Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

BIM, Reaching Its Potential

We are just finishing our first total BIM designed project, a 2-story, 130,000 sf building. Our experience has taught us that BIM is:

  • An excellent design tool. Using 3-D modeling allows the customer to understand the project much more efficiently than flat plans.
  • A way to bridge communication gaps. Consultants, contractors, subcontractors and material vendors have one venue for exchanging information.
  • An early detector of conflicts. Finding potential problems on the front end allows us to be a better manager of cost, reducing change orders and keeping two objects from trying to occupy the same space.
  • A valuable project handover tool. BIM takes the place of typical maintenance manuals, warranty information and other documents. All this information can be stored in a comprehensive electronic system, which is easily retrievable.

We’re also learning that if BIM is confined to only pre-construction and design, the real long term cost savings will not be achieved. The true benefit of BIM comes from the long term wins, post-construction.

The model should be maintained and updated after completion, extending spokes out to the various functions of building operations. Financial and property control systems should  be linked to this hub, allowing for better property management efficiencies, such as procurement and maintenance. The ideal scenario is a flow of information back and forth throughout the life of the job.

When a project management system has been properly utilized, all project stakeholders can communicate real-time post construction. This will facilitate full access for quick and speedy resolution of the building’s program items using the BIM data. It’s also a great customer relationship tool.

While we have only scratched the surface on our learning curve, we are confident that good practices utilizing BIM will lead to greater value for our customers long term. What experience have you had with BIM? Is it working for you and your customers? 


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.