height, volume, manufacturer, performance, etc. The prototype can report costs, energy analyses, and building element clashes, and it can also calculate quantities, areas, and volumes of your building. With these advanced capabilities within the BIM software, decisions may need to be made sooner in the process. You’ll want to ask your design partner if they are using BIM to ensure that you have the right people assembled early enough in the process. You’ll also want to ask what information is being extracted from the models so that you can have as much valuable information as you want at your fingertips.
  2. Collaboration:  For it to be fully effective, BIM software requires teams to work in a non-linear way, which means that decisions cannot be made in a chronological manner. Workflow of all the design elements and corresponding decisions will all be happening concurrently. Consequently, your teams need to be assembled sooner and be ready for robust collaboration. Be sure to ask your design partner how the communication stream will be organized.
  3. Groundwork:  BIM software has been designed to produce high-quality, detailed drawings that will be used in the end by construction crews. However, its robust capabilities also make it a bit rigid—making changes to the design schemes and options made farther down the road increasingly difficult. As a result, the preliminary concept “sketch” design phases of the process become even more critical to you and your teams. They will lay the foundation for future work. Be certain you have a preliminary design process that’s full of conceptualizing, sketching, dreaming and planning to make sure you have captured your own DNA. The right design partner will be able to effectively manage this early design phase process.

BIM software can be extremely powerful for your current or expected building project. Be sure to connect with the best design partner to leverage it for your unique needs.