By Matthew Johnson, Associate Director

“Will BIM cost me more?”

It’s a question we often hear in our conversations with clients and contractors. As the construction industry evolves and more consistently looks to adopt BIM (Building Information Modelling) processes, people want to know if investing in BIM up front will save them money or cost them money in the long run.

Like most things in the modern world of communication and commerce, there is no straighforward yes or no. Instead, the answer is… “Well, it depends…”

It depends on:

  • what you want do with it.
  • what you want to use it for afterwards.

In previous Insight articles I have discussed why BIM, as a technology, isn’t as simple as a bolt-on commodity that can be just added to a project (see Just Adding BIM doesn’t add up.) As more consultants approach readiness to adopt the technology in their day-to-day offerings, we are now fielding more questions around where the costs of BIM adoption play out.

So, will it cost you more?

At POWE Architects, we have advocated for years that adopting BIM for documentation delivery shouldn’t impart any additional costs to the project for clients.

In selecting a system for producing project documentation, our choice of platform is our commercial decision, and any associated platform overheads or performance benefits are for us to wrestle with – so long as those documents are of comparable quality and design resolution as the documents produced from any other system.

Essentially, there are no additional costs to the client if we choose to use BIM.

Additional costs to the client should only arise where there is a product to be delivered, or an additional service to be provided, that requires BIM to create the content.

The benefits of BIM

The true benefits of BIM documentation are:

  • the higher level of design resolution that can be achieved.
  • the level of confidence that can be secured for the project. Confidence in design and documentation can only be achieved with rigorous verification and validation of design proposals in conditions as close as possible to the real-world install situation. Only rigorous BIM processes, backed up by rigorous design validation and communication, can achieve this.
  • a potential reduction in on-site waste and therefore reduced material costs for more sustainable project delivery outcomes. Long gone are the days of single line diagrams being enough resolution for services engineering documentation. The market is now demanding plumbing and cabling routes that are fully coordinated and resolved with predetermined penetrations. If we can resolve all of our building documentation to this level, clients can realise these benefits.

How upfront BIM costs can result in longer term savings

Depending on the desired level of confidence the client wants, this can sometimes lead to additional scope and costs from the consultant team to develop sufficiently detailed BIM validation to test all of the variables.

However, where this adds cost to the up-front design process, it will save many times these costs in the overall confidence that can be passed to the construction, sub-contracting and maintenance teams. Further, this confidence can then lead to a lower overall cost to deliver the project and maintain the finished building.

Increased confidence = priceless

When considering  the cost impact of BIM to a project budget, consider how much additional cost will be unavoidable, during construction, if you don’t invest in a confident delivery approach. A more astute question might be; can your project afford not to?

Matthew Johnson has spent over 20 years building his expertise in the application of BIM technologies for project delivery. If you’d like to chat with Matthew about BIM and discuss ideas for how it might help your future projects, contact him at matthew@powearchitects.com

See below for more of our BIM-related articles:

Share the LO(A)D 

ARCHICON – A director’s perspective

Just adding BIM doesn’t add up 

Do you want BIM with that?