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Friday, October 16, 2009

The BIMuda Triangle [Contractors]

I had the honor Tuesday night of spending 3 hours in the office of a national general contractor.  My company was asked to create a Revit model of a portion of a tenant build out for a 4 story 128,000 foot space for a law firm.  The contractor was doing a presentation Wednesday morning and they wanted to include BIM for their proposal.

They asked us to work on a 6,000 sf area of the building.  We were asked to put in ceilings, ducts, lights and beams.  They had a feeling that there might be some potential conflicts.

The bottom off the steel beams were at 11'4".  The ducts had a 2" insulation wrap and the light cans were 6".  As you can see in the photo, there's just a slight conflicct with the duct running through the 9'0" ceiling.  Just a minor conflict.  We have a MEP engineer who does our construction modeling for us.  We had 2 days to do the project for them.  I had Frank do the ducts while I did the ceilings and light fixtures.  I added the beams while at the contractor's office Tuesday night.  There were 6 people there and some had never seen Revit and certainly nothing that showed clashes like this. It was fun bringing in the beam and arraying it every 10 feet and cranking out a rendering in 2 minutes. 

About the BIMuda triangle.  On every project we have three sides of the triangle labeled Cost, Time and Quality. Unfortunately, one of these three sides suffers when a project is rushed or fast tracked. Here is how it works:

·     Quality: If you want higher quality, then cost and time increases. 
·     Time: If you want a shorter time to build then cost goes up and
quality goes down. 

·     Cost (Money): If you want to save money then time increases and quality goes down.

Using BIM, costs and quality should remain constant and reduce or at least maintain time.

The law firm cares most about quality of finishes.  In order to have the highest quality of marbles, walls and cabinets, the trades need more time to build the walls and cabinets.  If the work we did on the model is any indication of the rest of the plans, they're in big trouble.

So what approach should a BIM contractor take in a presentation like this?  To me it's so simple.  The contractor would offer to model all of the MEP and architectural work and find all of the clashes.  Then, since they'd have exact dimensions, the millwork company could build their cabinets sooner because they wouldn't need to do field dimensions.  The ductwork would be prefabricated as they'd know exactly where the pipes, lights and fire sprinklers were located.  On a preconstructed BIM project, all of the above would speed up construction and there would be more time for higher quality.

It seems so simple for the contractors to embrace BIM and win more work.  What's sad about this particular project was that the architect actually did their work in Revit.  I don't know if the MEP did their work in Revit and they certainly didn't do a clash detection between the ceilings and the ducts.  What's even worse was even though the contractor asked for the Revit model, all they got were dwg exports from Revit.  We had to recreate the Revit model from scratch.  It was just selfish of the architect to do that and cause the contractor to have to double their work.  The ductwork is going to have to be redesigned so it will fit in the ceiling.

Of course the contractor bought Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Navisworks Manage.  We'll start training their staff in a few weeks and they want to become a design builder so they don't have to deal with these issues in the future.  I can't imagine why the architect wouldn't do everything they could to make it easier for the contractor especially since it's for a law firm.  That's a lawsuit just waiting to be filed.  I got a new BIM contractor client and CADD Centers takes another giant leap into the future.


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