BIM Helps Find Feasibility of Construction

April 27, 2010

The BIM (building information modeling) process can be used for a number of different tasks: scheduling, estimating, design, and even project collaboration. But one of the most valuable uses of BIM may occur before a project even begins—to predict the success and feasibility of a project.

The General Services Admin. (GSA),, Washington, D.C., implemented its National 3D-4D BIM program in 2003. The Public Buildings Services has more than 70 capital projects using BIM technologies in support of GSA business needs, and the GSA continues to use BIM, even in the earliest phases of a project.

Recently, Beck Technology,, Dallas, Texas, announced it has been awarded a task order for a building information modeling contract with the GSA. This means Beck will help conduct a feasibility study for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),, Washington, D.C.

The study will focus on providing the GSA with information evaluating the viability of a potential renovation or modernization project. Beck Technology, along with HOK Architects,, San Francisco, Calif., and Purdy McGuire Mechanical & Electrical Engineers,, Dallas, Texas, will prepare a feasibility study and macro analysis of requirements through analytical evaluation.

The evaluation will look at existing building information, client needs and assessments, and possible alternatives. Beck will use its DProfiler software, along with other BIM software, to conduct the study, capturing pricing, proforma analysis, energy analysis, and visualization of the project.

This will help the team look at the feasibility of the renovation prior to the start of the project. This in-depth analysis helps construction teams identify the viability of the project prior to construction, in many cases helping save money and reduce conflicts.

The BIM process isn’t just for general contractors, engineers, and architects; specialty contractors have been embracing this process more often recently. And, as specialty contractors begin to grab a hold of BIM, more tools are coming to the forefront to help this segment of the market.

Autodesk,, San Rafael, Calif., released AutoCAD Freestyle software for specialty contractors. Specialty contractors such as plumbers, electricians, and carpenters can create plans and construction documentation with the software. The program is also intended for non-CAD employees to enable markup and annotation of designs created in the AutoCAD software. The Freestyle software is built on the AutoCAD platform.

One electrical contractor says the product is useful for project layouts, markups of existing drawings, and revisions, improving productivity and workflow.

BIM is making its way into many different segments of the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry, and news items such as these prove it can have an impact on many different processes—from conception to completion.