By Lynn Pearcey, MBA, Copywriter, AIA Contract Documents
August 8, 2023
Business Information Modeling (BIM) impacts every facet of a construction site and those working on it, including contractors. Contractors are often the feet on the ground, making the magic happen and bringing the dream to reality. It’s a complex job, but someone has to do it, and doing it becomes less complex when using BIM.
While BIM is proven to make life for contractors easier, some contractors continue using the familiar methods. Spreadsheets, manual forecasting, long, drawn-out meetings, and other inefficient means still dot the contractor project landscape. A large part of their unwillingness to try new methods comes from a place of comfort and an unwillingness to change and adapt. In the minds of some, it isn’t broken, so why fix it? But, in reality, the contractor’s marriage to the old might be a function of not knowing enough about the new.
If you’re a contractor and you’re still not sold on how BIM can impact your business, consider the following.
Better Change Order Management
A change order is an agreement to revise the original terms of a construction contract between a contractor and an owner. On construction sites, change orders happen all of the time, sometimes daily. How you manage them plays a pivotal role in the success of the project while also helping to secure other work opportunities. It’s a heavy lift to say the least but BIM lightens that load significantly.
Change orders happen because you didn’t see something coming down the road. One of the many beauties you’ll find with BIM is that you can forecast confidently and accurately. When you forecast with this technology, you become proactive instead of reactive. This change means unpredictability is no longer part of the construction equation leading to a more efficient project.
Read Change Management: Establishing Your Firm’s Policies to learn more about how you can be prepared to address change when it inevitably happens on your project.
Better Planning and Budgeting
A successful construction project is defined by several variables, including the budget. A recent report by McKinsey & Company found that an astounding 98% of contractors have experienced a project delay at some point, and 80% said it caused their projects to go over budget. These figures are staggering, but BIM can help reduce both.
The greatest challenge most contractors face is thinking budgets are static when in most cases, they’re constantly changing. BIM allows you to avoid this challenge through Cost Estimation. BIM Cost Estimation means contractors can add cost to the BIM model as the project progresses. Using this technology, you can see the smallest cost and appropriately account for it. This feature allows you to stay on-time with your project and on-budget.
Collaboration and Coordination
For any construction project to succeed, there needs to be extreme amounts of collaboration and coordination, and these are two areas BIM improves. BIM improves transparency and allows contractors to make better choices. When everyone sees the same model and works off the same page, the potential for risks or failure decreases tremendously.
Conflicts or clashes, as users often refer to them, are easily avoided when using BIM. When these instances are detected, project participants can make changes. These challenges come in all shapes and sizes, and they can wreak havoc on every aspect of a build, but with BIM, those areas become worries of the past.
For contractors, BIM is a simply incredible tool. It can make good contractors better and eventually lead to them becoming great. If you’re considering adding BIM to your construction asset arsenal, step back and review your business model before moving forward. Find the areas that need to be revised and customize a BIM solution that turns those weaknesses into strengths. Remember, as a contractor; there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders. It only makes sense to arm yourself with the right tools to do the heavy lifting.
Want to learn more about AIA Contract Documents Digital Practice Documents? Read Introducing AIA Contract Documents’ BIM Documents.
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.