Is BIM Better?

As a slight reprieve from all the Pro-BIM chat, let’s ask a simple question, is BIM better? I won’t bore you with what you’ll expect and what you probably already know. Instead, let’s take the contrarian’s approach and channel those few who remain in our firms – you know who they are, that would answer ‘No’…

BIM introduces change. Change in the Optimist’s eyes is all well and good but let’s be real; The optimist often overlooks or ignores the details and as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. The optimist is easily wowed by all the magical things BIM can do but ignores the fact that, well, we don’t really need to do all that. When I tell the optimist that this change effects how I budget projects, and I don’t want to change the way I budget projects he responds with something about “LOD’s”. I have a system that’s worked for 30 years . What the hell do I do with an “LOD” and how the hell do I budget for a BIM project?

My friend the optimist tells me that there’s more effort up front in a BIM project and then it tapers off in CD’s but I haven’t seen this. Has anyone actually got any hard metrics on this? Sure I’ve seen the HOK graph from 10 years ago that BIM folks like to throw around and look knowledgeable about. But it’s just a diagram of a theory. Show me some real and actualized project performance data. My friend the project accountant showed me real project data from a large project with about 45 production staff and yeah, there was a lot of billable hours up front. They got that part right. But those hours continued through DD’s and into CD’s without much change. Full disclosure, I haven’t seen the project closeout numbers but they sure weren’t looking good and weren’t giving me much faith that there would be a downturn in hours.

I’m told that BIM teams can be smaller if they are experienced. Well my guys seem to be taking a heck of a long time doing this BIM stuff that I don’t understand and I can’t tell if they are doing it right or not. Good thing I can review the docs and that’s all that matters. Wait, what? We are delivering the BIM model? How do we know what we are delivering in this thing? How do we quality check a document set and a BIM within the budget of an average project. It is going to take more hours to do that. I was told BIM was a more efficient method. It seems to me it is less efficient plus I’ve got to go and learn all this new shit, when what I was doing before seemed to work just fine.

More productivity sounds great, but I don’t see it. And to top it off, I still had to buy new workstations, new plugins and tools, training services, and now I’m told that I need a BIM Manager on each project. Well Mr. Optimist, I’ve followed your rainbow, where’s my pot of gold, because I don’t have it. All I have is headache and a bitter attitude towards BIM.

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