Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

BIM and the Evolution of Drafting

Recently, I talked with a major architectural firm about their use of building information modeling. To them, BIM is just another advance of communications and drawings. I can relate.

When I was in college, everybody used pencils. The quality of your lines on the drawings was most important. Then we moved to ink to give them more clarity. Then Auto Cad. We are now on AutoCAD 2012 v. 18.2 which means there have been 26 releases of the software.

As a company, we’ve advanced to the next level of customer-service centered modeling: BIM.

BIM is not a specific piece of software but a group of programs used together to build a data rich model. Stewart Perry uses software from AutoDesk who also own AutoCAD, so BIM is really just an extension of what we have been doing continuing to advance efficient ways of communicating. We use the following:

  • Autodesk Revit Architecture for structure and MEP for modeling
  • Autodesk Navisworks Manage for clash detection and presentation
  • Autodesk Navisworks Freedom for jobsite uses of BIM
  • Autodesk Quantity Takeoff for estimate and budgeting
  • Autodesk Buzzsaw for file management and transfers
  • Microsoft Project for scheduling

BIM takes the lines once drawn by hand on paper with rulers and pencils that evolved into lines on a computer screen created in drafting software. Architects, contractors and owners now have the ability to give meaning to the lines on the screen.

We can assign properties to items in a model that are quantifiable.

A line that used to represent a wall now can show a visual 3D representation of the wall, include information on stud spacing, fire rating and material choices, that can be accessed by those involved in the project.

Communication between the concept in the architect’s head and the reality of the end product has been a source of confusion, delay, and lawsuits. Now the architect can provide more information about the design than ever before. We couldn’t be more pleased.

As a company, we are out of the infancy stages of BIM. We have hired a BIM manager, and are using the technology on three of our projects:

  • Shoppes of Madison – Madison, AL
  • Brookwood Village renovations – Birmingham, AL
  • Redstone Gateway at Redstone Arsenal- Huntsville, AL
  • US Steel’s new headquarter – Birmingham, AL

Has your company started working with BIM? Have you been successful in implementation?

Merrill Stewart Jr.

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