by Norman F. Jacobs, Jr., CSI Emeritus, PMI, SAR, ASPE, CPE, AACE, IIE
Building information modeling (BIM) is a dynamic tool to assist all contract parties in better coordinating each and every phase of construction. The industry is fragmented when it comes to proper communications. The project manager needs to critique the ‘enigma’ of asymmetric information.
Productivity is at a low and needs to be improved. Fragmentation has a cost—it traps the industry in conservative practices, limiting the spread of any new learning. These divisions also directly increase the risk of miscommunication or failure to coordinate between the multiple players working on a building site. In turn, this increases the owner’s risk of additional costs and delays.
A portion of money spent on construction labor is wasted because of late deliveries, poorly coordinated subcontractors, updated critical path method (CPM) schedules, and other circumstances preventing employees from engaging in productive, onsite work. A complete examination of BIM can help solve these problems.
BIM is the process of using three-dimensional (3D) modeling technology for creating, communicating, and reviewing building information. The next step in the evolution of the design and construction process, it offers a better way of delivering projects in a collaborative and less fragmented fashion that blurs the line between design and construction. BIM also holds the potential for immediate quantity survey, identification of conflicts and omissions, and fewer change orders, project delays, and cost overruns, as well as more clearly defined and shared accountability, risk, and reward.
Using BIM requires an in-depth critique of all construction documents. The industry is now fully moving into an environment where significant projects are built with BIM technology and/or managed with integrated project delivery mechanisms. Sophisticated owners are demanding both, yet few understand exactly what they are demanding.
As the industry steps through the learning process, it is imperative owners and industry professionals look carefully at associated legal and risk issues. BIM’s dramatic shift in how information is gathered and shared, and the principles of collaboration and interoperability on which it is based, meld the traditionally distinct separation of roles among stakeholders in construction projects. BIM contract documents take on an ever-more-important role.
American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Associated General Contractors (AGC) are working on addendums to their standard contract documents. This will provide a tool to utilize BIM from start to finish, thereby allowing users to more closely integrate project delivery with owners and design professionals. It is also flexible enough to be used as an addendum in more traditional contracting methods. Technology improvements and integration fostered by the expanded use of BIM are dramatically increasing efficiency in the industry.
It is important for all project managers to review and critique all BIM software. Each and every contract party should understand all factors influencing the use of BIM, which offers benefits including:
- less time spent drafting and more time designing;
- owners demanding BIM in their projects;
- parametric modifications to design;
- opportunities to reduce construction cost, risk, and insurance claims; and
- improved interoperability, document version control, scheduling, budgeting, and cost estimates.
Norman F. Jacobs, Jr., CSI Emeritus, PMI, SAR, ASPE, CPE, AACE, IIE, formed Jacobs Consultant Services in 1981 to provide a variety of construction services including cost management, schedule control assistance, project management, and claims preparation and negotiation. Prior to this, Jacobs provided design-build, construction management, and general contracting services for more than 30 years, in a variety of capacities ranging from estimator to president and board member. He has chaired Virginia’s Associated General Contractors (AGC) Documents Committee, has presented seminars on construction legal subjects with the Virginia Bar Legal Committee, and is a past-president of the CSI Richmond Chapter. Jacobs can be reached via e-mail at JCSCPM@aol.com.