General contractors are one of the groups that can most benefit from building information modeling, or BIM. To truly understand why BIM can be so helpful to general contractors, let’s first go over what a general contractor is. A general contractor is simply the contractor who has been awarded the contract of a project directly from a client. The general contractor stays in contact with the client throughout the duration of the project, and is the one who hires all necessary subcontractors. Subcontractors are usually workers that are hired to focus on more specialized tasks that the general contractor may not be prepared for, such as electrician work, plumbing, or HVAC. Looking for examples of how BIM construction can create better projects? Visit our Projects page for images and more.
So how does BIM benefit a general contractor? The benefits of building information modeling become clear when you consider that a general contractor not only works in a construction capacity but also in a management capacity, overseeing their own team members but subcontractor teams as well. The top priorities for the management role of general contractor should be to have accurate timeline and cost estimates, to ensure quality of work, to ensure efficient work and communication, and to ensure a safe worksite.
BIM and Pre-Construction
The advantages of BIM become obvious from the very first steps of the project, during the pre-construction and planning phase. This phase encompasses a great deal of communication with the client, the creation of a visual model, and the creation of a timeline and cost estimates. The advanced modeling techniques used in BIM construction are designed specifically to improve these aspects. BIM techniques design building models with a much denser level of information that standard construction practices. A model created by a BIM firm will include both 4D and 5D modeling.
4D AND 5D MODELING IN BIM
Four dimensional modeling in BIM signifies the inclusion of a timeline. This allows anyone viewing the model to have a more detailed understanding of how the project will look, at any point in time. This makes timeline estimates more accurate and makes the model easier to explain to clients who may not be experienced in construction.
Five dimensional modeling in BIM encompasses the fifth dimension, or cost. Manually estimating cost using traditional methods is time-consuming and invites the possibility of human error. A model created using BIM bypasses much of these problems by incorporating cost into the model and using information within the model to estimate cost. When creating a 3D building model using BIM, general contractors are able to input information on cost of things like material, work hours, and nearly anything else that can be represented in the model. This minute detail allows general contractors to offer more accurate, more cost-effective contract bids.
BIM AND SUBCONTRACTOR MANAGEMENT
One of the most frequent headache-causing aspects of being a general contractor is the management aspect. Construction is a complex field, so even a relatively small project can require multiple subcontractors, and orchestrating the work of subcontractors can feel like a full-time job in itself. One of the keystones of BIM construction is that it allows for more convenient communication and synchronization by storing the model in a shared workspace that all involved persons have access to. With this synchronization, management can schedule subcontractor teams with precision to avoid clashes and lengthy scheduling errors.
Interested in learning how BIM can improve your projects? Contact Smarcon to speak with our experts.