Written By: Travis Justice/MCL Construction
First of all, let me say that MCL Construction's investment into BIM and other technologies is the key to the firm's continued growth and success. I know this because of the information gathered at the most recent BIM Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, in late October.
Can you build without BIM? You bet. Older methods of construction, coordination, and collaboration still work and may be the right fit for a lot of smaller projects. However, after listening to presentation after presentation for two straight days, and seeing it firsthand on our own projects, I have concluded that the only way to build bigger, better, and give the quality and value our clients demand and deserve is with technology and innovation. BIM is no longer a buzzword; it is the standard for which all substantial sized projects will be designed, constructed, and turned over to the owner. Eventually, smaller projects are going to be managed the same way.
Everybody says they can "do" BIM, but buyer beware! There is a fine line between what a lot of our competitors say they can do compared to what they can deliver. I'm always looking for feedback from our building partners, finding out what we do well, what we can improve on, and find better ways to collaborate. I was pleased, but also a little surprised when I asked a local architect about our BIM team and services. He said MCL Construction is doing things with BIM and coordination that no other company in Omaha is doing. Could this architect be telling me this because we were having a good steak for dinner? Yes, but I didn't get that feeling. Why? The proof was in the finished product, over 100,000 total square feet completed two weeks ahead of schedule.
Collaboration is the key to success on a BIM project. The earlier the owner, architect, general contractor, and trade partners are engaged, the more successful a project becomes. The BIM Forum presentations in Atlanta talked about the value of forming the "team" first, then start the design, preconstruction, and finally, construction where every phase is seamless to the next. You will get no argument from us. The examples they gave were from two full-service firms that have architecture and construction under one roof, and the other was from a team that has been working together for over 15 years. It's easy to tell a good story when you are set up for success in advance.
However, what the BIM Forum failed to talk about was how to get everyone on the same page if you aren't a one-stop shop or you don’t have a long-term relationship. More times than not, this is how the process takes place: the owner wants to build a new project; owner hires the architect; architect starts to design and uses historical data to set the project budget and continues to create. By this time in the project, the BIM process is inefficient, and its value lessened.
Our goal is to provide the owner and our building partners with the maximum amount of data and information that leads to increased efficiencies in the design and construction process that, in the end, provides cost savings, value, and quality. The way we do this is to change the process slightly, and it would look like this: owner wants to build a new project; owner hires architect and construction manager (preferably MCL Construction) at the same time; Design Assist and construction coordination start with trade partners; the project gets built.
In the old Design-Bid-Build delivery method, there could be a combative relationship between the architect and the builder. That delivery method is archaic and leads to delays, significant change orders, and trust issues.
Collaboration with BIM leads to Integrated Project Delivery or a Design Assist process that is holistic and efficient. For BIM to work to its fullest capacity, the project team must be engaged before design starts. Will this change in thinking happen over night? Probably not. However, MCL Construction is prepared for the future by building with the best tools and technology in the industry.
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