With an anticipated 450 beds when it opens in 2016, a number that will increase to 738 by 2021, the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital development represents Australia’s first new (not replacement) hospital construction project in more than 20 years.

The new hospital also serves as an interesting case study regarding the benefits of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and close collaboration in the early stages of the project.

In early 2013, our 5D quantity surveyor (5DQS) team was engaged by Lend Lease to advise on the benefits BIM could provide to the procurement and construction of the project, and we worked alongside their cost planning and procurement team for an initial period of four weeks, during which time we performed model validation, mapping, and revisioning on Stage One.

This included measuring more than 60,000 cubic metres of concrete, 800 tonnes of post tensioning, 4,500 tonnes of steel reinforcement and 200,000 square metres of formwork for a 150,000 square metre hospital and a 95,000 square metre car park.

During this period, the hospital’s 3D models were continually revised by the designers. Technology that interfaces with 3D models was able to accurately calculate quantities and create dynamic links between Revit® and IFC model information, rate libraries and estimate/trade bill of quantity templates, whilst the dynamic links meant the quantities and estimates were able to be calculated and recalculated every time the model information was revised.

By working with incomplete models throughout the design phase, the reliance on models increased and our 5DQS team members were able to be confident of the completeness and correctness of each model as the design developed. For designers, this meant there were no bad models and we could continually improve the BIM. For clients and project partners, it meant greater efficiency and reliability within the contract documents.

This approach delivered significant advantages. It allowed Lend Lease to tender on the latest documents still being worked on while Bills of Quantities were being prepared. By creating reliable links between the Bills of Quantities and the model, tenderers were able to quickly understand the scope of a trade package, de-risking the package and allowing for more competitive pricing.

The effectiveness of applying a 5D methodology meant the team was able to revision within days and sometimes hours to produce updated visualised documentation which clearly identified the changes within the 3D model and quickly include them in the contract.

For subcontractors, being provided with a free CostX® viewer containing the most recent Bill of Quantities and 3D model enabled them to view each trade package quantity, where it is located in the model and how the quantity is measured, reducing their reliance upon 2D paper drawings and allowing them to better understand tender requirements, easily visualise their components of the project and quickly respond to any revisioning.

Advances in technology bring with them the need to adapt practices and approaches. This project demonstrates that collaboration and application of BIM methodology at the outset delivers better coordination of documents, improved reliability and more valuable information.

This, in turn, means time and cost savings, access to real time information in decision making and indirect benefits arising out of more knowledge, easier identification of clashes in the design phase and a greater ability to provide certainty to contractors and subcontractors.