Canadian resources & thoughts on building design technology

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Friday, October 31, 2014

BIM ROI in More Detail

In my last post, I talked about how firms should be analyzing their technology investment – specifically in BIM.  I made a statement that set out a few assumptions:

For a yearly expense equivalent to one person’s salary in a 20-30 person firm many could see such returns.  In any other walk of life that would be considered a phenomenal Return on Investment and yet to improve all of their staffs’ work environment, to improve the buildings they deliver, and, as a result, take more of their fee home with them, the design professions are not willing to take this “risk”.  As someone who has worked in this industry, I SHOULD understand this!  Even more puzzling is why do savvy building owners, smart risk-takers who are willing to invest in expensive projects, not want to save hundreds of thousands, if not millions due to this technology and process change?”

Let me break down these assumptions.

1. Spend the Equivalent of One Person’s Salary
We work with a lot of firms of this size (20-20 staff). In almost every case a similar scenario has evolved.  A fee is quoted on a project and by the time the project goes to construction almost all, if not all of this fee is spent.  All of the contract administration becomes overhead to the project. Then the changes start to arise and the final product is compromised (value engineered) in order to be delivered.  Every change made costs the owner and the designer in time, money, or quality, often all 3.
In every case, the investment we recommend amounts to between $50,000 and $100,000; less after the 1st year of success.  Most employee’s cost falls within that range. So, if there are 20 employees, this amounts to 5% of their cost.  So, a return of anything over that would be a good investment, and this is without all of the other inherent benefits.

2.  Improve Staff Work Satisfaction
In almost every situation where staff is given an opportunity to utilize BIM effectively, they will balk at returning to the way they worked before. Yet, there are many examples of situations where the staff is not given this opportunity and the new process is measured with old metrics – how long did it take to produce each drawing? How do the drawings look? Do the drawings look coordinated? How many drawings are required for the project?
Notice the questions we ask – they are not about the building, but about the drawings. In a true Model-based approach, these questions become irrelevant because the model speaks for itself and those who participate enjoy what they are able to do with that model.

3.  Produce Better Building (What is a better Building?)
How can one determine whether this new process produces a better building?  Well, if there is less time spent in Contract Admin, less time doing tasks that a computer is far better at, there is more time for design.  If there is more time for design, it stands to reason that the result will be better.  Because errors are picked up digitally, they cost less, so not only does it cost the design team less time, it costs the owner much less.  In addition, that error-decreased project is also closer to what the client wanted because it was tested first and understood far better in advance of ever wasting expensive on-site time.
That is what creates a “Better” building.

4.  Make More Money Doing It
Here is the key – everyone benefits from this process.  The design team does a better job and keeps more of their fee; the contractor can streamline the building process and provide a better product at a lower cost; the owner doesn’t have to spend on costly Changes  - hard to quantify because they are expenses never incurred!

All of this is hard to quantify, but if one tries, there are some very obvious places to assess value.

Depicting Design Decisions

Firstly, pure and simply, how many places does each design decision show up on a set of drawings?  3, 4, 5?  Let’s use 4 as an average; really it is every drawing, because every decision has a ripple effect.  In a Model-Based process each decision is depicted in one place.

Changing Those Decisions

Changes happen.  Regardless of how well the client understands the building or much time is spent.  So, why have to make the change in more than one place.  That takes time!

Let the Computer Compute

How much of the work done daily in your office is pure drudgery?  Hatching walls, dimensioning, counting, resizing annotation;  not only could people doing this work be spending time getting a design right, the computer does a much better job at it; once again leaving designers to what they do best.

Performance Analysis

How much time is spent analysing your design? Again, a computer is infinitely better at performing such tasks. And a model is the perfect environment in which to do it, if it is set up p[roperly with this end in mind!

So, take your firm or project through a very simple Return on Investment Potential analysis.  If you are not comfortable creating one yourself, they are available.  If you cannot find something that works for you we would be happy to get together and walk you through one.

Don’t forget to uncover every possible expenditure.  Look at the time it takes to create traditional drawings.  Then look at the time it takes to correct them at every milestone along the way. Look at the time and money it takes to correct problems that are only discovered once construction begins. Look at the time it take to make late design changes that could have been understood and picked up earlier. Look at the time it takes to do lighting, energy, structural, material and many other types of performance analyses.

Then, look at the benefits of doing all of these things correctly – having a better handle on costs, communicating with owners, avoiding RFI’s and minimizing Changes, improving building performance, responding to programme requirements.

Take all of this into account in performing a proper Return on your BIM Investment. If the result is more than 10% (which I know it should be), this is a return that you should take very seriously. 
I believe that most returns will be significantly higher if BIM is implemented properly.  If your ROI potential is less than 10%, I would suggest that you have really mastered the traditional, and you should probably not change.  But if you want to see returns of 20%, 30%, 50%, you should seriously either have a look at how a BIM process can help your project team or have a second look at how you implemented BIM in the first place.

Our experience is that most involved – designers, builders and owners are not looking at the numbers, are not using technology to improve the projects they deliver, but are measuring effectiveness with old methods. Do yourself a favour; perform a proper ROI analysis, spend the money to invest wisely in a proper BIM implementation based on your goals and expectations, and reap the rewards that are rightfully yours. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Great Week for Building Performance

Today has been a great day for building performance and simulation. There have been three exciting announcements in the past 48 hours, relating to Autodesk products:
  • The Solar Radiation add-in is now available for Revit through Autodesk Labs
  • Energy Analysis for Dynamo alpha version has been released 
  • EnergyPlus has been "Raised to the power of the cloud"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Are You Seeing a Return from your BIM Investment? (Part 1)

There are a lot of things in this world that I don’t understand – what seems logical to some, is not obvious to others. In our business at Summit, we deal with buildings and how to deliver them in a better way. So I should understand why people with expertise will argue against the logic of such beneficial change as BIM.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Upcoming Webinars to Realize the Full Potential of BIM

Win with BIM
Photo Credit: @yakobusan Jakob Montrasio 孟亚柯
Summit Technologies presents a new series of monthly webinars focused on realizing the full potential of BIM:

Free Webinar: Where to Win with BIM

Tuesday, September 23 at 11:00 am (PDT)

Where should you win with BIM? Everywhere. It should be instrumental in the direction of your organization and at its core, should improve on traditional deliverables. But, is that enough? Bob Heyman, President of Summit will demonstrate how you can improve your delivery, produce better buildings, and gain more work as a result of realizing the full potential of BIM.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dynamo for the 99% - Selecting objects a different way

In the last post I showed how to create a simple Dynamo definition to select all rooms in a model to change their properties in one go. Selecting objects is the first step to do other interesting and useful things like filtering elements to later manipulate them. This post describes a different way of selecting that could be a bit more intuitive.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dynamo for the 99% - Select Rooms and Modify Parameters

Dynamo for the 99% will be a series of posts highlighting the use of Dynamo for practical data manipulation or time-saving tasks that could apply to most Revit users.

I recently received an email asking how I had manipulated some room information in my webinar earlier this year. At the time I was living on the edge of Dynamo, using custom dlls that allowed me to manipulate Revit system families (which at the time was not allowed out of the box).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Explore the Revit App Exchange Visually

Using Tableau Public and I generated the following data visualization for the Revit App Exchange (up to date as of 05/28/2014). It gives you a good way of visualizing the different Revit apps that are out there, their rating, language, file size and more. External link if it is taking a while to load or you experience problems scrolling through the filters.

Friday, May 9, 2014

So, you forgot to install your Revit 2015 libraries...

If you forgot to install certain libraries with Revit 2015, like I did, it is worth noting that the procedure for installing missing libraries has changed slightly. In previous releases, you would Uninstall/Change Revit through the Control Panel Programs and Features. With 2015, you now have a separate listing for Autodesk Revit Content Libraries 2015.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ladybug and Honeybee for Building Performance Design

In the past I have criticized the lack of climate/predesign and daylighting analysis tools in Vasari. So it was with great surprise that I recently learned about Ladybug and Honeybee, some recent projects developed by Mostapha Sadeghipour Roudsari, Chris Mackey and Saeran Vasanthakumar.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dynamoing Structural Framing

Every day that passes I continue to see Dynamo as a powerful design tool able to provide useful feedback on tasks that would just take too many clicks using the traditional Revit User Interface. So, today, as I finished my presentation on Dynamo (archive link here), I kept thinking of different applications. Here I used a Structural Framing collector to apply a gradient graphic override by length. This could help an engineer/architect quickly understand the different bay sizes and opportunities for standardizing sizes and reducing costs.