Wednesday, September 2, 2009

BIM standards for Owners

In my last post I discussed an owner looking at the BIM deliverable and having an issue with the software they were going to purchase to manage this model after completion. Many owners are looking at BIM right now and wondering about learning and managing the software tools necessary for BIM. We have even had owners say that buying or using Revit would make them architects and they do not want to become that. So, how do owners interact with the model and what do owners need to do? There are a number of activities that can assist building owners and managers that involve the BIM process. (Note I said process not software) First owners need to understand the process, deliverable and tools. After they understand much of that, they need to create a BIM standard. Many owners have begun this process (See list below) and have published some good but early BIM standards. These standards set both the design and construction processes as well as the final deliverable for the model and data. Many of these owners based these standards on their pilot BIM projects and set standards based on what worked for them and left out what did not work. Owners may not ever take over control of an entire model per say, but may require data to be delivered in a specified manner like COBIE or a format that works with the software they intend to use for management. This may even be 2D CAD with embedded data from the model. COBIE has begun to deal with the problem of owners receiving loads of data from the AEC team at the end of the project. They get all this paper and it takes months or years to sift through, file and update maintenance systems for the new air handler that is different than the previous model. Because of this set of tasks, many owners never get this completed and maintenance lags, equipment fails and need to be replaced. Using the model can assist in a couple of ways. First the data a model contains is much better than we were putting in our CAD drawings. Plus most owners did not have a method to extract the data from CAD because it is hard. BIM can create simple spreadsheet files of DATA that owners can use, or more complex databases for integration into existing systems. BIM also allows users to explore the building in 3D as a single unit rather than flip through drawings, layers and files. Locating the main trunk line to reset an air senor is much faster and easier with BIM. Plus they have a complete inventory of the building ready for reporting to agencies and future designers and contractors. However BIM models are also large and complex animals. How does an owner understand what is there and how accurate the information is? They all need to be using a BIM checking software like Solibri or Navisworks to get reports to determine the accuracy of the data. Accepting a BIM model without checking will just open them to problems later either with remodels or maintenance. Owners should be asking for interim submittals where they check the models for compliance to both their standard and accuracy.

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