BIM is a relatively new technology. That explains why there are still certain lingering misconceptions as to what BIM actually is. Many people in the industry think that BIM is just a piece of software or that it only has to do with 3D design. While 3D models are certainly at the core of BIM, it goes way beyond that. Far from being mere software, BIM is a comprehensive process for creating, managing, and using the entirety of the data about a specific project. That process culminates in output referred to as a Building Information Model, which includes the digital parameters for every aspect of the physical project. Another common misconception about BIM is that it is only useful during the design and pre-construction stages. In reality, BIM can be hugely advantageous throughout the project lifecycle, including post-construction.
BIM technology makes it possible to visualize the entire project before construction has even begun. 3D visualizations and space-use simulations allow both AEC professionals and their clients to explore different alternatives and agree on a common vision early on. That minimizes the likelihood of having to make time-consuming and expensive changes once the construction is underway.
BIM can also be used for model-based cost estimation or 5D BIM. There are tools available to automate the cost estimation process early in the planning stage, helping save both time and expenses. Architects can now calculate future expenses with much greater accuracy. These include anything from the costs of materials and prefabricated or modular elements to labor and shipping costs and beyond. What’s more, BIM software can help companies optimize their expenses by comparing the cost-effectiveness of different materials, suggesting the best timing to purchase materials at a low market price, and weighing the costs of prefabrication against those of building on-site.