CPA & Business Advisory Blog

BIM: What is it? And, how can it enhance job costing?

Building Information Modeling, or BIM, has been around for decades but has caught the attention of the construction industry in the last several years and is continuing to pick up momentum for good reason.  Implementing BIM has helped contractors streamline their job costing which is one of the most important activities performed by those working in the construction industry.  Some contractors are spending as much as 50% of their time doing so and it has been estimated that, in 2009, project owners will spend $70 billion on costing jobs. 

BIM is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle.  It is a process in which three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modeling software is used to increase productivity throughout the design and construction processes.  BIM is able to achieve many improvements by modeling representations of the actual parts and pieces being used to build a building as opposed to the traditional computer aided drafting method.  BIM is being used to bridge the information loss associated with handing a project from design team to construction team to building owner/operator.  Basically, BIM allows all those working on a project to see exactly how each of their moving pieces and parts are going to interact with those of the other trades, and identify any potential problems before they are an actual problem.

Just how big is this? An example from a recent Contractor Magazine article cited that, during the design phase of a 96,000-sq-ft data center in Rhode Island, a team was able to cut expected coordination time from four months to two-and-a-half months with a cost savings of $86,000.  They were able to identify 1,445 clashes, or conflicts, before crews even arrived in the field.  This resulted in a 43% reduction in anticipated requests for information.  These clashes were estimated to have a potential cost in excess of $863,000. 

Another tremendous byproduct of the BIM process is that many subcontractors now have the ability to prefabricate some of their larger and more complex assemblies off-site, reducing field hours by as much as an estimated 15%.

The increasing popularity and use of BIM is illustrated by the August McGraw-Hill Construction survey in which 23% of contractors reported using BIM on at least 60% of their projects during 2008.  In 2009, 38% expect to use it at that level, making contractors the fastest growing user segment in the BIM world.

This fast growth has lead to numerous organizations initiating actions to develop a National BIM Standard such as the NIBS BIM Initiatives, Industry BIM Initiatives, and BIM Libraries.

Have questions about job costing? Contact our Real Estate and Construction Group at 440-449-6800.

Topics: Cleveland Construction Accounting, Akron Construction Accounting

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