A Blend of BIM

September 10, 2009

Despite all its hype, BIM (building information modeling) is not fully entrenched into the construction industry. This is particularly true with residential construction. While the number of builders experimenting with construction technology associated with BIM or running proof of concepts might be high, the percentage of builders that are using it fully for day-to-day production requirements remains relatively low.

Industry observers point to a number of factors playing a role, most notably market conditions. For example, some builders that may have been set to test various BIM-related programs earlier in the year had to divert such efforts once a reduction in staff simply limited the manpower they were able to allocate to these initiatives.

Another factor that may be holding some builders back is the belief that a shift to BIM means they must abandon all of the legacy data associated with 2D plan sets. For many builders, this 2D investment is substantial, and not necessarily a cost they would like to just eat--especially not in current market conditions.

However, that belief isn't necessarily accurate. In fact, technology is available that can help builders dabble into the BIM world while leveraging legacy data.

Great Gulf Homes, www.greatgulfhomes.com, Toronto, Ont., is an example. For years, this builder, a recent recipient of a Constructech Vision Award, found great success in using 2D AutoCAD, but found the method was rapidly aging in the face of new innovation. Great Gulf Homes has a separate division, Homecad, which works to create consistency and accuracy of working drawings for the builder.

As the use of BIM began to surface, it saw a challenge and sought out a suitable BIM package that was flexible, consistent, and able to grow with the new demands. There was an additional requirement of needing the file format to be compatible with the products used by downstream consultants such as structural and mechanical engineers. The company also acknowledged the need to have the new solution require maximum adaptability to the current user’s training and software with minimum downtime.

As Homecad moved to the BIM environment, the need to strike a balance between 3D intelligence and 2D construction documents without sacrificing existing investment in the 2D environment was evident. The company turned to products and services from Ameri-CAD, www.visionrez.com, Allen, Texas, particularly its BIM solution, VisionREZ.

By combining Homecad and VisionREZ, the company notes that designs have become better and construction documents more accurate. Great Gulf Homes is now able to get drawings into the field faster, has better accuracy, and has established more efficient management of resources.

Without a doubt, the time and cost commitments associated with BIM can play a disparaging role in builders' willingness to make the transition. But in some cases, a blend of BIM with some products and processes already in place might just be the answer.