Questioning the Consultants

Question: why are consultants fighting the use of a BIM Process that can save them time and coordination headaches?

 

I frequently work with my colleagues to coordinate consultants, and it’s part of my job to make sure that our consultants know what we expect from them. Although our office works exclusively in Revit and requires our consultants to do so as well, I find that Revit gets used as a drafting tool instead of a BIM Tool. Consultants complain that using Revit to capture information such as slab slopes, ramps, stairs and wood framing is ‘not part of the fee’. They may be willing to model the major elements but they do not want to provide a model for coordination with the architect or to the client.

The struggle is real: working with smaller consultant firms is a big problem when trying to facilitate interoffice BIM goals. If BIM is not required by the client most smaller firms would prefer to charge more for using a BIM workflow. I think that the use of Revit implies a start to the BIM workflow. After all, if you use the software as intended to incorporate information 3D coordination will occur.  There is an amazing advantage to all parties involved in the project.

Struggle

My response is always the same. Although our clients may not have explicit BIM goals, my office has an expectation that all consultants will collaborate on the project. We strive to deliver the best project possible to the client, and we need efficient collaboration to make this happen. Each project utilizing the BIM Tool Revit gets some sort of BIM Execution Plan (BIMeX) and I expect consultants on our projects to build models to a level that is documented in the BIMex and discussed at the project Kick-off meeting with all parties involved.

I am always confused by the consultant approach of using Revit as a 2D drafting tool. Revit is a BIM tool and it draws in 3D and is not a 2D drafting tool. Accurate modelling that all team members can use for coordination is the entire point of the software! Is this where BIM sputters? Is this the first edition of the software? Absolutely not: this is 2017 and we have been using this process for several years.

Understanding client requirements can allow the Architect to dictate the need for BIM Goals and create an in-house BIM Execution Plan. These requirements should be written into the consultant agreement and all consultants should agree to abide by the BIMeX. These meetings are meant to outline the use of software during the project timeline, the Level of Development within the model, what is modeled, how models are exchanged and who owns what elements in the 3D environment.

Once the BIMeX is created and agreed upon by the Architectural team it’s time to have a Project Kick-off meeting to go over the BIMeX and requirements of the projects modeling needs. It’s always best to sit down in person to discuss these requirements to make sure there is no confusion and everyone can agree upon the BIM Goals and deliverable. This documentation is used throughout the lifecycle of the project for a record of modeling responsibilities and requirements that all parties agreed on.

As Henry Ford said:   “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

4 Replies to “Questioning the Consultants”

  1. Thank you for the article! You are reading my mind. Exactly now I am trying to understand why our Architects do not want to send an update of the drawing scope according to our weekly request and do not use all possibilities of Revit like e.g. daily light analyze…

  2. From my experience all too often the consultants model is treated as a fabrication model by the owner and the contractor. It is used to bully them into providing a fully coordinated model which is inappropriate for a design model. And while all of this should be clarified in the BIM execution plan. The expectations are difficult to manage with the marketing around BIM. And of course the contractor would love us to do their coordination for them on our dime .

    1. I agree with the fact expectations are not managed correctly. I believe the biggest issue is what I discussed in my post on the Danger of BIM theory. I work hard with all my consultants to maintain respect and trust, I also make sure everyone is on board with the expectations and requirements. I don’t allow the contractor to use the models for coordination unless it is in the contract. I believe education is the key, we all must agree to educate BIM and not just it’s theory.

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