Fitting bricks: it may seem scary to use BIM but the rewards are great

September 26, 2016


We’re told that when a bricklayer first walks onto a building site, the first thing he or she does is not lay any bricks.  They spend quite a bit of time working out exactly where the windows should be.  This is because they want to position them exactly such that there is a neat half brick / whole brick pattern around the window frame.  A very neat aim, but surely this is all on the architect’s drawing.  Well, apparently not.  Not, that is, unless the drawing is created under a Building Information Modelling (BIM) regime.  A BIM drawing would show bricklayers exactly where the windows should be to create the desired, neat effect.  This can save nearly a day of bricklayers’ time on site and serves as just one example of how BIM can cut costs on site.

At least one building products supplier thinks that build costs can be reduce by 10% over traditional methods.  There are lots of other cost savings from using BIM.  These include automatic and more accurate bill of materials lists and avoiding unforeseen conflicts in the build process.

As well as saving costs, there are lots of other benefits of using BIM.  Here are some:

  • Helps visualise the finished site which aids the planning process
  • Provides more accurate information for return on investment calculations
  • Allows potential buyers to visualise homes and customise homes for purpose

One major advantage of interest to asset managers is that all the information about BIM built homes is available electronically.  This means that, in the future, there is less need to physically go to homes to find out what boiler is installed or other features of the home.  Occupiers can find out exactly the latest instructions on how to operate their homes most effectively.  This overcomes a major barrier in the sector.  For example, we often hear that lack of accurate information prevents energy efficient improvements because there is uncertainty about the benefits of improvements.

One building consortium is taking the BIM idea to a whole new level.  On top of the BIM approach, consortium partners have set up a framework of products and prices to standardise the build process.  As a result they are able to build highly sustainable homes to very reasonable prices.  The set up allows them to:

  • At stages 1 and 2 of the build process, they provide planning assistance, site promotion, 3D walk through sites, and land appraisals with ROI’s calculations
  • At stage 3-4 they produce ecology reports, sustainability reports, flooding report, arboriculture reports, energy analysis, life cycle costs and running costs – all based on “real and live” data
  • provide customisation and product selection, useful if distinction between market sale or social homes is needed
  • e4 apps linked to each house.  Apps contain all the information about the products used, who installed them as well as operating manuals.  The apps also link to any sensors and smart meters
  • For asset management / snagging management they provide performance monitoring and alerts if something is not going right. So if anything is up for a renewal or a pump needs to be replaced the app would tell you

Consortium manager, Paul Surin, said, “We have demonstrated that we can build highly sustainable homes at a lower cost than traditional build. We also have a database of landowners, who only want to sell to developers who build sustainable homes.”

Get in touch if you want to find out more about cost saving from BIM or acquiring land.

Click here
Richard Lupo

Richard Lupo

Areas of expertise: developing and instigating stream-lined processes to ensure environmental effectiveness