How can commercial contractors benefit from BIM software?

  • Articles
  • Feb 11,22
Building information modeling (BIM) is not the exclusive domain of architects and designers. These tools can provide benefits throughout the project lifecycle and benefit every construction professional involved, says Emily Newton.
How can commercial contractors benefit from BIM software?

Building information modeling (BIM) has become the norm throughout the construction industry. These project planning management tools have seen impressive adoption among architects and designers, but their usefulness doesn’t end there. Commercial contractors can also benefit from BIM.

The commercial sector leads other sectors in BIM adoption, with 63% of commercial firms using the software. However, most conversations around its utility focus on pre-construction processes and professionals. Despite this lack of representation, contractors leading on-site work can benefit just as much from BIM.

Here are four of the most significant ways commercial contractors can benefit from BIM software.

More accurate schedule and cost estimates
Before contractors begin building, BIM can help them deliver more accurate estimates to their clients. These estimates are rarely accurate with traditional tools, as it’s difficult to see how separate factors influence each other. BIM provides a consolidated view of all project factors, making it easier to judge how long it will take and how expensive it will be.

BIM models can also include real-time data on current material and talent costs and availability. This richness of information helps contractors stay up-to-date on what a project will cost in the current climate.

Of course, projects must stick to their estimates, too, and 20% of large construction projects run behind schedule. BIM can help here, too, as clash detection features help teams prevent time-consuming issues before they arise. Contractors will be able to stay within their estimates more consistently, producing an impressive record of reliability.

Reduced rework
Commercial contractors can also benefit from BIM through reduced rework. In the design phase, clash detection features in BIM software highlight potential issues that workers may not have noticed otherwise. They can then prevent errors from the start, leading to reduced or even eliminated rework during construction.

Traditionally, rework accounts for 30% of the work and 9% of the costs of any given project. By reducing errors that lead to it, contractors can become far more efficient and cost-effective. They could potentially save weeks of time and millions of dollars on a large commercial project.

Contractors can take these productivity benefits of BIM further through prefabrication. BIM software can instantly generate production drawings for manufacturing, enabling teams to prefabricate more of a structure. The improved accuracy of these prefabricated structures will help prevent rework by reducing the risk of on-site mistakes.

Clash detection features will also work as various stakeholders update the BIM model throughout construction. That way, if contractors alter their plans or design, they can still prevent rework that could arise from the changes. A project could undergo several changes and still avoid costly rework.

Improved communication
BIM can also improve communication for commercial contractors, their co-workers, and other project stakeholders. While BIM software is primarily a design tool, it also includes workflow management features. These tools can help manage a site, such as by automatically notifying project managers when teams aren’t using time well.

These workflow clash detection features can detect when a project isn’t proceeding according to schedule or is in danger of doing so. Contractors can then see what they need to change or who they need to contact to prevent delays. This insight will also help them speak with teams more effectively, especially when others also have access to BIM models.

The accessibility of BIM software makes it an ideal tool for sharing project updates. As various stakeholders make design or workflow changes, the software can update everyone with access to the project model. That way, everyone stays up-to-date on new developments as efficiently as possible.

Since BIM models include such robust data, every team can use them for their specific purposes. This creates a single source of truth for the whole project, reducing miscommunication by keeping everyone on the same page.

Easier project handover
Commercial contractors can also benefit from BIM as they wrap up a project. It’s easier to go through closing checklists with an easily accessible, accurate record of initial goals. Contractors can also look back through a BIM model’s update history to see how the project changed over time.

BIM models also provide the transparency that contractors need to equip property owners or managers for ongoing success. If any concerns or trends that inform future repairs arise during the project, they’ll have an accessible and detailed digital record. As contractors provide this information to new managers, they ensure a smoother, more successful handover.

BIM’s detailed 3D models also make it easier to locate HVAC systems and similar components for future repairs and upgrades. Facility managers will appreciate this, improving commercial contractors’ reputation in the industry.

Every construction professional can benefit from BIM
BIM is not the exclusive domain of architects and designers. These tools can provide benefits throughout the project lifecycle and benefit every construction professional involved.

Commercial contractors can see substantial benefits from BIM software if they implement it effectively. As more contractors adopt this software, projects will become more efficient, cost-effective, and collaborative.

About the author:
Emily Newton is a tech and industrial journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily.

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