Construction Monkey

Construction Monkey Blog

Improve Estimates With Productivity Data From the Field

Building Information Modeling (or BIM) is all the rage in today's commercial and industrial construction markets.  I am unaware of many large General Contractors that haven't invested a lot of money into developing a BIM department or sometimes called Virtual Construction.  Even though they have invested money in technology and people, they rely heavily on us Specialty Subcontractors to provide the actual information for the model.

So what exactly is BIM?  It is traditionally a 3D model of the major building systems (structural, walls, floors, duct work, equipment, and piping).  This model is done by each of the respective trades utilizing the same central basis point in space (i.e. the same x, y, z axis point) and then all of the models are put together into a master model.  Additional software can then be run to find the collisions in the model.  If done right it even finds "virtual" collisions like code required access or light fixtures that hang in the area where fire suppression water will spray.

These models are invaluable in today's construction as they allow for Specialty Contractors to build it prior to putting any labor on the project and can find tight spaces or design flaws before the schedule is impacted.  But isn't that a lot of cost to find a few collisions that could be solved with good craftsmen?  I personally believe that to be true, but that doesn't take into account the other benefits.  Since it is a tagged model, the options are endless as to how we want to tag the model and as the model gets tagged in more complex ways, computer systems can then process this data.  For example there are 4D (3D+time) and 4D (3D+time+cost) models where each of the assemblies are put in with schedule and cost information.  I would not stop there.  What about putting in each item as it would appear as an assembly in our estimate?  At that point, you could get a full bill of material for a specific area and let the computer do the ordering for you since you have built it virtually it can save you time in the field.  It can also be very easy to see assemblies that are repeated over and over again which will allow you to do prefabrication.

BIM and the systems that go along with them will be the major change to commercial and industrial construction over the next 100 years and whoever figures out how to not only master it, but change it from a simple 3D model to something that transformers their business will profit the most.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through