Building Information Modelling – or BIM – creates a virtual prototype of projects, so everyone has complete visibility of a space, right down to the smallest details.
Using BIM collaborative software provides a holistic opportunity to coordinate work packages through an accurate 3D model world and importantly, allows designs teams to catch unforeseen issues before site.
Architects, engineers and construction firms have been using BIM for years to better understand every element in a design. Yet - despite the overwhelming benefits - it remains relatively new for the fit-out sector.
At Portview, we use models to gather and share information from the very start of projects, so as designs evolve, all stakeholders are kept informed and on the same page.
By taking a model already developed at construction or earlier design stage, and collaboratively developing this through to finishing stages, contractors can foresee challenges to ensure the entire fit-out process runs smoothly from start to finish. This journey allows clients a more immersive experience to understand different ways they can use their space. For example, we used it to help Samsung create a versatile experience zone that adapts to its changing needs, and we are currently using it on a large university project at the University of the Arts London to collaborate with the other trade packages.
Here’s why project managers should consider integrating BIM into their fit-outs and the benefits they can expect to see:
1. Improved collaboration and communication
BIM makes it easier to share designs, collaborate and manage version control compared to paper or PDF drawing sets. Using cloud technology, different teams can work together, from those in the office to those in the workshop and on-site. Everyone can immediately see changes others have made and work together to coordinate planning.
With BIM, the data is transparent. It removes jargon and uses 3D visualisation, which is much easier for everyone to digest. When everyone has visibility and understands each component and how they interconnect with others in the design, it’s much easier to communicate ideas, concerns and develop solutions.
2. Reduced client risk
With early clash detection at the model stage, BIM avoids time and money in sorting things out on site. Accuracy is improved and challenges are solved early on. This accuracy minimises the chance of overall variations and reduces tender risk premiums and lowers insurance costs.
3. Efficient planning and use
BIM acts as a virtual world. It lets clients visualise the space to make their decisions confidently. For our teams, it provides a complete overview of the project so that we can plan everything down to the millimetre. Armed with this data, project teams can relay accurate estimates, so the prefabrication stage runs smoothly and on budget. BIM also helps clients plan how they use the space. Contractors can create a complete set of maintenance instructions for the client team to use throughout the building's lifecycle.
4. Improved scheduling
Fit-out has some of the tightest deadlines in the industry and BIM gives you the best chance of finishing projects on time or even early. With greater emphasis on the collaborative upfront modelling stage, BIM gives you more foresight to schedule tasks while plans evolve. Not only that, but it solves the communication stumbling blocks that often cause delays. Everyone has access to the plans and is involved throughout the process, meaning you can deal with issues before reaching the site.
Having a real-time model allows for a level of predictability that just hasn’t been possible before in the dynamic fit-out sector. BIM creates robust, accurate, transparent and digestible information, and provides access to data from previous design stages to help bring ideas along. When everyone can see the reality of a design, it’s easier to spot elements that can be refined and detect potential issues before they become a problem. It’s also easier to predict costs and timeframes to meet all stakeholders’ targets.
As a relatively new addition to the world of fit-outs, BIM carries a high perceived cost. But it’s an investment. By frontloading the design process and the costs associated with it, clients can reduce their spend in the long run. This is because BIM can help to build robust workflows that work with supply chains to avoid duplication, reworks and the need for more materials. You can also adapt designs much earlier in the fit-out when it’s easiest and more cost-effective to do so.
Getting the most out of BIM for your projects
Since bringing BIM in-house, we’ve found that working this way is most effective at keeping everyone informed and onboard as projects evolve. Based on our experience, here are our tips on how to benefit the most when using BIM.
1. Engage early: one of the main benefits of using BIM is solving problems early in the fit-out process. We encourage our clients to have a number of discussions with us in the beginning, so we can extract as much information as possible and take ideas and make them a reality.
2. Get the right people in the room: BIM enlightens issues to all, so it’s vital that decision-makers are involved. We aim to take clients along the design journey to make sure there are no surprises during delivery.
3. Have open and honest conversations: With BIM, you can see the substance and the style of a fit-out. Often, it’s not until you see the reality that you know what you really want. Portview’s model-first process creates an early opportunity to play around with ideas and reject those that aren’t working to find the solution that suits everyone.
4. Stay in communication: BIM aids collaboration, but it’s important that you keep everyone talking too. It’s best not to presume that someone has seen a change and is working on it, and instead use the oversight that BIM provides to form the foundations of your discussions.
Read how BIM is benefitting from a more aligned approach to data. How to better exploit data in projects.