When BIM Doesn’t Fit: Projects That May Not Benefit from Building Information Modeling

BY Jason Matthews | 7 mins read


Building Information Modeling (BIM) stands out as a revolutionary tool in construction and design. It boasts an array of benefits, from enhanced visualization to streamlined project management. Yet, as with any tool, BIM is not a one-size-fits-all solution. From design to execution, BIM has made project management more efficient, collaborative, and innovative. As companies consider employing BIM consultants, it’s crucial to understand where BIM shines and where it might not be the optimal choice. Here, we delve into the projects that might not fit BIM well and vice versa.

Understanding the Core of BIM

Before delving into the specifics, it’s essential to grasp BIM’s primary strengths. BIM isn’t merely a piece of software or a new tech gadget; it’s a comprehensive approach that integrates different project stages, allowing teams to visualize, coordinate, and optimize project design and execution.

While BIM is undoubtedly transformative, not every project will benefit equally from its application. Here are some scenarios where BIM might not be the best fit:

Small-Scale Projects

BIM’s real power lies in managing complexities. For small-scale projects with straightforward designs and limited stakeholders, the extensive setup and training for BIM might outweigh its advantages. When considering hiring a BIM consultant, having a 5- or 10-minute discussion with them will be more beneficial as it will save you the time of trying to figure it out on your own and instead leverage the knowledge of someone who works within the BIM area of the construction industry.

Short-duration Projects

If a project is short-term and doesn’t require significant coordination, setting up BIM might not offer any tangible returns in the project’s lifecycle. Implementing BIM in a project requires a substantial initial set-up time. Creating a detailed BIM model, integrating data, and coordinating the various trades consumes time. For projects of a short duration, these initial efforts may not be justified given the time constraints, which significantly reduce the chances of a positive ROI. The longer the project, typically the more cost-effective BIM is.

Projects with Limited Technological Infrastructure

Implementing BIM can pose significant challenges for companies operating in regions with limited technological infrastructure or where stakeholders aren’t tech-savvy. However, a BIM team should be able to navigate these issues by having an open dialogue with the trade contractors and providing explicit information to the project managers and field team regarding their involvement and how to utilize the information they are provided. Depending on the stakeholders, this could sink the BIM effort on the project, and the owner will throw their money away.

Renovation Projects with Limited Documentation

While BIM can be advantageous in renovations if the existing structure has limited or no documentation, creating a BIM model can be time-consuming and might not offer enough benefits. The solution is to explore as much as possible by scanning the existing building once the demolition is complete. The scan (point cloud) will give the project team much information that will be instrumental in the BIM process. The point cloud is highly recommended to be converted to 3D geometry for easier viewing and referencing. This cost of scanning and conversion is usually not initially considered in the budget and could potentially impact the BIM ROI.

Selecting the Right Project for BIM

For companies seeking to hire a BIM consultant, assessing whether their project aligns with BIM’s strengths is paramount. It’s not about BIM’s capabilities but aligning those capabilities with project demands. Projects that involve multifaceted designs, multiple stakeholders, and require coordination between different teams will benefit immensely from BIM. BIM offers an integrated approach for projects with longer lifecycles (greater than six months), ensuring that every stage, from design to execution and maintenance, is coordinated and optimized. If a project requires innovative solutions, leveraging BIM can facilitate simulations, tests, and more, allowing teams to innovate confidently.

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