Contractors and the Various Phases of BIM

By Lynn Pearcey, MBA, Copywriter, AIA Contract Documents

August 8, 2023

BIM is becoming an essential piece of contractor business models. The technology makes life easier and helps contractors deliver quality results in ways never imagined. When it comes to efficiency, contractors see considerable improvements from project to project as they become more comfortable working with their solution. Timeline integrity and budgeting are more manageable when using BIM as it reduces or eliminates unforeseen circumstances where misalignment is known to originate.

For any construction project, the phased approach is the method of choice when it comes to the actual building of the structure. Using phases, the impact and extreme value of BIM reveals itself. Different components of BIM become active during each phase, and in the end, the contractor delivers a superior product in every sense of the word. From efficiency to cost management, communication, collaboration, budgeting, and beyond, every component of a project is better with BIM.

The value of BIM is in the phases and a closer look at each phase shows the importance of this leading-edge tool.

The Pre-construction Phase

During pre-construction, contractors and owners spend time hashing out all the build details to ensure everyone is on the same page before work begins. During this phase, the first glimpse of the power of BIM comes into play. Visualizations and digital renderings help identify potential risks and help both parties create accurate budgets. Extreme granularity is the hallmark of this phase and if you’re a contractor, you’ll want to dig deep and as even the smallest detail can throw a wrench in your future efforts.

The pre-construction phase is critical and the foundation for all aspects of the project moving forward. When it’s done well, it sets the tone for an efficient, cost-effective build. At the conclusion of this phase and with the help of BIM, both parties walk away with an understanding of their duties and roles in the construction process.

The Construction Phase

 The construction phase is where contractors go to war, and with BIM, they’re ready for any challenge they may face. Managing the timeline is the priority, and BIM becomes the eyes and ears of leadership. The timeline is the central nervous system of the project body, and any deviation from the set milestones can lead to costly damages. In a perfect world, everything would go as planned. But in reality, a construction site is far from perfect, which is why it’s incumbent upon contractors to use every tool at their disposal to eliminate imperfections.

It’s during this phase that change orders make their first appearance. For a contractor, managing change orders plays a crucial role in how the project flows. Ineffective change order management is a recipe for disaster. There’s a domino effect at play, and a problem in one area can spill over into others, creating chaos on every level. With BIM, you can see the big picture and move parts and pieces accordingly to deliver the desired result. Looking for the AIA Change Order – G701? Get it here.

The Post-Construction Phase

 BIM continues paying dividends long after the project is complete, and this occurs in the post-construction phase. During this phase, what started as a mix of parts, people, and dirt, transitions into an asset. Using BIM, contractors review the structure with the building owners to ensure they understand all the features and functions. BIM even allows contractors to build detailed cost models that outline the resources needed to maintain what is now a true asset.


 The benefits contractors derive from using BIM are immense and are felt throughout all phases of the construction process. During pre-construction, contractors, owners, and an array of professionals plant the seeds of success. Cultivating those seeds occurs during the construction phase when contractors are on the ground doing the actual work. When post-construction arrives, all parties can see the fruits of their labor, and the harvesting of an asset begins. All this happens more efficiently and cost-effectively, thanks to the leading-edge technology … of BIM.

Want to learn more about AIA Contract Documents Digital Practice Documents? Read Introducing AIA Contract Documents’ BIM Documents.

Review BIM as a Contract Document – Can it be Done? to learn how contract documents apply on BIM projects.

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors. Any language quoting from AIA Contract Documents that have not yet been released is subject to change before final publication.