BIM Basics: Accurately Quoting Completion Times

If you have been following along with the last couple of posts, you know that we are focused on addressing the questions to ask and the information to know before starting a BIM Model. Over the next few weeks, we will go deeper into the specifics and talk about a few industry terms. In this post, I will introduce a few of those key topics and discuss them in terms of how they affect a project's completion time.

When I say completion time, I simply mean the time that it takes to complete a project. As we all know, time is money. In this industry, we sometimes have tight budgets, but more often we find that our clients are more concerned with the length of time it will take us to complete a project. Here at Factory Reality, we are often brought in to firms as their “additional capacity”, which means our clients are needing our help to complete their projects by a certain date. For this reason, the time we have to work on a project is always on our mind, as I’m sure it is as well for folks across the industry.

Still done manually, for now!

Since the BIM modeling we do is all computer-based and virtual, it can be assumed that building a BIM model is simple, however; the work of converting physical structures into virtual reality is still a manual process. It takes time to do it well. As technology advances, there will be more ways that Artificial Intelligence can supplement manual labor and it will be exciting to watch. Though for now, industry experience and industry knowledge cannot be substituted for machine learning.

The Size of the Structure

So what factors contribute most to how long a project will take? As you might assume, the size of the structure plays a very important role. However, as we explored in our previous post, smaller space doesn’t always mean less time. That being said, the square footage of the space to be modeled is very important.

Level of Development

Another factor to consider is the Level of Detail/Level of Development. We will discuss this in great detail in a later post, but a basic definition, for now, is that LOD refers to the amount of detail to include in the BIM model. For example, do you simply want to know that there is a wall there or do you need to know that it is a brick wall? Do you simply need to know that there is a round object in the kitchen or do you need to know that the object is a round table? Going up the scale of LOD can exponentially add time to a project.

Elements to be Included

Similar to, but separate from the LOD is the elements of the structure to be modeled. There will be a separate post for this as well, but as you can imagine this can add a great deal of time to the project. The REVIT software we use allows you to model almost anything. If the client wants to see all the furniture in the house, then we can model that. If they want to see all the lighting fixtures, then we can model that as well.

2D deliverable?

There is also a difference between the type of deliverables we could be providing to a client. If the client needs 2D plans created from the BIM model, then that adds time to the project.

Quality of the Scan Data

One factor that can be overlooked is the quality of the scan data we receive. The point cloud data acts as our reference point and guide as we build the 3D BIM model of the space. If the scanned point cloud data is off in some way, that can really affect the accuracy and reliability of the BIM model. If the point cloud data isn’t clean, then the modeler is going to spend extra time trying to figure out where to place objects.

Time spent on QA/QC

As anyone in the industry will tell you, no matter how skilled the person working on the BIM Model is, there is still the potential for mistakes. Having a second set of eyes take a look at the work is crucial in delivering a quality service to clients. At Factory Reality, we spend 15-20% of our total allotted project time on QAQC and second checks. This has contributed greatly to the trust that we have built with our clients in delivering a high-quality BIM model. As you would assume, this does come into play when considering completion time.

The important takeaway from this is that there is always a balance between speed and quality. Building a high-quality BIM model does take time, it is a manual process that needs to be completed by skilled professionals. Considering all the factors above will allow us to estimate our completion times accurately and to meet the needs of the industry.