Existing BIM Content Can Deliver Savings 1

Friday, April 11th, 2014
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Leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) software packages such as Autodesk Revit, Bentley Microstation, Graphisoft ArchiCAD and Nemetschek Vectorworks provide libraries of free generic BIM content in their respective BIM file formats.

However, the building product content of BIM software companies (which includes double hung windows, sliding doors, toilets, ceiling lights, sink cabinets and outlets) is generic in appearance, lacks embedded property data and/or provides only a few generic dimensional sizes for each component.

Designers depend on their BIM software to auto-create detailed interior elevations, building elevations, building sections, enlarged plans, isometric and perspective views and photorealistic rendered views, while the software also produces door, window, equipment and casework schedules from the floor plans.

Without great Building Product Manufacturers (BPM) BIM content, designs produced by the BIM software for its designers is greatly limited in its ability to create accurate construction documents.

CrossWay Church, Germantown WI

CrossWay Church, Germantown WI – Revit image courtesy of Excel Engineering Inc.

Designers, constructors and owners that use a BIM process typically have three options for incorporating BPM BIM content into their facility projects:

  1. Seek out Building Product Manufacturers (BPM) that have created BIM content of their products. Content is usually hosted and shared on the BPM’s website and/or a hosted BPM BIM library. Websites that host/syndicate BPM BIM libraries include  seek.autodesk.com, arcat.com, modlar.com (formerly BIMSTOP.com), nationalbimlibrary.com (UK), BIMObject.com, ofcdesk.com, bimcomponents.com, rev-equip.com.
  2. Find BPM BIM content created by fellow BIM software users (architects, engineers, contractors). Sometimes, software users will share their BPM models on user forum websites that they created for their projects.
  3. Create BPM models from scratch, using their firm’s labour, time and BIM/graphic standards designed for their organization’s projects.

Over the last six or seven years, designers, constructors and owners have come to expect that BPM BIM content will be available on the manufacturers’ websites. This process conveniently offers a BIM manager the ability to download or edit BPM BIM product models to meet their standards. Additionally, the BPM’s website provides the manager with specifications, warranty and installation documentation, tech data sheets, product images and videos, and contact information.

Corporate Athletic \ Shower Room

Corporate athletic/shower room – Revit image courtesy of Bradley Corporation

Cost for Quality – BPM BIM Content

Creating BPM BIM content has measurable costs for everyone. Depending on the model’s Level of Development (LOD), model functionality and the time to run quality assurance on each model, it can cost an average of $US150 to $US250 to create a BPM model.

The typical Revit modeling process requires time to retrieve BPM product tech data sheets, top-front-right side-view dimensional drawings or CAD files, material images and specifications. Labour modeling costs leverage pre-built templates, BPM drawings or CAD files while adding solids/voids, reference planes, dimensions and labels, masking regions and symbolic lines, materials, MEP connections and clearance boxes for collision detection.

Next, the BIM manager sets the visibility settings for every view for every 2D/3D component. BPM tech data is added to the model parameters. Finally, the BPM Revit model is run through an exhaustive set of tests and edits using the Revit project views – plans, elevations, sections, schedules – and the tagging and printing processes.

Corporate Athletic \ Locker Room

Corporate athletic/locker room – Revit rendering image courtesy of Bradley Corporation

Thus a BPM model cost of $US150 to $250 is conservative estimate. However, who picks up the cost for model features that are not required by each firm?

For example,

  • The architects typically don’t need MEP connections and parameters.
  • The engineers need fewer visual components, just MEP connections and parameter data.
  • The contractor and owner need everything for their fabrication, including as-built and FM models.

A multidisciplinary BPM model can be shared between all the disciplines and the owner, while including everything needed by everyone. This reduces some of the real project modeling costs for everyone. An article I wrote in February highlights additional savings from new cloud-based functionality for both BIM software and project BIM content.

Corporate Athletic \ Locker Room

Corporate athletic/locker room – Revit rendering image courtesy of Bradley Corporation

Return-On-Investment – BPM BIM Content Library

At our project kick-off meetings, we would begin the conversation on BPM BIM content procurement and creation. Inevitably, we would begin sharing our best BPM sources, realizing we would all save modeling time and labour costs.

Based on my national client visits, project teams continue to have the expectation that BPMs provide their products in a BIM format for their design projects.

Design firms also expect the “immediate placement” of specific BPM Revit models.

Lastly, the BPMs producing BIM content are trending towards the production of LOD – Level 400 or better BIM content. Logically, their BIM file sizes will be larger, but their single BIM file is serving the entire design, construction and management team.

A single, prebuilt multidisciplinary model allows the BPM to more easily manage and update their BIM library at LOD – 400-plus while delivering a consistent, well-coordinated model for all project discipline stakeholders.

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  1. Nathan Taffard

    I agree Dan that BPM content needs to grow to allow post-design uses of BIM to actualize. During design its not so straightforward though, as designers, (depending on discipline of course) have quite differing opinions on when BPM content should be introduced to a BIM project. Most "BPM" decisions are made post design phase in a traditional project delivery, so this subject requires IPD consideration also.
    BPM content can be hit & miss too. Some do it well others you may as well have started from scratch. Some disciplines do not require this at all. i.e. structures and so BPM can be ignored by them unless you're dealing with proprietary content which is fairly limited typically.