BIM Principles Part 2: Model As It Will Be Constructed

BIM Principles Part 2: Model As It Will Be Constructed

We’re continuing our posts on the BIM principles with our second principle, Model As It Will Be Constructed.

Last month, we discussed adding value to the design team. You can review that article here.  Another way we can add value is to model buildings as they will actually be constructed. We can be better engineers, collaborators and BIM leaders if our models reflect how projects are actually built in the field.

If you’re not familiar with the AEC industry, this may seem like a strange principle to include. After all, how do buildings come together if not from a realistic model? In short, the deliverable to the architect is actually a 2D set of drawings, which is what contractors and construction foreman actually use to piece together a building at the project site. While it is possible to create a great set of drawings from a poorly constructed model, it’s certainly a lot harder to do so.

Bad models that don’t accurately represent the finished project can include any number of shortcuts. For example, we’ve seen one large wall from the basement to the roof, rather than individual walls on each level or even ceilings all at the same level. Modeling for the simple purpose of creating drawings doesn’t even scratch the surface of Revit capabilities. While Revit is not the only BIM tool we use, it is our authoring tool of choice and we try to take advantage of how it can drastically improve our workflow and the client’s experience working with us.

At PES, we teach our young engineers from the start to model projects as they will be constructed. Not only does it help them to better understand how a building comes together but it is also much easier to create good drawings from a good model. Starting with an inadequate model means it may require many work-arounds and will almost certainly result in many more hours of work and many more headaches for all parties involved in the project delivery process. If we model it correctly from the beginning, the drawings are easier to create and change.

We all know that revisions, updates and changes are very common on the road to building completion. Accepting changes are much easier and more efficient when we have spent the upfront time to build a solid model. When all of the information is included in the model and the model accurately reflects the realities of construction, we can change beam locations, roof slope, or floor type very easily. Updating the drawing set then becomes a breeze.

Modeling as a project will be constructed also allows us to be better collaborators. For example, when we need to place a shear wall, being able to see any openings that an architect has specified helps us to model our structural elements. We always try to be good collaborators and think about the needs of the architectural and MEP disciplines when working, but it is significantly easier when we can see the elements come together as they will be constructed.

Next month, we’ll break down our third principle, Model to Accommodate Change Swiftly. Adapting to change is how we become excellent engineers, collaborators and partners. And as well all learned from Darwin back in Biology class, “the ones that are most responsive to change are the ones that survive.”

We’d love to hear how you guide your BIM efforts to engage your design teams. Contact Matt Sweeney, our BIM Program Manager, at msweeney@pesengineers.com to share what works for you.