But the "fun stuff" can sometimes be boring - I'm trying to determine the best practical way to communicate with external modeling consultants. We already have WebEx, so we will use that for the web conference portion. That leaves voice communication.
We can't use our current voice provider because some of our consultants are international, so it is too costly for them to call the US for an hour each day. So now, we're thinking Skype. Except, Skype doesn't offer internal recording. And we need audio (and visual recording) for record keeping.
My plan is this: use WebEx for visual and Skype for audio. However, in the record options in WebEx, select to record computer audio. In theory, that will record the Skype audio...I think.
Might not be the most exciting BIM topic, but it is one that needs to be addressed. I'll let you know how it works.
At the meeting, the attending members decided that process was an issue afflicting both the members of the BIMForum and other unrepresented users. Architects can't model for construction because they don't know what contractors need, and contractors can't rely on architects because they don't have defined expectations.
Ultimately, NIBS or a similar organization will define model standards and process. However, 'cutting-edge' users shouldn't have to suffer until they do. Therefore, the BIMForum is going to draft some practical standards.
To come up with these standards, the committee members (specifically members of the designer's subforum and the builder's forum) are going to use reverse engineering:
- Create a list of deliverables
- Describe traditional method to achieve deliverables
- List model objects required for the deliverables
- Come up with an "LOD" for each deliverable
The BIMForum hopes to post a draft of the BIM Standards within the next month. Wish them luck!
What is your experience with BIM? Over the past 6 months, what has disappointed you the most and what has excited you the most? What are your plans for the next 6 months?There were a range of answers, but here is one from Joe Stella (of PJ Stella Construction Corporation). Joe said:
I am a small general contractor; I haven't done much with BIM. However, over the past 6 months, I've been listening to all of the activity that is going on. I've been 'drinking the Kool-Aid', and I'm ready to dive in.Ken Stowe (of Autodesk) followed him by saying:
I like to think of myself as the mixer of the drink you've been having, but it's not Kool-Aid. It's Gatorade because it will give you the 'stuff' you need to get the job done. Although I work for a software company, I try to deliver the truth to all of the contractors and designers I speak to. I'm optimistic; I try to demystify BIM.
However, software is important (if not imperative) to the BIM process.
At the BIMForum meeting last week, there was a fair amount of talk about software. Although there were software vendors who made presentations, some of the best software chat happened between users.
After toying with the idea of testing beta versions (which we decided was too risky, considering some of the issues that come up when using fully released versions), we got practical. Software vendors need to know what we want and need. (For instance, although we all appreciate Revit's powerful spellcheck tool, it wasn't #1 (or #2, 3, 4....) on the priority list.)
Who better to tell Autodesk, Bentley Systems and Graphisoft what users need than the BIMForum? The BIMForum is comprised of users from all disciplines, who use the tools for a variety of tasks.
The idea that came out of these discussions is this: BIMForum needs to (and will) have a channel directly to the software vendors. Ken Stowe (of Autodesk) and Lew Reed (of Bentley Systems) attended most of the meetings (several Graphisoft representatives were also invited) and agreed to help us set up such a thing. They also agreed to set up a non-disclosure meeting with some members of BIMForum, with the hope that it will further shape the direction of the software.
Most importantly, users need to use the BIMForum to express their needs. Although the chairmen make up a diverse group of users, they do not represent every BIM software user out there. So share your issues on the Software Subforum - big and small. We might finally be able to solve them.
The purpose of the pre-meeting was to review the agenda with the subforum leaders and some of the subforum members.
As we started to go over the agenda, we got a little off topic: first discussing issues with software interoperability and functionality, then process. Most of us (if not all of us) are 'high level' BIM users, so we were mostly talking about 'post-wall' issues (referring to Mike Kenig's slide "The Wall").
Someone (and I'm sorry I cannot give credit where it is due - I don't remember who said this) mentioned a meeting he had recently attended, where another attendee (a non-BIM user who was clearly intrigued with BIM) half-jokingly asked the question: "Where can I get myself a 'bag of BIM'?"
We all laughed about the phrasing of the question, but it stayed in our discussions for some time. There is no one-stop shop for BIM; as other 'high level' users know, you need tangibles and intangibles alike.
Even after you have made it over "the wall", after you believe in BIM, you still have to make it happen (which is why I have always somewhat disagreed with Mike's slide). After you climb the wall, you still need to hit the bank, pick out software, trek up the learning curve and jump the hurdles of process.
To the person who asked for the 'bag of BIM, I apologize: there is no such thing. BIM is not as easy as buying a bundled software package.
Over the next week or so, I will share (almost) everything that I learned at this meeting, withprobably more detail than anyone wants to hear. But while I'm still here, I want to communicate some of the topics that the BIMForum has discussed here. We have talked about a lot of exciting ideas that will help fulfill our mission statement; there is going to be a lot of activity over the next 6 - 12 months (and probably even further in the future).
Some of those topics are:
- Case studies in fabrication, collaboration and clash detection from GE Johnson, Sundt and Findorff.
- Recommendations for tools within existing software programs.
- Past BIM successes and disappointments of all attendees
- Presentations from Autodesk and Bentley on their current solutions and where the software is going
- Future software training sessions
- Future non-disclosure software meetings
- The idea of "the model",
- BIM curriculum development, and most importantly
- the BIM Process (who should model what..and when)
I asked him what he wanted to use it for.
He wasn't exactly sure: maybe quantities.
My initial instinct was to say no! The model was incomplete and inaccurate; it would make me nervous to share a model that I wouldn't want to use internally. Which makes me just like an architect, scared of the liability specter.
So, I will share the model with him with a verbal disclaimer. I will facilitate BIM in the industry. I will be excited that a subcontractor asked for a model. I will not be like them. Interesting that this happened to me the day after I was refused a model from an engineer.
So on Thursday, when I was asked to contact an engineer about obtaining a structural model (in this case, a Risa file), I didn't think twice about it. I was excited - less modeling for me to do!
After playing a few days of phone tag with the structural engineer, I finally talked to him this afternoon. I started by explaining what Tocci is doing with BIM, making sure to stress the point that we were finally catching up with them (because structural analysis has been done with 3-models for quite some time now). I told him that I noticed references to a 3-D analytical model of an existing building that we are renovating in a report that he had written. Then, I asked for the model.
His response: why?
I explained to him (again) what we might do with it: clash detection, scheduling, etc.
His response: a long and uncomfortable silence.
I wait for him to break the silence. He didn't. So I said, "Do you have a nondisclosure and file exchange policy form that I could sign? I understand that some firms might be uncomfortable sharing files. Do you have any questions that I could answer? Maybe that would clarify some things."
His response: Yes, I'm very uncomfortable with all this. We'll have to work something out.
That was that. And I almost forgot about my past experiences with designers.
QA/QC (or quality assurance/quality control) is a process that we do to ensure that our models are accurate. QA/QC is tedious. QA/QC is boring. QA/QC is time-consuming. However, QA/QC is a necessity.
Although we QA/QC internally created models, most of my QA/QC time is spent on externally-created models. Either way, the process is the same. I compare the 2D documents and the 3D model, which doesn't sound too bad. Except that I have to review every dimension, object type (wall, door, pipe, etc.) and detail to ensure 100% accuracy.
Then, I issue a QA/QC report to the modeler, which includes a written description of the items and generally, a visual of the problem area. The modeler review the report and fix the mistakes. Then, I have to check all of the problematic items to make sure that the mistakes were actually fixed. We go back and forth until it is perfect.
A very necessary evil.
Why not using Constructor then? :D. I use it over Archicad/Revit/ADT and I'm really very happy.Although, I agree that Constructor is much further along than Revit (with regard to BIM applications), we aren't using it at Tocci for several reasons. Primarily, we didn't want to abandon Timberline, which we use for both cost engineering and accounting. Additionally, the new BIM staff (myself included) already knew how to use Revit (for both modeling and contractor-specific BIM applications), so Tocci avoided training costs.
Personally, I believe that Revit is going to become the BIM standard in the future. AutoCAD is the 2D drafting standard; I think that Revit is a natural progression from there. Architects are slowly switching over to Revit; having Revit makes it easier to work with them.
Constructor users, you will have to continue to listen to me complain about Revit. Although I have complaints about specific features (and those complaints are very real!), overall, I absolutely love working it Revit. I'm not switching!
-Is BIM easier to use than CAD?
No. It is much harder, requiring good 3d perception, superior organization, deeper construction and design knowledge.
But is CAD really easier than BIM? I've extensively used both CAD (in the form of AutoCAD) and BIM (via Revit), so I consider myself qualified to attack this question.
First of all, I don't think that BIM requires good 3-D perception. A 3-D object-oriented software program allows the user to view a wall (or door or high rise apartment building) in 3-D (from any angle) or 2-D (any section, any elevation) immediately after placing it in 2-D.
Utilizing CAD, if I want another view of that wall after I draft it in 2-D, I have to draft that view. It seems like CAD requires more 3D perception than BIM.
I'm not exactly sure what Miguel means by "superior organization", but I'm just going to make a few assumptions and dispute the point. In BIM, the design is contained 1 file (where as CAD needs hundreds of files - usually 1 per 2-D document). In BIM, the documents are created directly from the 3D design, so they are already coordinated to a certain extent. Parametric change technology populates design changes to every 2-D document and view (2-D and 3-D alike). In CAD, design changes aren't included in the documents quite so automatically. From this, it seems that BIM is inherently more organized by the software, so doesn't require the user to have this sense of "superior organization".
To a certain extent, I suppose that BIM does require a greater knowledge of design and construction concepts and practices. In BIM, the user is actually building the building in 3D, rather than drafting it in 2D. I don't think that makes BIM more difficult, though. In fact, I found (working as a CAD drafter in an engineering firm) that I had a hard time creating 2D drawings and details of components that I didn't understand.
Lastly, I find that BIM software is much more intuitive than 2D CAD. Although I worked in CAD for about 4 years and became quite a proficient user, I am a much better, much more versatile and efficient Revit user after only 1 year.
Miguel, I look forward to seeing your qualms with this post - thank you in advance for your comments!
One of the pages that we are having is "BIM FAQ", which will provide information on BIM for non-BIMers. Here are some of the questions that will be featured on the page:
BIM for beginners - I've never heard of this thing before!
What is BIM?
A building information model (BIM) is an object-oriented building development tool that utilizes 5-D modeling concepts, information technology and software interoperability to design, construct and operate a building project, as well as communicate its details.
What does that mean?
BIM is a building development tool that is based on a 3-d model of a building created in an object-oriented (intelligent) modeling software. Once the model is created, it can be used to assist with design, construction and operational tasks; it can also be used as a communication tool. Different uses of BIM may require different software applications to utilize the model, so BIM requires software to be interoperable.
What are some of the benefits of BIM?
One of the primary benefits of BIM is increased visualization of the building throughout the lifetime of the building. Increased visualization of the building contributes to increased collaboration and efficiency. The use of BIM software programs reduces redundancies and increased coordination. Together, these benefits enhance and simplify the design and construction phases of the building lifetime.
And of course, the essential benefit of BIM is the cost savings realized throughout the lifetime of the building.
What are some practical applications of BIM?
For architects, BIM can be used as both a design tool and a document-creation tool. Practical applications for builders include clash detection/MEP coordination, visual scheduling and quantity extraction. Among other things, BIM can also assist with the LEED certification process, energy analysis, progress tracking, structural analysis and site logistics.
In some geographical locations, BIM can be used to check compliance with zoning restrictions and building codes.BIM sounds too good to be true.
What are some of the barriers to industry implementation?
What are some of the barriers to company implementation?
How much does it cost to implement BIM?
There isn’t a single correct answer to this question. However to get an idea of the cost, consider what it takes to implement BIM: software licenses, new hardware, new staff, software training, etc.
Implementing BIM can be expensive; however, keep in mind that there are major cost (and headache) savings associated with the use of BIM.
Alright, I'm sold. Now what?
How do I use BIM?
How do I learn all of this software?
What is a 2D Conversion & how do I perform one?
Are there any questions that I missed? I would really appreciate feedback on the questions (and answers) from anyone who has a moment to!
The reason I wanted to email you was I really enjoyed you post ofWe also get mixed responses when we share issues with the design team. In this case, the principal of the design firm responded in under 15 minutes:
"the new RFI". I have been doing something like this for a bit now
and when I came across your article it put a bit of a new spin on it.
My real question is do you find this effective? I seem to always come
across "Bad CAD" when I am creating the Revit Model. I think we both
know its a great value to find issues before they hit the field but
really I am getting very mixed response when I share this with the
I have to say that this is the best format and presentation of questions I have ever seen from any contractor, and I've worked with quite a few... and I'm not just blowing smoke. Thanks!We've sent non-DCR reports to architects before that have been poorly received. I think that architects respond negatively for one (or more) of several reasons:
- They feel threatened; no one likes having their mistakes pointed out.
- They think they are acquiring some kind of risk.
- The tone of the report is not collaborative.
- The report makes their job harder, not easier.