What if we could virtually build today what’s going to happen on site three months from now? What if we could pre-fabricate exterior wall assemblies, piping and ductwork so that our trade partners aren’t cutting on the site? What if we built washroom pods in the shop with everything inside them so all we had to do on site was slide them into place? The estimated return on investment for virtual design and construction is two to three times the initial outlay. Our perspective for using BIM-enabled technologies is simple; we want to deliver durable buildings that are more cost effective and faster for clients no matter the size of their project.
BIM technology enables design and construction project teams to collaborate on virtual models to test ideas, optimize building performance, and coordinate work before even thinking about procurement or construction. All of us want to experience fewer change orders and requests for information. All of us want to minimize on-site installation conflicts and facilitate assembly by optimizing the schedule. To do this, we use tools such as Assemble to provide more accurate costing, visual phasing, and schedule analysis to reduce project risks.
We believe that the key to the success for BIM starts with co-creation of the model by the entire team. Our team works with the design team to model the project months in advance of construction. This collaborative approach allows the entire team to gain a deeper understanding of the project while finding coordination and detailing problems before construction begins. The most critical elements will be modelled to an appropriate level of detail to maximize opportunities for pre-fabrication and labour efficiency. A carefully considered and thorough BIM/VDC execution plan including a comprehensive Level of Development (LOD) matrix is central to managing risk on BIM-enabled projects.
Most contractors start their BIM/VDC journey in the estimating department and then take the technology to the field. We decided to be different and started using BIM/VDC for survey layout in the field. We now do our entire survey layout in-house. In many instances we do layout for our trade partners directly from the model. This puts us in front of our trade partners in finding potential issues early so they can be addressed by our design partners. Once the model is complete and clashes are eliminated, pre-fabrication of many materials can occur. This includes pre-cut studs, pre-cast walls, and steel elements. The model is also used for layout where QA/QC point cloud scanning can be done in the field to reduce errors.
During construction a significant portion of our team’s time will be spent obtaining and modelling as-built information from trade foremen ensuring the model is accurate, relevant, and available to workers in the field. BIM kiosks complete with protective shelving, high performance computers, and printers are placed in the construction environment, allowing any person on site to access the details. This supplements many trade staff members who use their own tablets to access design information while in the field. This way, they can stand in front of what they are building with the most up-to-date information in their hands.