Subcontractor Provides BIM Lessons Learned
February 25, 2011

Over the past few years Building Information Modeling (BIM) has quickly become a trend in the design and construction industry, with an increasing number of companies jumping on board with these projects. Some companies that have been involved with BIM for a while now shared their “lessons learned in integrating BIM” during a webinar yesterday afternoon hosted by Reed Construction Data. Kim Lorch, vice president of the Raymond Group, a wall and ceiling specialty contractor, provided the subcontractor perspective.

Lorch explained that his company has been involved with not only BIM projects, but what he called “pre-BIM” projects, and talked about what a specialty contractor, such as a contract glazier, can add to the process.
For example, he explained that specialty subs bring expertise in their trade and will represent what’s going to be built. Also, he pointed out that trade-specific software and processes are available.

“These allow specialty trades to detail their work,” Lorch said.

He continued. “We [specialty subs] will build what [architects] draw; we accept the risks of developing the job. We’re going to be involved early on and then accept the risks of going out their and building the job.”

He added, “We have a vested interest in the coordination process.”

Lorch also talked about considerations when engaging with a specialty sub. He said there is a trend toward separating the design side of the contract from the construction side. “This may be attractive on one level, but a lot of the efficient gains that happen in the process are going to happen in the field,” he said. “Also, there needs to be a process to make sure of the value … some sort of open book process.”

Next, Lorch touched on some of the prerequisites in defining costs and what will be delivered.

“The deliverables need to be defined upfront,” Lorch stressed.

He also shared some of what his company has learned from its involvement with BIM projects.

“There needs to be a strong, central leadership, probably most logically the general contractor or construction manager,” said Lorch, who explained that this entity needs to make sure the right people are in the meetings and implement the centralized server for the data exchange. “And again, the deliverables need to be extremely well defined.”

Also, he noted, “There needs to be a really great process for dealing with changes [and] there needs to be a very cooperative effort because everyone (all the different trades) is going to have a bend in this process and the commitment must be extremely important.”

He also stress that it is vital that all entities are a part of the process. Lorch says one of the big questions still hanging out there is whether BIM can benefit filed productivity. Lorch says yes, but this is still early.

“BIM is coordination and skills. If you do it right and follow through you really can’t miss. And we have seen a very large reduction in change orders related to coordination … the industry is starting to see there is a real cost-savings.”

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