People are changing the way they live. Smart home technology and energy-efficient systems are becoming the standard - and sometimes even a requirement to be competitive in today’s rental and housing market. New technology like remote control of climate, security, entertainment, and lighting are all becoming standard. To keep up with these systems without compromising rentable square footage, every square inch must count. Walls are not getting any thicker and ceilings aren’t getting any lower, so the expectation is that we design and construct systems that can fit within the traditional allotted spaces for these elements. This is where construction technology can help.
The nature of multifamily design is that a unit can be repeated in modules. And anytime there is repetition, there is an opportunity to maximize efficiency. However, with this repeatable design you also introduce the opportunity for “repeatable mistakes.” For example, if an electrician were to forget to account for the thickness of a finished floor assembly, all outlets “installed at 18” above finished floor” could potentially need to be adjusted. Or if a dimension string were overridden to make a layout look code compliant on paper, but actual conditions could not accommodate, you could end up needing to redesign and re-permit a space causing delays to your project schedule.
With construction technology like BIM and Reality Capture, these types of mistakes can be easily avoided. Here are 3 workflows to incorporate into your multifamily housing project which can ultimately save you time and money.
1. Utilize Reality Capture to Verify your Development
Whether you are scanning an existing building using a LIDAR scanner or capturing photography of a cleared job site via aerial drone footage, reality capture can be beneficial to your multifamily housing project in a number of ways.
For existing retrofit projects, you can utilize LIDAR scanners to verify the building footprint and accurately capture square footage take offs. In leasing agreements, rent is typically determined on a per square foot basis. If your landlord is charging you $100/SF over a 30 year term, even a square footage error of ~10 SF can equate to thousands of dollars lost. In addition, LIDAR scans can help your design team to ensure that existing conditions such as slab to slab heights, column and riser locations are all accounted for.
For new construction projects, an aerial drone survey can also go a long way in helping your design team to accurately map and visualize your job site. For example, this information can be used to maximize your job site by accounting for zoning requirements and set back lines. You could also use your survey as background information for conducting test fits during due diligence to ensure you are making the best deal possible.
2. Utilize BIM to Coordinate your Multifamily Housing Project
Once you have confirmed that you are basing your design off of accurate background information through reality capture, you can start to use your BIM to proactively coordinate systems before construction even starts. Multifamily housing projects require adherence to strict building codes, including ADA accessibility. But at the same time, developers need to maximize layouts in order to be profitable. This inevitably creates opportunities for layout busts and pinch points which can be avoided with proper planning.
By utilizing BIM during the design process, you are spatially coordinating elements in a way that traditional 2D methods cannot account for. For residential design, we must carefully coordinate all systems to avoid unnecessary risers and low ceilings. This is challenging for a number of reasons including the following:
- New smart home technology and energy efficient systems all take up additional space above ceilings and within walls; but contractors are simply asked to more efficiently install these systems instead of increasing the allotted space.
- Today’s housing aesthetic calls for high ceilings and open layouts, making coordination even more challenging.
- MEP systems for multifamily housing projects can be particularly complex due to the standalone nature of each unit. While each unit must operate independently, there may be opportunities to share vertical riser space for example in order to maximize square footage.
During design and coordination, elements and their required clearance spaces should be modeled with realistic dimensions to allow for meaningful “clash detection.”As you move into construction, consider incorporating a workflow to ensure that all of that hard work is not lost in the translation from digital to physical.
3. Utilize BIM Centric Reality Capture Analysis to Maintain Project Schedule and Quality
In multifamily construction, it is common for units to be pre sold before construction is completed or sometimes even started! People plan their lives around their homes being ready at an agreed upon time which means that schedules are paramount.
Closely monitoring construction progress against the planned schedule can be time consuming and inaccurate using traditional methods, but by pairing your BIM and Reality capture, you can gain meaningful insights and be alerted to project delays in time to make corrections. Avvir Progress offers developers and their general contractors a platform for managing large, complex multifamily housing projects. We utilize all of the embedded data from your BIM to accurately quantify progress by comparing your BIM to your reality capture and automatically status-ing which elements have been built.
In addition, you can utilize your existing BIM and reality capture program to analyze whether or not elements have been installed in the correct location. For example, in multifamily construction, sleeve locations determine where vertical risers will be installed, and if located improperly, could impact layouts. Manually reviewing these datasets is time consuming and error prone, but with Avvir you can automatically determine if elements have deviated from their intended locations based on the BIM.
In summary, BIM, Reality Capture, and automated Reality Capture analysis are all helpful tools for ensuring the success of your multifamily housing project. Even after construction is completed, there are benefits to maintaining these datasets. For example, your BIM can serve as the single source of truth for monitoring ongoing maintenance tasks like changing out filters or even ordering light bulbs. When questions arise about square footage or your portfolio of spaces, BIMs can be utilized too quickly and accurately provide answers. We can even use reality capture like LIDAR scans to determine if a building has maintained its structural integrity, or if sagging has occurred over the years.
Over the course of our lifetime, we will all spend a significant portion inside of our homes. These places are an investment in our well being and should be utilizing the latest and greatest tools before, during, and after construction to ensure the highest quality possible.