Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle. Typically it uses three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modeling software to increase productivity in building design and construction. The process produces the Building Information Model (also abbreviated BIM), which encompasses building geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components. BIM can be taken to a 4th dimension (time) by linking schedules to spatial points in the BIM, and to a 5th dimension by linking component costs to spatial points in the model. Some are experimenting with "6D BIM" relating to lifecycle costs and/or sustainability.


BIM Utilization Approach & Experience

Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) go hand-in-glove, but neither is a substitute for the other.  Both promote collaboration between designers and builders as well as among the individuals working within each of those disciplines.

The IPD approach to utilizing BIM is best executed in the “Big Room” – a place where all the collaborators work together in physical proximity with iterative conversations occurring continuously during the plan/design/construct process.  Individual and team ideas get explored in BIM, reworked in the group and then documented in detail in BIM and the PDCA loop continues.

BIM is also an integral component of real-time costing – an activity central to Integrated Project Delivery.  BIM and cost modeling to continuously capture design choices and update budgets. 

BIM can also be used to help gain understanding from a safety perspective for the stakeholders including the local fire department, OSHA and/or other outside agencies.

It starts with BIM SWAT

Providing efficient IT solutions for BIM users and the design/build team required that all stakeholders initially collaborate on a comprehensive statement of their mutual expectations and Conditions of Satisfaction for the entire BIM suite of systems.  A BIM Special Work Action Team should be organized at the beginning of the project and meet regularly.  It is charged with developing a collaborative understanding and the procedures and processes that are products of it.  In developing solutions, the BIM Special Work Action Team needs to develop the following guidelines:

Architectural and Engineering Software—in addition to choosing specific software functionalities and cross-platform programs, the BIM team will develop the protocols and procedures for implementation.  Consensus on products, usage, best practices, procedures and protocols will be made pursuant to a comprehensive decision-making plan that specifically includes support from the Project Manager and Senior Management at all IPD team companies including trade contractors who are involved in design.

Ordering and Clash detection across multiple platforms – The BIM team must first investigate and choose appropriate software.  This may include patching together a suite of software products or selecting a single product like Horizontal Blue or its equivalent which incorporates the functionality of many tools in ordering and clash detection.  Once the software solution has been chosen, the BIM team will collaboratively develop an implementation plan including the identification of roles and responsibilities to all the potential users/stakeholders.  Decisions in this area will be communicated to all the stakeholders for implementation of the chosen software including policies, procedures and protocols for its access, use and data retention.

Real-time estimating (model based costing) – The BIM team strategy includes a plan of action, software selection and multiple A3’s studying how to implement model based costing using the chosen BIM platform and related software.



Key outputs in executing this BIM/IPD strategy including the following:

  • Improved decision-making: Reduce poor design decisions by using digital models and electronic design visualizations during design and construction.
  • Improved construction documentation: Reduce the level of unknowns in contract documents—eliminating the use of the RFI process to “fill in the gaps.” Leverage BIM to re-establish accuracy and precision, and improve the level of construction cognition and assembly understanding on the part of the architects, engineers, and owners.
  • Improved preconstruction estimating: Reduce the level of guesswork and inefficiency in preconstruction estimating by leveraging schematic design take-offs generated in the BIM process. Leverage the use of multiple pricing models by the contractor and reuse as-built digital models in new markets.
  • Improved procurement and scheduling: Reform procurement and project scheduling through the use of time modeling (sometimes known as 4D modeling) and cost modeling techniques—eliminating job-site slow time/downtime and improving sub-trade coordination, overlaps and phasing.
  • Improved coordination: Reduce the number of field coordination errors by integrating the design models of the major design disciplines early in the design process and using clash detection software to facilitate interdisciplinary design coordination—thereby solving coordination issues virtually rather than in the field.
  • Improved cost-efficiency: Reduce cost impacts of coordination errors, incorrect fabrication, and improper installation by adopting a pre-fit workflow from the designer to the sub-contractor and enforcing greater installation precision. Reduce the use of overtime labor and premium charges for recouping project schedule lost to these unnecessary errors. Reduce spending in general conditions, insurance, and carrying costs by optimizing project schedules that will result in faster construction.
  • Improved closeout documents: Transform the archaic quality of closeout documents, particularly traditional as-built/record drawings, by migrating to a BIM-centric approach for all project documents. Transition the digital model generated during design and construction to facilities management, allowing the owner/operator to use it for building lifecycle management.



BIM will be used to reduce unpredictability by testing the design prior to start of construction through a Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) effort. This involves:

  • Design Coordination: Providing platforms for integrated processes built on coordinated reliable information and resulting in enhanced coordination, fewer RFIs and change orders, and less rework.
  • 3D and 4D visualization: Enhancing scope definition, stakeholder engagement, and decision making to establish the appropriate project quality.
  • Model-based analysis: Using BIM-based data and digital analytical tools to understand project energy consumption, structural performance, cost estimates and other inferential reasoning from the design while it is underway.
  • 4D modeling: Coordinating construction and increasing the reliability of schedules.
  • Fabrication from 3D models: Resulting in elimination of shop drawings; better tolerance, lead time, and safety; and faster field assembly.
  • Model-based bills of materials: Providing faster, more accurate takeoffs for cost estimating, energy analysis, etc. and integrating supply chain information from the IMS

The advantages of BIM and VDC can be highly leveraged in an IPD process to optimize the overall building process by shifting the design effort at the beginning where cost of design change is lower (see below).

BIM and Strategic Sourcing

BIM can also be a central component of Strategic Sourcing and Standardization PDCA Cycle. As the Prototype design is released, Trade Partners complete the detailed engineering and design work for exteriors, interiors, and Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) plans and update BIM.  The Lean Supply Chain and BIM teams will manage the BIM-Plex synchronization to ensure all design elements have an identification label which is constantly linked to its Plex corresponding part/design element. Following is a screen shot of the Plex standardization window.




Mo Haidar & Dan Fauchier discuss "BIM: what is possible?" "Hollywood BIM" "Design charrettes"

"Professor Colin Milberg and Mo Haidar discuss "Workflow in BIM"

"Stan Simmons & Mo Haidar discuss "BIM tools to enhance visualization"


CLICK HERE to link to the BIM Forum website. The BIMForum is the multi-association (AGC, CMAA, AIA, etc.) task force on Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIMForum's 1500+ members meet 3 times a year at various locations across the country collaborate online via the discussion forums.

At the June 2010 meeting of the BIM Forum in Kansas City, Mo Haidar and Dan Fauchier presented a program on the interplay between BIM and Lean. Contact us if you are interested in exploring the use of this presentation.