Debunking the 10 most common BIM myths

BIM myths

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With the whole disruption in the construction sector that is currently revolutionising how collaboration works in the industry the past decade, a lot of disinformation has been spread about building information modelling (BIM). A few of these myths have been keeping people hesitant in implementing BIM in their systems. In this article, we will discuss the top ten BIM misconceptions and the truth behind them.

BIM is just 3D modeling

There is more to BIM than just drawing in three dimensions. Although 3D is the most prominent component of BIM, 3D is just a small part of a complicated process. The “modeling” in building information modelling is not limited to just a visual representation of a building model but is rather a part of a digital dataset and database that is centred on collaborative work.

The graphical data works with non-graphical information that is all contained in a shared digital space called the Common Data Environment (CDE) where both graphical and non-graphical data are used to generate data-rich models.

BIM is a powerful tool for managing data and information all throughout the life of a facility or a building that involves processes, technologies, and people. To say that it is just 3D modelling, is uneducated reductionism.

BIM has no long-term positive impact on productivity

A lot of anti-BIM advocates claim that BIM takes more time and has little impact on productivity. Obviously, like with any new process and system, BIM takes time to scope and implement. However, after careful planning and consideration and investing proper time and resources, the initial investment outweighs the benefits in productivity in the long run.

It takes a bit of time to get used to the BIM approach in front-loading information and assets into project planning and resourcing — think series of training and resource studying in integrating BIM as compared to traditional methods. But like any other technology that has been introduced (pen to mouse to CAD), people and systems eventually will get used to BIM, and once it becomes manageable, productivity follows.

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BIM is expensive

Evidently, there will be upfront costs as company shifts to a new system from a traditional one. These costs, however, should always be measured against their long-term benefits. BIM is certainly not expensive. Before any project, it can easily be decided which aspects of BIM will be implemented and from which BIM tools can be chosen (which can be free or inexpensive if planned carefully). All these things considered and customised, spending and time budgets can then be achieved.

BIM is only for “big” projects

In most examples of BIM implementations, it’s always the big companies that are always focused on. This does not, however, mean that BIM is just for big projects. Case studies of large firms are just readily available because they have carefully planned and implemented BIM to explore the benefits they get from it. Logically, if large enterprises and projects benefit from BIM, it follows that smaller companies potentially have more to gain from BIM’s efficiencies. Organisations, big or small, bring upon similar financial costs but on different scales in delivering projects. BIM is not restricted to large and public sector projects. Even small projects benefit from BIM implementation.

BIM is just a construction trend

BIM is far from being a fad or a trend. The key concepts of the evolution of BIM explain that BIM is a long time coming and has more to offer to the construction sector as it evolves along with technology. As we are slowly seeing, BIM is becoming the “business as usual” system in the building industry. Those who adapt to it will surely gain most from it.

BIM only benefits the designers and contractors

As mentioned earlier, BIM generates a data-rich model platform. Hence, it helps all participants and stakeholders of a project. Project owners and contractors can accurately communicate what they want to designers and clients by coordinating all data and information in the BIM. By having consistent, structured, and digital data, overall operational data is available for everyone to see from initial costs to post-occupational decisions.

BIM is just a software

BIM is more of a mentality or a process rather than “just a software”. To fully utilise BIM, processes are re-engineered to include people, methods and technology properly in a collaborative digital paradigm. With BIM implementation, the shift is not just with the cost in software or the effort in manipulating datasets but the massive change in management and operational approach.

BIM solves clashes

In Level 2 BIM, contributors upload files to the Common Data Environment at specific points in a project. These files propel the production of a federated model which allows the easy detection of clashes as the work of various teams intersect at strategic phases. BIM tools and software allow designers and contractors to easily spot clashes in their models and combined ones. BIM does not solve clashes but rather allow team members to easily spot and rectify the clashes. BIM tools help resolve problems early and are no substitute for common sense.

Clients are clueless with regards to BIM data

It was once believed that clients ask their projects to be BIM projects without fully understanding what this means. It may have been true at one point, but initiatives like BSRIA/UBT Soft Landings Framework have been helping and educating clients and facilities management teams to understand the benefits of using BIM in practice. Apparently, engaging project owners and facilities management teams early help manage expectations and produce better results across the lifecycles of projects.

Geometry requirements are very hard

It’s commonly perceived that BIM geometry requirements are very burdensome. It only is when every element of a project is modelled. Remember that BIM implies a product instead of manufacturing it, so the level of detail in modelling does not have to be into the minuscule. Once an appropriate level of detail has been determined, there is no need to model every single component in a plan. Level of information will increase at certain points of a project (when implied objects become actual, for example) but this does not mean that lots of time should be wasted in unimportant components.

If you are in the middle of deciding whether to adopt the BIM workflow or not, this article should be a great resource in helping you discern who or what to believe when it comes to building information modelling. This piece is part of a series covering BIM. Supplement this with articles discussing what BIM is and its benefits to the construction industry, its history, the different roles in a BIM project cycle, its potentials and challenges, and its future role in construction. Once you’re done going through all these articles, supplement your knowledge and download a free ebook on increasing overall productivity on the construction site

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