Short for “building information modeling,” BIM and general construction are more compatible than ever. BIM generates 3D models of the entire structure of a building, including services like plumbing and electricity, before a single nail is hammered. This allows designers, contractors, builders, suppliers and others involved to have not only a three-dimensional virtual representation of the project, but also an abundance of additional intelligence incorporated in the total BIM package. A BIM model is rich in data that facilitates the project from design through construction, then into the occupancy and maintenance phase, and even far into the future if/when renovations are performed.
The result of combining BIM and general construction streamlines the construction process, increases project efficiency and reduces costs. A structure can be virtually built and the viability of all construction components pre-tested. Errors in design or construction hindrances can be discovered in the virtual version and corrected, eliminating expensive and time-consuming reworks in the physical world. Materials and supplies can also be more accurately estimated in advance, reducing shortages or wasteful surplus of materials.
Because the BIM software can be shared among all involved in the project, collaboration and teamwork is enhanced and information is easily distributed. Working as a team, all parties can pool expertise and resources to identify and solve problems as they appear in the BIM virtual model.
While BIM capacity has actually been available for decades, the BIM and general construction alliance is a relatively recent development. Costs of the technology to access the models and the expertise required to utilize it have both declined. This is evident in the increased acceptance and adoption of BIM by general contractors. One study found that 82 percent of contractors utilized BIM to coordinate projects. Contractors interviewed indicated that projects involving BIM would increase by 50 percent over the coming two years.
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