BIM on The Front End : GC’s Paving the Way :#BIM


Most likely if you’re reading this post you’ve drank the cool aid and believe in BIM and Revit, you’re a convert, but what has been come fantastically apparent is the need to educate the need for it on the front end, and why the 20/80 rule may not apply, that is 20% soft costs, 80% building.  We have seen where productivity has been stagnant within the construction industry, because more elaborate buildings, systems, etc. using the same technology for scheduling, drafting, design negated any other positive gains.  On the flip side people are reporting such massive prodcutivity gains by using BIM and Revit you would think that any owner/developer would be demanding it on the front end and willing to pay for it, cue the GSA, State of Wisconsin, State of Texas, etc.  However, there is still a huge knowledge gap.

GC’s are paving the way for BIM.  They know that in order to do the work that is being created they have to be on board with Revit and BIM and they will be the ones ultimately responsible for the task, coordination and updating of the BIM.

The GC will use Revit as a cost savings tool.  How does this effect the developer/owner?  Might be invisible to them, as in, the process works like they expect it to, more often than not projects coming in on-time and on-budget, more competitive bids with firms knowing they can reduce problems (see zero defect building) digitally, and schedule better.  It’s a nail gun instead of a hammer.

Which brings me to the legal liability side of BIM, which I know nothing about but feel like I need to comment on, and I will tell you why.

I was preparing for a meeting with a University we did some work for, as they wanted to see what Revit could do for them as they asked for existing conditions plans in Revit just so they had the information/data about the building.  This was an architectural BIM with an RCP.  I called a friend who has nice sized GC firm that does a lot of academic work and asked if they could share some success stories about using Revit that I could share in my presentation.

He put me in touch with their MEP coordinator, who first told me his history.  He had his own HVAC install company for 20 years, went back to school to be trained in AutoCAD, and got other certificates (too many acronyms for me to remember), and then got trained up in Revit 2 years ago.  He had been with this firm for 10 years, so figure at around 50 he’s knocking this stuff out of the park.  He explained how he used to coordinate all the plans in AutoCAD, put each discipline on a a different layer/color and then go to work determining the issues in 2D.  Using Revit he would model everything in 3D, and since he was from the industry knew drain slopes, HVAC runs, etc. and without using collision detection software was finding stuff, such beam penetrations and drains intersecting with footings that you could imagine a ton of time/money.  GC’s will use it because it is a better tool.

Here’s the legal part for those of you scratching your head.  In his most recent project the architect said they had modeled the whole thing in Revit but would not share the model with him and only sent out the 2D plans.  Somewhere there’s a screw loose and it has to be on the liability front.  His thought was they were using young modelers that were not grounded in the profession so the interaction between everything would not be completely apparent to them so assumptions when modeling were not correct.  The contractor themselves might want to model it themselves because they would then have more confidence in the model.  However, when #1 cost for interoperability which is in the billions is the manual reentering of data you would hope this issue is being worked on to be resolved.

How’s this breaks out financially between firms and how much of a building’s cost moves to the virtual construction department?  Well I’ll start digging but if any reader out there has some data please post, as it will help us all sell projects.

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