BIM for Clients: part 1…

Construction, Design, Uncategorized

As those of you with a keen eye on industry movements will have seen, BIM has come to the fore of the industry over the last 5 years since the Government’s mandate to deliver all centrally procured construction projects to BIM Level 2 from 1st April 2016.

Well that date has come and gone, and with the recent transition into 2017, the general consensus from media forums and personal participation in industry events indicates a better appreciation of the benefits of BIM from the construction industry as a whole since the government drive towards BIM was announced. However there still seems to be some uncertainty and a lack of interest from residential client developers to capture the significant benefits that BIM adoption has to offer their businesses. This blogpost is part 1 of 2 which focuses on some of the barriers to Client-side BIM adoption.

Having worked in both architectural practices and for one of the South East’s leading residential developers since the turn of the decade, I’ve been able to witness the growth in awareness of BIM utilisation on the consultant side and draw attention to the need for its adoption within the client design management team processes.

My personal experiences seem to suggest a number of key barriers to BIM adoption exist within residential developer organisations:

1 – The perceived enormous costs & time associated with implementation. Like any investment, you need to put something in to get something out, but this need not be an expensive process. The upfront capital investment required to implement procedures and processes, as well as the acquisition of soft&hardware can be challenging for SMEs especially. However, what needs to be demonstrated to SMEs more succinctly is the value added, and return on investment through BIM adoption, to make the case for it unquestionable.

2 – The belief that ”we’ve been designing & constructing buildings for many years without BIM, so why change now”. Yes, believe it or not, this is the view held by some industry representatives. These protagonists view BIM as a problem, as disruptive and in some cases a barrier to ‘just getting the work done’. Well personally, I couldn’t agree less. The BIM process is designed to be collaborative, deliver efficiencies, truly coordinated buildings / spaces and coordinated asset management information.

3 – A perception that BIM is a modelling tool only for consultants and contractors. This perception probably comes from a misunderstanding generally within the industry that BIM is primarily useful for visualisation purposes, rather than appreciating what it really is; a process of collaborative project information management. Clients actually have a very important part to play in the uptake of BIM across the industry, as they almost always have the authority to set the project brief with BIM at its core, and are ultimately the ones paying for the service delivered by the process of project information management. Would it be fair to say that the more clients are willing to invest (not merely financially) in BIM, the more motivation their supply chain will have in delivering it? In some ways, yes, but equally can the supply chain play its part by looking inward and seeing what it can do to deliver more internal business efficiencies, coordinated design and construction services to the client through BIM adoption? It’d be good to have your thoughts…

4 – A lack of certainty from all participants to the process of BIM regarding their role in the process. To a degree this is still understandable, as the industry continues to acquire knowledge and insight from each project delivered through BIM.

BIM for Clients: Part 2 looks at the ingredients needed for client-side BIM uptake. Watch this space for it…

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