The construction industry continues to be one of the biggest and most significant industries around the world. It employs millions of people worldwide and pushes the boundaries of architectural design. Buildings are bigger, smarter, and more energy efficient than ever. So why are the costs of construction still so high? And what can be done to tackle the wasteful culture associated with the construction industry? BIM may just be the solution!
The benefits of BIM within construction are widely acknowledged now. It can help to streamline the design process, increase productivity throughout the construction process and maximise profitability once the project is completed. However, can incorporating a BIM model help to reduce construction costs overall? It’s clear that in today’s climate where every penny saved is a penny earned, reducing costs comes in as priority number one!
In this article, we will outline 5 effective ways in which BIM can help to reduce construction costs and why, in 2022, it is a vital commodity to the construction industry on the whole.
The cost of construction in 2022
When starting a construction project there is always a wide range of expenses that need to be taken into account. The most costly and significant areas are the price of necessary materials, labor costs, logistics, tools and equipment and the price of land.
Over the past few years building costs, just like everything else on planet earth, have risen dramatically! Unforeseen factors such as the COVID pandemic and a spike in energy prices have caused massive disruptions to supply chains, delays in logistics, and the manufacture of raw materials. Once demand begins to outweigh the supply, costs naturally increase. These matters, coupled with a shortage of skilled labourers, have all contributed to construction costs rising by more than 10% in the UK alone in 2022.
Unfortunately, these factors are out of the hands of project managers. However, there are other ways to reduce the rising costs and the implementation of BIM is one of the most effective ways of doing so!
5 ways BIM helps to reduce construction costs:
Building information modelling has taken the construction industry by storm. It aids architects, engineers, and contractors from the initial design and planning stages through to completion and beyond. It encourages productivity, minimises the risk of error, and most importantly reduces overall costs. Here are 5 ways that integrating BIM models can reduce construction costs.
As the old saying goes – “time is money!”
If there’s one guaranteed way to reduce costs, then it’s to get things done quicker and more efficiently. This is the ultimate benefit of BIM and its advantages in time-saving can be seen throughout the lifecycle of an entire project.
During the pre-construction phase, architects can now use sophisticated design software to construct a virtual image of the finished product. In the past, it would take days, or even weeks, to design a building using pencil and paper, but now, thanks to BIM software, we can visualise a building hours after it has been imagined. What’s more, design and construction documents can be updated instantly to reflect structural changes, site conditions, or design elements. Tasks that would normally take hours can now be done in minutes and automatically sent to the entire project team.
Information modelling helps to expedite the construction process also. Subcontractors can use the BIM data and 3d models to prefabricate and assemble fixtures and fittings off-site, then simply transport them to the building site once they’re needed. In the current climate, being able to plan so far ahead not only gets the project finished on time, but also avoids costly delays and setbacks.
Accurate cost estimates and minimal wastage with BIM
Estimating costs in the initial planning stages is crucial in order to stick to the overall project budget. Architect and construction teams need to be able to estimate costs regarding materials, shipping, logistics, prefabrication, labour, and the timeline of the project.
Using the highly detailed 3d BIM models allow estimators to visualise exactly what materials need ordering, whether they need to be pre-assembled and when they need to be shipped to the construction site. In the past, over-ordering was common to ensure the necessary materials are available, however, this often leads to high levels of wastage and disposal costs. The BIM model-based approach gives teams far more accurate estimates than typical 2d blueprint drawings and they make the entire estimating process faster and without error.
Not only does the BIM model allow for better cost estimating, but it also can identify ways of cost-cutting as well. Project management teams can reduce their overall costs in several ways thanks to the forecasting data provided by BIM. They can:
- Choose alternative materials that could work out cheaper
- Predict project completion earlier than expected
- Reduce overall labour costs through accurate workflow scheduling
- Prevent project delays and wastage costs
Ensures the project is completed on time and prevents delays
One of the biggest and most unnecessary costs incurred throughout the construction industry is delays and scheduling errors. To be put simply, the faster a project can be completed, the less money will need to be spent on it! It also allows the proprietors to start using the building earlier which, in turn, increases the potential return on investment. The implementation of BIM models has been proven to shorten the lifecycle of a project and increase efficiency.
The use of BIM models allows tasks to be completed faster and work to begin earlier than originally planned. For example, the assembly of any large or complex fixtures can be identified early on and prefabricated in a separate location while construction is ongoing. Once they’re needed then they can simply be shipped to the site and secured in place, saving time and hundreds of hours in labour costs.
The data provided by BIM modelling software helps project management teams to track a building’s progress and make updates in real-time. Managers can identify errors or necessary changes long before they need to be implemented, enabling the construction process to run smoothly and without delay.
Increased collaboration means fewer mistakes with BIM
One of the biggest advantages of using a BIM-based model is that it encourages all stakeholders within the project to collaborate effectively with one another. In the past, any changes that needed making would have involved endless phone calls, emails and in-person meetings. One mistake, or communication error, can set a project back by weeks and incur huge additional costs. BIM has changed this way of working forever!
BIM integration has introduced the use of cloud-based technology which has significantly improved coordination and communication. The BIM data is stored in one centralised space enabling contractors, architects, engineers, and clients to log in and work from one set of plans. They can make changes together, and update everyone at the same time without affecting the construction schedule. In addition, with the use of BIM-enabled mobile devices, teams can take the project from the office to the field to review construction in real-time.
This efficient use of resources, with teams working together harmoniously, directly impacts the cost of a construction project and maximises its profitability. As well as keeping all stakeholders happy and content, it helps to minimise mistakes, identify errors and ultimately keep the project following a smooth path to completion!
Reduces future maintenance costs of the building
BIM models can reduce construction costs across the entire lifecycle of a building, not just in the initial design and construction phase. It’s proven that following a BIM model helps to produce better overall results, therefore the need for reactive maintenance in the future automatically decreases. The building owner can use BIM modelling data for a variety of purposes long after the completion of the project to maximise its cost-saving capabilities.
Facility managers can be proactive and identify potential hazards before they arise or even locate problem areas around the building using the 3d models. For example, if the building is experiencing water damage, instead of studying complicated paper-based blueprints, contractors can use the BIM models to locate and fix the affected area. The digital records can then be updated to ensure the same problem doesn’t continue in the future.
Other ways the BIM models can help reduce future costs include:
- Identifying more energy-efficient ways of maintaining the building
- Maintenance and renovation works can be scheduled efficiently and only when needed
- Prevents unnecessary work being carried out
- Gives all future building managers a better understanding of the layout and design of the building
BIM has had a positive impact on almost every aspect of the architectural, design and construction industries. Projects are completed to higher standards, operations have become smoother and as we’ve seen here, construction costs have been reduced! In 2022, when the price of raw materials, energy, and logistics are on the rise, utilising the power of BIM can be viewed as essential.
In addition to the points laid out above, BIM can also reduce construction costs indirectly. With BIM, buildings are safer than ever, reducing workplace accidents and expensive lawsuits. It helps develop structures that are more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, crucial aspects going forward in today’s global climate.
The power of BIM has only just begun, as technology and the construction industry continues to develop at a rapid rate, BIM’s features will grow with it.