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Friday, September 4, 2009

Heaven forbid OR Thank heaven for bid. The truth about your first BIM Bid.

My company has started a BIM Services division for contractors and subcontractors.  As every GC is clamoring to be a "BIM Contractor", exactly what that means has been very muddied. I'm fascinated by all of the different definitions of what BIM is.
I got a call yesterday from an electrical contractor bidding on a project.  He had over 20 questions as to what he needed for software, training, clash detection software, who on his staff needed training. I answered all of his questions and asked him just one.
What was the contractor giving him?  Here are the choices:
JPG, TIFF, PDF, DWF, DXF, DWG, RVT
If it's a PDF, was it published from a design program or were they just scans of plans?
DWGs?  Were the drawings created in AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, Revit, that B software or the other wannabee BIM program Archicrap. Oh, they used AutoCAD Architecture?  Really? That's wonderful.  Did they use constructs and the sheet set manager?  Did they actually do the entire building in 3D or just the walls, doors and windows? 
If it's Revit, was it the architectural, structural, MEP model or a combination.  Were the ceilings in?  Were they the 100% CDs. 
That brings up a separate thought.  What exactly are 100% CDs if the plans always have things missing and clashes on the plans.  Is there a difference between 100/% CDs of AutoCAD and 100% CDs of Revit?  You Betcha.  Of course, if you're not using a Revit MEP and Revit Structure engineer, you're lying to yourself about 100% BIM CDs, but that's a whole other post.
So, I asked the electrical contractor all of the deliverable questions.  Part of me doesn't want to post this so GCs will have to come to me for services, but the other part of me is posting this so you'll know my team knows what they're doing and you'll want us to help you with your first BIM Construction project.
As a contractor, if you didn't provide the information to the bidders as to what you're giving the sub when you require them to bid or build a project in BIM, you've got a lot more serious problems than you think.
How the hell do you expect a subcontractor to bid on their first BIM project, when it's your first BIM project and no one knows what the hell BIM is?  Oh, just google it.  Maybe you'll find this blog and we'll give you the BIM for bidders checklist and implementation guide, for a small fee of course.
This is the problem on the construction side. Everyone wants to be a BIM Contractor, and no one knows what to do get there.  Not really any different than an architect thinking they can implement Revit on their own without any training.  I pity most of those firms who do that without any planning or help from a BIM Reseller. I'm officially going on record here that most Autodesk reseller technical teams haven't a clue what's involved in training and implementing Revit, not only for the architects, but heaven forbid your a GC or sub.  
My dad told me the other night to have humility, but I said "Dad, screw that, I'm in sales".  His point was well taken.  I will admit I don't know everything and hope my wife isn't reading this.  What I do know is that after 28 years of being a GC, working for a subcontractor for 2 years, doing everything from laborer, carpenter's apprentice, project engineer, project manager, bookkeeper, payroll administrator, job secretary, punch list, scheduling, purchasing manager, estimator, requisition administrator and having used one of those damned chipping hammers I wrote about yesterday, I'm overqualified to be an Autodesk reseller, but I'm working on being the best BIM reseller in the country.  Thank goodness for my degree in Construction Management.  I hated my classes on statics, concrete design, structural design, HVAC design, electrical design and plumbing design.  The formwork class was a pain, but guess what, I'm so glad I have all of that stuff floating in my brain now.  5 years of using Buzzsaw doesn't hurt either.  
I'm not bragging, I'm just offering our company's services to any contractor or subcontractor looking to move into BIM. 
It's funny to see the differences between an architect and a contractor deciding on purchasing Revit.  If the contractor can save one half of one percent, he's made himself a lot of money buying Revit and Navisworks.  The architect looks at is as another expense and having to pay for software, training and implementation is the end of the world.  Of course,with the production increases, automation and better coordinated drawings, his QA and QC and jobsite administration would go way down.
Do you know that some contractors spend as much as 80% of their time generating, processing and managing paperwork on construction projects?  They've become paper managers, not project managers.  The contractors are moving to BIM to reduce paperwork.  It's that simple.  
The architect hands a roll of paper to the contractor, known as Construction Documents.  The contractor hands a mountain of RFIs and delay letters to the architect, known as Documents Construction.  Then the architect is delayed responding to the RFIs and the contractor hands them more paperwork asking for extra time because the delayed RFI response delayed the project.
Architects, how exactly do you think you're going to survive with this archaic process when you say "we only work in 2D, we don't need 3D."  Do you have any idea how to run an efficient business?  Well, it involves technology and an investment in training in that technology.  
Ok, I'm annoyed now, so I'm stopping the post.  I'm just going to cold call a GC, offer them the chance to become a BIM Contractor and I bet you I'll have a new customer today.  Kids, the AEC industry is broken.  It's mired in paperwork, inefficiencies, errors, omissions, blame, lack of responsibility, lack of cooperation and refusal to share information...and we haven't even gotten to the part of LEED submittals and all of the documentation required for that.  Yeah, CAD will go over real well on a LEED Platinum project.  No wonder 25% of all LEED buildings don't meet the energy savings design.  You're all screwed.  Give me a call if you want to talk more about it and what the solutions are.  I need some coffee.

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