BIM: A House Builder’s Perspective
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the process of a building collaboratively using one coherent system of computer generated models rather that as separate sets of drawings. It offers enormous gain and time saving, much greater accuracy in estimation and the avoidance of error, alterations and rework due to information loss.
Thus, adopting BIM involves much more than simply changing the software used. To achieve all the benefits of BIM, everyone in the architecture, engineering and construction industries have to learn to work in fundamentally new ways. BIM is a whole new paradigm.
We spoke to Gary Markham, the Group CAD Manager for Redrow Homes about how they use BIM and the benefits of BIM to house builders.
Gary manages the CAD software across all 14 divisions of Redrow along with almost 200 CAD users. With over 15 years of experience in Redrow’s Group Design & Technical department, Gary was able to bring expert technical know-how into this position.
When did Redrow first start BIM?
In 2012 we were tasked to look for ways to deliver improved efficiency. We had been pushed to use Autodesk Revit for many years but, in 2012, we had a bit more time and we went for it. We soon realised it had a lot more potential and started to explore its BIM element. We used it initially, not as a piece of 3D designing software, but as a tool for scheduling quantities from the 3D model. So now, rather than sending house type designs on to our Group Commercial Team and expecting our Quantity Surveyors to schedule from scratch, we are able to use this piece of software to provide scheduled quantities directly.
We can show how many bricks, how much mortar and how much timber is required in a building, even down to the level of how many metre lengths of floor tape is required to seal the floor decking together. So that’s where it started and it’s now becoming our first question: what can the 3D model do for us?
How has BIM been rolled out at Redrow?
It has been rolled out initially in headquarters with our Group Design & Technical team, as it is here that we do all of our standard designs. The take offs are then done by Group Commercial. The divisions receiving those take offs will initially not be aware of any significant difference but in time they will see the value of the consistency in the information that BIM is delivering to them. It’s a slow process rolling BIM out at a divisional level but we are just on the cusp of that process at present.
What do you see as the benefits to house builders in general with BIM?
One of the major benefits to house builders is consistency. We are building standard products going through standard systems and once we implement a new detail we want that to be implemented exactly the same in other house types. With BIM we get this consistent information flow raising the quality of our output which then improves the build and improves designs.
I think another big thing is it’s saving in time. We used to design a full house pack on CAD in two weeks, then we would go out to other external suppliers like Keystone for their input.
With Revit we can now design a like-for-like full house pack in half the time, though we use the difference in time to add additional data, in Revit and other systems. From a 3D modelling point of view we can now see any issues that might happen on site and adjust it before we reach that stage, which is a major advantage for a builder of our size.
What are the barriers to house builders achieving BIM?
Cost first, then expertise, these are the initial barriers. You have got to invest time in training people, so the total cost is in people, plus the machines and software have to be accounted for. It’s also very important for the technical team to have a clear vision of how they want BIM to benefit the business and this needs to be supported by senior management. At Redrow we have that clear directive; we want to streamline our processes, to make us the best in what we do. I hope BIM will play its part in achieving this.
What do you see as the manufacturer’s key role with BIM?
Manufacturers must understand that product placement is key and the starting point is the creation of BIM items of their products. Ideally for Redrow these should be provided in an .ifc, .rvt or .rfa formats so they can be used with our systems.
How would you like to see manufacturers engage with you on BIM?
Talk to us and tell us you are BIM ready, I think that’s the big thing. We really value manufacturers who have an in-house BIM expert that we can speak to if something isn’t working, or if we need to do something different or bespoke. Because we now work in BIM, manufacturers that can provide their models in BIM have a key advantage.
How do you see BIM developing over the next three years?
I would like to see Redrow continuing with a steady progression in using BIM, now that we have passed the first stages and have hit some of the targets we set ourselves.
We are always looking at ways to improve our products and this is the same with the use of BIM in the widest sense, via even further integration, right from the initial design to the final sale to the client.
With Redrow pushing ahead with BIM I feel we can be market leading in this sector and capitalise on our BIM processes and information utilisations.
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