"Will you use BIM when designing our new house? Or is that only for big buildings?"
Answer from Ross Sanders
Good evening, Henry!
What an interesting question! We hear a lot about BIM, or Building Information Modeling, in the design & construction industries these days, so let’s take a quick look at what it is and how it can benefit a project. In its pure form, BIM is used mainly for large and/or complex projects requiring a high degree of coordination before construction. For example: high tech projects, high-rise buildings, complex industrial campuses and other projects involving multiple disciplines including but not limited to architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, data/information systems, landscape design, security and more. When used this way BIM usually revolves around a single, shared project file, often a 3D model, which incorporates information from all of the involved disciplines and allows for a high level of coordination. It gives all involved the ability to check for errors, inconsistencies, or overlap and can show how changes to one aspect of the building will affect the rest of the building and its systems.
On a more basic level, BIM can be as simple as incorporating material and system information into a set of drawings or 3D models to help identify quantities of materials needed. I use the simple but powerful program SketchUp this way. By assigning real world materials to specific materials in my 3D model, I can not only produce accurate renderings but also generate lists of materials needed to complete the project such as: linear feet of wood flooring, square yards of carpet, square feet of paint, number of doors, ect. If the model is highly accurate, the list of materials can be extremely accurate. This approach has worked well for me on exterior re-siding projects, where the contractor can look at my model and know exactly how many materials he will need to purchase. This approach can also help you, as the homeowner, more accurately estimate your remodel costs by itemizing your materials prior to construction.