SHORT_ How to save millions with BIM!

30 March 2020

The costs for the new airport in Berlin are exceeding the planned budget by more than 5 Billion Euros, and there seems to be no end in sight. The Elbphilaharmonie in Hamburg and the Grand Paris Express are similar examples. Corruption! Mismanagement! One of you might shout now. But anyone who has ever built a house knows – there are always some extra costs hidden.

BUT: An American University just proved that if done right, a major construction project can even be more affordable than planned. The Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB). A 650,000 square-foot centre housing the life sciences programs of the three universities. The building’s 12-story complex features 500,000 square feet of space. The total construction volume was $295 million, of which the clients saved $10 million through smart planning.

By now, you might have guessed how they did it: Everybody, literally everybody, involved in the design and construction process of the CLSB was using BIM: Architects, designers, consultants, subcontractors.

What is BIM?

“Think of it as computer-aided design (CAD) on steroids.” FASTCOMPANY


BIM is an intelligent model-based process for planning, designing, building and managing buildings and infrastructure. It connects AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) professionals so that they can more efficiently design, build, and operate buildings and infrastructure. Instead of using separate sets of drawings BIM enables project members to design and build collaboratively using one coherent system of computer models.

BIM is more than just 2D or 3D modeling. Designers create digital 3D Models that include data associated with physical and functional characteristics. The data in the model define the design elements and establishes behavior and relationships between model components. When an element in a model is changed every view is updated with the new change appearing in section, elevation and sheet views. BIM explained by Autodesk

Who can use BIM and what is their major benefit by using it?


  • More control over the project, as BIM provides an understanding of the current status of all partners involved.


  • Planning errors are immediately visible. If for example other teams involved in the project make changes, which intervene with the static, changes or/and mistakes are immediately visible and therefore changeable before construction started.


  • Improved schedule: more accurate timing enables better planning for follow-up projects as well as a more precise calculation of the labour force.


  • Lower project risks through greater costs and schedule predictability.
  • More control through transparency, e.g. when it comes to the amount of material. With BIM the amount of all materials can be exactly defined. No space for fraud.


  • Access to all information at any time. For example, the size of gross surface often changes during the span of a project. With BIM, investors always have insights into the current status.
  • Faster ROI thanks to faster selling of properties with realistic visualisations.

The five biggest benefits of BIM:

According to the SmartMarket report “The Advantages of BIM for the Infrastructure sector 2017” by Deloitte and Autodesk.

  1. Fewer mistakes
  2. Better cost forecast
  3. A better understanding of the project
  4. Improved time management
  5. Optimised designs

Top five reasons why companies DON’T use BIM:

According to the SmartMarket report “The Advantages of BIM for the Infrastructure sector 2017” by Deloitte and Autodesk.

  1. Not enough demand from clients/ other organisations on the project
  2. Software is too expensive
  3. Processes don’t apply well enough to what they do
  4. Poor interoperability with other applications
  5. BIM implementation guidance is unclear/too limited

To BIM or not to BIM?

It seems that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and one wonders why not all companies use BIM. Very frankly, BIM only makes sense when a certain project size is reached. For a single-family house, for example, the effort at the beginning is too high for the cost you would save. If a project exceeds a certain size and more people get involved, the more complicated it gets. Therefore, if a project exceeds a certain size, it makes sense to invest time and money at the beginning to have planning reliability, and to stay within the budget and the timeframe.

What are your experiences with BIM? We would love to hear about it. Comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook page. Find out more about how the future of house building will look like by reading our article on AI and real estate.


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