By Rosanne Siegal, LEED AP, Technical Solutions Engineer, Autodesk
As a small design firm, saving time and money is a must – so that more time can be spent on designing, promoting the business and of course, finding new clients. Fortunately, tools are available that help designers save on both counts.
At many small firms, designers and principals alike are frequently under the impression that a powerful design tool like BIM is only meant for large firms, with large budgets and lots of spare time – but this is not the case. In fact, more often than not, BIM actually helps designers save overall project time, which translates into being able to spend more time on design, while producing more accurate, higher quality work that wows clients.
Additionally, many small firms are unaware of 3D modeling resources available which can also save valuable design time: ready-made online BIM content that they can drop into their BIM designs, like Autodesk Seek.
Here are top ways BIM can save you time and money.
1. Detect problems early
To begin, BIM is a process that facilitates the design of most physical aspects of a building using intelligent 3D modeling, which allows collaborators across industries – architecture, engineering an construction - to access information about the building elements. The virtual building model is an exact replica of what is to be actually built.
This process, which includes real-time input and collaboration, allows for object clashes to be detected early on, and errors resolved during the design stage, before breaking ground. In this way, using BIM can prevent delays and save budget.
2. Design accuracy
BIM also ensures designs are more accurate, which can save your firm time and money in the construction documentation and construction administration phases of the project. One way BIM achieves this is by calculating physical geometries, ensuring that architectural designs are viable in the real world from the start. Some design firms are also inviting engineers and contractors earlier in the design process, thus improving design accuracy by allowing multiple disciplines to work out kinks in design that would otherwise not be found until construction is underway.
BIM can simulate a variety of environmental scenarios that test building attributes, which in turn can affect design decisions. Some common simulations run within the BIM model are day lighting analysis, building energy analysis, structural loads and analysis, and heating and cooling loads on the building. Using BIM means that designs leaving your office are well though through designs, ready for the contractor to use in bidding and perhaps even construction, without massive amounts of rework.
“Not only can we sell to the client looking for a new design, but we can also up-sell the many different production exports Revit has to offer. We find we find many opportunities in providing other deliverables.” --Philip Noland, Noland Design Studio
3. Grow the business
Using BIM, your firm can offer new services that would allow you to generate more business from existing clientele, without having to bring on additional staff or consultants in order to measure value and assess benefits.
Philip Noland, of Noland Design Studio, notes how BIM’s 3D visualizations are producing new opportunities for his firm: “Not only can we sell to the client looking for a new design, but we can also up-sell the many different production exports Revit has to offer. If the client is hiring our company for a 3D visualization, for example, they may also be interested in floor plans for marketing and elevation studies for client meetings. Even though Revit is great at being a 3D product, we find many opportunities in providing other deliverables.”
4. Cloud rendering
A service offering validating instant ROI in BIM are the rendering capabilities built right into the BIM software. For reference, we’ll talk about Revit LT, which is a simplified, lower-cost BIM tool for small firms, that helps you produce high-quality 3D architectural designs and documentation in a coordinated, model-based environment. As you design your floor plans, the entire building is built in 3D as you work, leaving you ready to render space with a click of a button. Images like this are what sell the concept of a design to a building owner and help you get sign off to move forward with a project. Firms can save by creating their own photorealistic renderings rather than outsourcing them.
5. Easy project implementation and maintenance
One of the largest concerns with implementing new technology at small firms is executing the implementation. Content creation and standards alone are a daunting task. Autodesk has taken the worry of building and maintaining content out of the mix. Autodesk Seek provides a free and fully stocked library of real manufacturer architectural, MEP, interior design and structural elements for you to design with.
Based on strict graphic and operational guidelines, manufacturer based Revit content from will insert directly into your building models to create renderings, run energy analysis, quantity take-offs and create accurate and viable drawings based on real-world building products. This not only provides your client with accurate drawings and analysis, but also saves your company and all others involved in the design and building process a more streamlined and efficient way to specify and design
The benefits of BIM go far above saving time and money. On top of maintaining your established clientele, implementing BIM will further your brand image by widening the pool of clientele, protect your reputation by delivering accurate drawings and allow your company to accelerate into the future by providing additional services with minimal investment.