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Tips to better manage projects that use BIM

Building information modeling (BIM) process has gained a lot of recognition over the past few years in the architecture and construction industry. As more and more architectural and engineering firms are employing BIM into their practice, project managers are consistently facing the challenge of managing teams that use BIM.

Having never used this relatively new workflow or the tools themselves, they are often unable to lead the way forward or use manpower and resources to their best advantage. Regardless of whether you’re a newbie or an expert, here is a list of rules to help better manage projects using BIM:

Understand the process

BIM is a methodology, not a tool. It is a collaborative process of creating coordinated, internally consistent and computable information about a building using a central system of 3d models rather than a separate set of 2d drawings. It is a new way of working that streamlines workflow using an integrated approach.

Know the capabilities of the tool

A Revit model is much more than a 3d model, it is a database of information which also allows for constructability analysis, quantity take-offs, performance analysis, facilities management and so on. Working in a model based framework ensures better accuracy; as elements shift in the plan, they move in elevations and sections. If you add windows in the exterior wall, window schedules get updated. Instant 3d visualization helps in making decisions earlier. At the very least learn how to open, close and navigate through a model, cut sections and print drawings.

Allocate more staff and fees to earlier phases

It is advisable to keep the project team consistent because familiarity with the model is important. Compared to a traditional process, it is more difficult to add staff last moment to meet deadline crunches. As a rule of thumb, 40-45 percent of the total fees should be assigned to SD and DD phase. Staff and bill higher during early phases and cut back on resources later, this will also help make decisions sooner. Explain the process to the client in detail, they may have some reservations but will thank you, eventually.

Follow the 60/40 rule

BIM workflow typically involves two steps: modeling and documentation. Assume about 60% of the time for modeling, rest for creating and annotating drawings. Establish design and documentation benchmarks and agree on the level of detailing for various components prior to modeling. Will the model be used for construction documentation or fabrication and assembly? Before you add a wall, establish its width, make and fire rating. Set the rules at the beginning.

Have a clash detection competition

A Revit model is capable of detecting spatial clashes between various systems in the building, such as ducts running through beams or lights hitting sprinklers. This allows for saving time and cost due to fewer errors during construction. While Revit allows for basic diagnostics, software such as Navisworks do an excellent job of identifying and documenting conflicts in detail. Set up every other coordination meeting to be virtual, discuss using the model. Have a clash detection competition among the team, winner gets an honorable mention. Or a bear hug.

Record and reuse, do not reinvent

Modeling can sometimes be time-consuming, especially when working with parametric components. But once created, they can be easily modified and reused in the future. Establish a system of documenting such components across all projects. The objective is not to restrict creativity but to separate the fixed from the flexible, such as separating bathrooms from apartment layouts within a residential tower. As this precious database grows, it will benefit the entire firm. Time for a raise?

Get mobile and carry it with you

Did you know that there are apps available where you can view, print, comment and share the model or other project information on the go? Contractors are using their tablets at project sites to track construction progress. This helps accelerate project schedules through greater efficiency and quality control since everybody uses a single source of information. Carrying paper pads and drawing rolls to the job site? No more. And last but not the least, try to have fun while you’re at it!

Note: This is a guest blog by Saurabh Goenka, Senior Associate and BIM Lead at S9 Architecture, New York.