Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become an industry standard on complex construction projects. As more Construction owners reap the benefits of BIM, more projects add a modeling component. While Architects grab Revit, the complexities feel insurmountable, especially for smaller contractors in the electrical and mechanical trades. An investment of 6-18 months and $80-100,000 is not uncommon to hear. So what is a smaller subcontractor to do?
Get Educated on BIM
The Associated General Contractors of America has an excellent publication “The Contractor’s Guide to BIM” that is a great place to start. Understanding the benefits to the Owner, Architect, Engineer, and subcontractor will make you more comfortable in the design and modeling process. It will keep you in sync with the jargon and help you see the benefits for marketing your firm.
Your local universities also offer training and educational programs as do the think tanks of the construction industry. The Alliance for Construction Excellence and the Construction Users Roundtable are excellent places to tap expertise, spot trends and peer into what the future holds.
Consider Outsourcing while You’re Learning BIM
With the economy still struggling, smaller firms that are already cash strapped will have to wait to train or hire a BIM espert for their firm. Doing a Google search for BIM outsourcing typically returns results outside your local area as the big firms all vie for Search Rank. You may want to ask your network connections, as many business who started in drafting and design have made substantial investments to offer BIM services to specialty contractors. In Arizona, my friend Donna Overton, owner of Draftek has done exactly that, offering electrical, mechanical, piping and fire protection modeling services. Watch this short video on the NAU Skydome work they delivered [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlZDsNQSeMM]
and you’ll realize that outsourcing BIM is certainly a viable solution. Finding providers nearby also keeps your local economy humming.
Hiring BIM Talent is Quicker than Learning from Scratch
If you want productivity in BIM, hiring for experience is certainly quicker and easier to attain success and brand your new BIM department, albeit more costly. However, recent college grads are eager to learn and are great at augmenting a BIM department. Then you can mold your own model of a BIM professional without any “bad habit” baggage. Finding the right candidate and justifying a full-time BIM position will require a business development strategy to keep the BIM department busy.
Know Your Project Niches that Best Suit Your Strengths
Just because you have hired a BIM staffer shouldn’t mean you go out only bidding projects with BIM requirements. Business must always play to their strengths so the bulk of you projects should still be bid in the areas where you hold the most expertise. You wouldn’t bid a nuclear power plant if you never worked on any power plant before. Neither would you chase a GSA or other federal project without some experience in municipality or state work. Your BIM guy or gal should will be excited to work on more diverse projects that showcase their talents so BIM dry runs, where you are vying for the short list may help separate you from competitors. Remember to incorporate the technology in your presentations and practice the pitch.
BIM also Leads to other Technology
Augmented Reality, Laser Scanning, Immersive Environments and Digital Fabrication all are an extension of BIM. Just last week the Phoenix Revit Users Group had Jim Balding, founder and CEO of the Ant Group speak about where the new technologies are heading. Construction technology has just a short sprint left to a mobile, augmented future.
Don’t let BIM stop you from bidding. Tap into the expertise available and plan for your future. For some it may be outsourcing, for others it will be a BIM department. Just never stop learning as missed opportunities rarely resurface.
What questions do you have on BIM outsourcing and bidding do you have? I’ll tap my experts for the answers if I get stumped.