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BIM: A new way of building

Building Information Modeling provides contractors and architects with the ability to create a 3-D model of a structure through its software. The representation also contains information about the building, from dimensions to materials.

Building Information Modeling provides contractors and architects with the ability to create a 3-D model of a structure through its software. The representation also contains information about the building, from dimensions to materials.

A lot of planning goes into designing and constructing a building, from the layout to the right materials to use. However, even once blueprints are made, nothing is set in stone – the floor plan could be rearranged or the size of a beam could be changed. In situations like these, you'd have to correct each sketch individually, but with the use of Building Information Modeling, you could change the information all at once.

Why BIM?
BIM provides contractors and architects with the ability to create a 3-D model through its software. Not only does it share the layout of a building, the program also allows you to enter information about each aspect, from dimensions to functionality, according to the National Building Information Modeling Standard. BIM ensures that there won't be any miscommunication, redundancy or translation errors, explained Bentley Systems, Inc.

This technology has been shown to increase productivity, lower costs, reduce risks and allow for more trial and error, according to Line/Shape/Space. It's easy to change design and dimensions on a computer, not so easy with pencil and paper. BIM gives contractors and architects more freedom when planning a building.

Collaboration at all levels
Since the BIM system follows the infrastructure from design to creation to management, it gives each group the chance provide input. As of 2014, 55 percent of contractors, 75 percent of architects and 43 percent of engineers were using BIM, Line/Shape/Space's infographic explained.

During design, architects can create and recreate the layout of the building until it's the way they want it. Then contractors can look at the plans on a computer, tablet or smartphone during construction and add information about materials used and specifications about products. But it doesn't stop there. Building managers and owners can also use BIM to oversee their property after construction. If something is wrong with the building, the overseer can go to the program and check where exactly something is and the material used. For example, if fasteners need replacing, the building manager can go to BIM to see what type was used. The software allows you to have all the information in one location for everyone's use.

The downfall of BIM
While there are plenty of advantages to this system, there are also disadvantages. One big issue is the lack of interoperability between programs. Different software caters to different materials, and documentation and design are separate programs, according to a different Line/Shape/Space article. If you change something in one program, you'll have to take the time to fix it in the other program. You could update the analysis model, but that takes time that you might not have, according to the source.

Implementing BIM software is also expensive. According to the National BIM Standard, the lack of interoperability adds approximately $15.8 billion annually. The committee that oversees the standard is currently working to improve the system.

Building Information Modeling has both its advantages and disadvantages, and it's up to each company to decide which method works best for them.