Self-Taught MBA: Are You Ready for Building Information Modeling? - Fine Homebuilding

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Building Business

Building Business


Self-Taught MBA: Are You Ready for Building Information Modeling?

comments (4) February 15th, 2013 in Blogs
FPR Fernando Pages Ruiz, contributor

Construction documents derived from the building model are higher in quality, reducing costs of changes and manual coordination due to the automatic iterative changes throughout the documentation process.
Automate the creation of schedules of building components in order to drive data and improve the visibility of costs and quantities.
Material Takeoff precisely verifies material quantities for cost estimates and significantly smoothes the material quantity tracking process.
Revit LT supports the process most firms use to produce layered DWG files, so you can ease interactions with suppliers and subs, accelerating the design and documentation process. 
Construction documents derived from the building model are higher in quality, reducing costs of changes and manual coordination due to the automatic iterative changes throughout the documentation process.Click To Enlarge

Construction documents derived from the building model are higher in quality, reducing costs of changes and manual coordination due to the automatic iterative changes throughout the documentation process.

Photo: Courtesy Autodesk

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Guest post by Kristin Dispenza

Unlike traditional building design, which relies on two-dimensional drawings, building information modeling (BIM) provides design information in five dimensions: width, height, depth, time, and cost. More than just a construction plan, BIM also covers geographic information, light analysis, and details about a building's components.

The resulting building information models include every layer of a building--not just a superficial line representation but a complete virtual construction with fine detail and depth. They include frame, mechanical, and electrical installations, and finish layers, such as drywall and paint. It's all there, with associated costs and labor timetables--a complete model of the structure that can be manipulated in every dimension, including the schedule and budget, before anything at all is actually built. 

Feel intimidated?
Let's step back a few decades, when businesses began the full-scale adoption of personal computers and when software purchases would arrive in oversize cartons accompanied by entire sets of user manuals--sometimes as many as ten separate volumes! We all know that those days are gone, yet maybe when you imagine learning new software, somewhere in the back of your mind a vision of those ten manuals is lurking. 

Add to that the fact that one thing hasn't changed over those same decades: We are still seeing software releases that represent a completely new way of doing business, pushing us out of our comfort zone and challenging our day-to-day workflow. For the design and construction industries, this means BIM. 

When it's 'just you'
Surveys conducted by Building Design & Construction over the past couple of years indicate that among large design firms, BIM adoption has topped 80%. The numbers also are growing among the nation's top 50 home-building firms, and the promised benefits to the bottom line are being realized, with the principle benefits coming during construction, as critical details on how different systems interact are resolved before ground is broken, thereby eliminating job-site head scratching. BIM not only will help tailor ductwork layouts and waste lines that don't require improvised chases and drops, but it will also prevent job-site design problems--such a roofline that makes it impossible to properly flash a window, or a bulkhead that forces a trim carpenter to cut down all the lintel casings along a corridor--which can be almost invisible in two dimensions.  

With BIM, plans can be so accurate that your lumberyard could drill precise plumbing holes in your joists and wall studs, saving hours of on-site labor.

Unfortunately, among smaller design and construction firms, the number of early adopters has not been robust. Yet small firms know that they are competing in the same landscape as the larger ones, and that the practices that are becoming so established among the profession's trailblazers will end up changing the work environment for everyone. Still, for most small firms, BIM continues to loom in the distance. 

Joy Stark, industry marketing manager for the popular architecture design software company Autodesk, confirms that while some small firms have been convinced of the benefits of BIM and have adopted a new workflow, many others still haven't made the move to BIM. In response, Autodesk started a conversation with a few of those reluctant firms several years ago to find out precisely what the barriers were. The two main culprits were time and expense. In a small firm, explains Stark, where there may only be two or three employees, committing the time to learn new software often takes too much time away from talking with clients or working on current projects. "Expenses often come right out of the owner's pockets," she says. "Sometimes it is a question of 'Do I go on vacation, or do I invest in a software upgrade?' Yet the pressure is on to provide the same services [as other firms]."

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posted in: Blogs, business, green building, architecture, floor plans

Comments (4)

KristinDispenza KristinDispenza writes: db5, I do have an answer for you that comes straight from Autodesk.

First let me say that as far as I can tell from the research and interviews I did for the above article, Autodesk is well aware of the fact that so far small firms have had a lot of difficulty implementing BIM because of just what the commenters in this thread have identified: time and expense. Revit LT, and Project Spark before it, represent the company’s efforts at developing a scaled down product – hopefully one that is easier to use as well as cheaper. (Have any readers out there used Revit LT, and do you in fact find this program to be more intuitive than previous versions?)

As for the issues that db5 had viewing files for other disciplines, Joy Stark of Autodesk says that the problem may have been encountered because some visibility settings needed to be adjusted. At any rate, some of the Revit programs have been recently released as a part of the company's Design Suites, which allow access to multiple products with a single subscription. In Joy Stark’s words: “All Autodesk Revit software files can be opened, edited, and modified in any Autodesk Revit application. AutoCAD Revit Architecture users can open AutoCAD Revit Structure files, and view and modify structural designs, including beams. In addition, Autodesk introduced Autodesk Revit, a new addition to the Revit family of products, which combines the functionality in Autodesk Revit Architecture, Autodesk Revit Structure, and Autodesk Revit MEP in a single application, which is available in Autodesk Building Design Suite Premium and Ultimate editions. Autodesk Revit provides a comprehensive set of tools for architectural design, structural engineering, MEP engineering, and construction, enabling users to access a broader set of tools and content, customize your toolset based on your firm’s unique needs, improve multi-disciplinary workflows, and streamline deployment.

Posted: 11:04 am on February 21st

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: Garbage in = garbage out; as the old saying goes. In my experience BIM works like that. Unfortunately the garbage doesn't as often come from the CAD user as it comes from the software provider.

Autodesk is the most notorious CAD company for providing more hassle than the end result is worth. A good BIM would have intuition enough to automatically prescribe most of it's own information or at least make the tedious task easy enough to make a user want to use it. However, the geniuses over at Autodesk decided to force the user to fill out forms (often in the most awkward manner) each time they want to insert and/or manipulate a BIM associated entity. Try to move fast & efficiently and the [often unnecessary] stream of options tend to trip you up. Insert a new part, then 20 questions later you may be able to draw something; try to manipulate that part and you must start the BIM from scratch.

I often think that the Autodesk style of BIM recording could be great if only I could afford to pay someone to input the BIM data all day. It's sad that a company with so poor of a grasp on the user experience is the top dog in the CAD market. As many others can similarly attest, I only use AutoCAD because I am forced to in order to cross collaborate with the "industry standard". Autodesk makes it even harder to swallow by charging OBSURD prices for this necessary ware. I can only hope that more companies like @Last Software (developers of Sketchup) will take a shot at unseating the giant.

DC

Posted: 7:39 am on February 21st

FPR FPR writes: Great observations db5 -- I am very glad you wrote.

I forwarded you comments to Kristin Dispenza, the architectural journalist that contributed this post, and she went straight to the top in the quest to reply to your questions: Someone at the highest level of Autodesk is working on getting you specific answers, and Kristine will post them here as soon as she hears back.

Stay tuned!






Posted: 5:31 pm on February 19th

db5 db5 writes: What this article fails to mention is that unlike regular CAD software, BIM (specifically Autodesk's version) requires a license for each discipline. That's one for architecture, one for structural, one for mechanical, one for plumbing, one for electrical... you get my point? I can't even see a beam I spec'd and placed with the Architecture version without having a structural seat.

So, if your the small firm with me, myself, and I who just wants to do homes and just need to show these systems for permitting, good luck! Those license fees are even higher than at first glance. That is, unless Autodesk has changed it's licensing scheme since I checked about a year ago.

For large projects where cavity spaces are tight, BIM is great! The last place I worked at had just started adopting BIM for this reason. However, for the one man or few-man show running smaller projects, I find the price a hard pill to swallow when the up-front time investment of setting up your details is so staggering.

Mr. Ruiz, if you can tell us how this situation is different now, please let on. Autodesk Architecture w/ smart schedules, walls, etc. is about as far as I'm willing to lean to letting software take control of my plans. I still draw details, sections elevations etc. from scratch (or a similar template).
Posted: 1:07 am on February 17th

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