Everyone hates it when the time comes that you need to make a big decision regarding your firm and the way things are. Making changes can be scary sometimes, and this might be the time for such a change. Currently there is a lot of discussion about leaving behind the 2D CAD drafting and incorporating BIM design and following the uprising trend. So, is it time to make the transition to BIM ?
What is BIM?
But first things first… In case you are not sure what BIM is, BIM stands for Building Information Modeling. Basically it is a digital representation of all the physical and functional characteristics and parts of a building. By using BIM to model any project, gives you powerful features to visualize and analyze a building.
These are some of the features that you are not able to do with CAD but can with BIM :
solar impact & shadow studies
MEP and other clash co-ordination
…and many more
Let’s make things easier to understand. With any other CAD software, an architect draws 2D lines, adds text to describe a particular wall and creates a separate drawing detailing that wall. With BIM, you first need to create a library file for that wall and describe every part of the wall. Starting from one side of the wall a typical wall would consist of paint + plaster 25mm + 200mm clay tile with its specific dimensions, 50mm air gap with rockwool insulation and 200mm clay tile + plaster 25mm + paint. This system of wall is in total 300mm. After describing to the program your wall system and save it to your library, one can use it future projects and add it anywhere on the floor layout with dynamic height inputs. The BIM software, takes care of everything else.
From that point on, the program can provide energy efficiency calculations, sound insulation calculations, quantity surveying BOQs etc. With simple requests you can get the amount of bricks needed for the project to complete.
The most difficult part is to create and have and maintain your libraries. After that is just use and re-use.
Here is a video demo of BIM in action
Making the move !
Transition to another way of working, different from the one you are currently comfortable, can be scary and can take considerable time to learn. Sometimes expensive as well. Learning to use BIM can take up to 3 months of full time practice.
So, is it worth it? For sure, most of us who tried this have gone from ” Oh no… I should have stayed with what I know ” to “wow, what an amazing tool “. You should definitely expect delays working with BIM on your first projects.
It will take practice, practice, practice !
The most difficult part of using BIM ? Creating and having a large variety of libraries to use with your projects. These consist of your floors, walls, windows, doors, furniture, roofs etc. It will take a long time to create them and one can use with generic ones and keep building libraries and adding more templates as projects progress. Others, might want to hire the help of an expert to create those libraries for them or even buy them ready.
Is it worth it ?
Well, it is up to anyone to decide. One thing is for sure though. Once libraries are there and ready to be used, any project can significantly be made easier and work load reduced by 60% .
Templates with toggle parameters ( i.e. dynamic input variables, for example a door’s height, width, and wall thickness ) can be easily incorporated into any design just by entering those inputs only. The program takes care of the rest. All elevation views, cross sections and details are automatically created for that door.
To make things clearer how BIM works, let us assume one is working on a building with different dimensions windows on an elevation view but with all the same detailing and characteristics. Aluminium double sliding windows with the same glass properties and aluminium profile. All of these windows belong to the same opening template, with the same characteristics. All that differs are their dimensions. Now, assume for whatever the reason ( usually the client demands it ), you need to change those windows to something else. Instead of manually changing one by one and then all the separate details for those windows and then your openings catalogue, when using BIM all you need to do is go and change the template or assign those windows to a new template. Automatically all your elevation views, cross sections, details, opening catalogs are updated according to that change.
So, if the above example sounds familiar to you, I believe it is worth it…
Pros and Cons
long learning curve period
more productive / less time
not compatible with others
analyze & visualize
need for more powerful hardware
offer more -> get more
easier / higher level of customization
scheduling & costing
Of course final decision is up to anyone depending how open and risk taking you are. From the above, it is clear to us that if you have the ability to make such a jump, allow 2-3 months of training and willing to invest in your firm, then it is totally worth it. We admit it though that it is not an easy transition and you will not be up and running immediately.
Some good BIM software out there, at the time this article was written, are REVIT, GRAPHISOFT ArchiCAD, Nermetschek Allplan Architecture, Bentley Architecture and more… The internet is full of learning, step-by-step tutorials and tools on how to get started.
So, we say… Do it ! Why Not ?