Avvir Academy
March 24, 2022

BIM Adoption for General Contractors

Before diving into how BIM adoption for the General Contractor (GC) is crucial, it's important to understand the typical role a General Contractor plays in a construction project. We can better understand this role by looking at the nature of the contract and the project delivery method chosen to execute. Depending on the project delivery method and contracting structure, a GC and its subcontractors will have varying levels of involvement in authoring the BIM.

Project Delivery Methods 

Project Delivery is an extensive process that includes three phases (planning, design, and construction) required to execute and finish a facility, building, or other project structures. Therefore, one of the owners' fundamental decisions while developing their acquisition strategy is to select the project delivery method that works for them.

Construction Management at Risk (CMR) – This delivery method involves a commitment to project delivery within a well-defined schedule and price, either a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) or fixed lump sum. The CMR provides critical input to the owner during the design phase and becomes the general contractor during the construction phase.

Design-Bid-Build – The traditional and more common project delivery method in the U.S., which usually includes three phases of the project: 

  1. The Design phase requires the services of a designer who will be the "designer of record" for the project;
  2. The Bid phase, when the contractor is awarded; 
  3. The Build or construction phase is when a chosen contractor builds the project. This sequence usually leads to a fixed-price or sealed bid contract. 

Design-Build – This project delivery method includes one entity (design-builder) and a single contract with the owner to provide AEC design and construction services.

Multi-Prime – Very similar to the design-bid-build project delivery method and its three project phases, the MP includes the owner contracting directly with multiple trade contractors for designated and specific work elements, rather than a single prime or general contractor.

One of the most critical decisions made by every owner embarking on a construction project is to determine the project delivery method. Choosing the best plan for any project must start with a good understanding of available choices. 

Building Owners and their reps must have a firm understanding of the impacts of each decision because the delivery method forms when parties get engaged; it influences the choices of contractual relationships; it affects ownership and implications of changes and modification of project costs. In addition, there is always a minimum of three parties involved in all delivery systems: owner, designer, and contractor. Therefore, selecting a delivery method that best fits the owner's unique needs and project requirements is essential. 

Many project considerations are fundamental to selecting the best delivery method. These considerations can include a realistic budget, a reasonable performance schedule, a responsive and quality design process, a risk assessment and allocation among parties, and recognizing the level of expertise within the owner's team.

What's the General Contractor's Role on a Project? 

General Contractors oversee the progress and completion of the project. The GC's role varies based on the project's complexity, type, and scale. As projects increase in scale, the part of the GC becomes more complicated.

GC key-value stream: 

“Given all of this responsibility, a general contractor should absolutely use technology to streamline their workflows and enable greater efficiency throughout the project. BIM Technology can be an asset to your project if managed correctly and intentionally.” – Caity Taylor, Senior Solutions Engineer at Avvir. 

How BIM helps General Contractors during each phase of the project. 

BIM has been at the center of the AEC Industry for the last decade. Yet, there are many misunderstandings regarding its technology/process and usage. For example, a prevalent misconception is that BIM is merely a technology, tool, or 3D project design. However, BIM is a process of creating a virtual representation of physical and functional characteristics.

Therefore, its benefits are multifaceted and include the representation of the project, managing all the information about a project, and producing the output - the model. 

BIM is an intelligent, 3D model-based process that enables General Contractors to become more accurate, efficient, and for projects to become more profitable. As a result of many causes, BIM is steadily becoming a standard in the AEC industry.

There's tremendous research demonstrating how BIM is helping GCs manage projects more efficiently. However, evaluating the value stream BIM provides General Contractors is fascinating when reviewing the phases of a project: Preconstruction, Construction, and Post-Construction.

Phase I: Preconstruction

During preconstruction, a GC might have the opportunity to work closely with the client. The owner or project rep and designers can convey their expectations directly to the contractor using BIM, making room for accurate cost estimates and project schedules. In this phase, BIM provides a visual representation to the contractors helping them manage project risks by identifying design flaws and reducing expenses and rework.

Phase 2: Construction 

It's time to build with the GC responsible for overall execution. BIM provides data that can help assign tasks efficiently using the model and track the project's progress by updating the model. BIM can be linked to the project's schedule while recording labor productivity information to bring complete transparency. Any changes made in the [federated] model are visible and available to the stakeholders to foster better collaboration between the contractor and other project teams.

Manage the entire construction process with greater ease using BIM [and Avvir]. 

So whether it's design, project planning, or the MEP team–they will work in a cohesive Common Data Environment, helping you manage and supervise individual responsibilities with greater ease because now you can visualize both holistically and on the detail level.

"General Contractors depend heavily on cumbersome paperwork to communicate and refer to critical responsibilities in the absence of BIM. Leveraging an updated BIM model will help the team of subcontractors get access to information quickly; simultaneously, they can also provide inputs to communicate constructability issues."

Improved Change Orders Management: 2D-based take-off solutions are not ideal for managing the change orders as they can't automatically detect modifications, additions, or any subtraction. It's near impossible for contractors to predict Change Orders, but COs can affect the entire project on many levels - profitability, schedule delays, and lawsuits if the process is flawed. It becomes imperative because one delayed issue can have several ripple effects on other contractors and work schedules to accommodate a change order.

General Contractor's leverage BIM to generate better insights for effective control on any change as BIM presents changes visually, including associated quantities. Leveraging BIM GC's audit quantity variances, validate change orders, verify cost submittals by subcontractors, etc., with the help of BIM. General Contractors using Avvir have complete knowledge of your Build with the Avvir Reality Analysis Platform. 

With the Avvir Reality Analysis Platform, you can take corrective action in the field, keep your schedule up-to-date, verify your subcontractors' payment application, or update your BIM to reflect as-built conditions. Avvir helps GCs and Owners stay on top of construction and minimize foreseeable mistakes. The tools capture issues attributed to the responsible party, reducing investigation time, and keeping the schedule on track becomes more manageable because everyone is working with one federated common data environment.

The design team produces deliverables for the planning team, which updates deliverables for the subs and suppliers. Ideally, all constructability issues are resolved when the General Contractor shares the BIM model across the stakeholder teams and not just on the jobsite. Hence, many otherwise vacated labor hours are already eliminated from the schedule from the outset. 

The Job Site and Project Managers now have a single source and tool to supervise day-to-day duties to eliminate time interpreting 2D maps or complex CAD structures. In addition, subcontractors are already briefed with 3D, time-sensitive models and the tasks they are responsible for. This lends greater control to the managers accountable for utilizing labor hours.

Phase 3: Post Construction

Once the structure or building is operational, the GC-managed project achieves its asset management stage and is ready for handoff. Again, BIM helps a general contractor finish this stage smoothly:

Facility Management (BIM 7D): With the help of the seventh dimension, i.e., Facility Management in BIM, General Contractors can lay briefs for the asset management and operations, which will take over responsibility for post-construction. The BIM model includes detailed information about building components, product information, model numbers, etc.  

In addition, general contractors lay out a brief about new installations, modifications, maintenance, repairs, and all parts of the facility. Lastly, lifecycle data provides the base for cost forecasts associated with upgrades and improvements.

Quality Verification and Close-Out: Since the end goal and list of deliverables are tangibly clear from day one. It becomes elementary for the general contractor project managers to go through their checklist from the contract tender and ensure that the project has reached its designated state of completion. Leveraging BIM, the close-out process becomes substantially easier. Suppose the O&M contract is already awarded with other tenders. In that case, the construction team can be involved in understanding the development and scope of the project right from the early phases of the project.

Summary

Building Information Model (BIM) uses a 3D visual representation to plan, design, and collaborate with different project teams during the construction project lifecycle. GCs are adopting BIM to facilitate them to deliver projects faster and better. As a result, the building information modeling (BIM) market was valued at $5.4 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $10.7 billion by 2026.

BIM adoption is continuing to gain significant traction in the AEC industry, but tools like Avvir help enhance the use of BIM...... It provides General Contractor the means to efficiently execute and manage building projects with increased quality, productivity, profitability, efficiency, and safety. Hence, General contractors must adopt BIM sooner for their projects.

3 Tips for using BIM as a Database throughout the Project Lifecycle

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