How Creating a BIM Handbook Can Benefit Your Business
The creation of a BIM Handbook – outlining the execution of BIM technologies, the various issues associated with their implementation and how these can positively impact workflows – can save time and money by facilitating greater understanding among key collaborators within a project. Internal staff and external teams can gain greater appreciation of what is required from each other, resulting in more efficient streamlining of processes.
Jonny Breen, IT and CAD Manager for NZ-based Context Architects, talks about some of the challenges of putting together the firm’s BIM Handbook and the benefits that have flowed from it.
“The key challenge was aligning our internal teams,” Jonny recalls. “When we set out to create a BIM Handbook we found each lead architect had a different preferred setup and each designer had a different methodology for using BIM or different idea of how it should be used.
“So we created an initial draft of what we thought the standards should be, then met with the lead decision-makers so they could have input and come to agreement. It was important that everyone had the chance to provide feedback so they all felt part of the process, which resulted in greater buy-in to the finished product.”
It took Jonny around 30-40 hours over a month to compile and finalise the Handbook content. “We had seven people, including myself, from our Auckland and Christchurch offices involved in creating it.”
Jonny describes the Handbook as ‘output-focused’, in keeping with Context’s corporate philosophy of putting clients first: “A lot of firms are pushing BIM because it has marketing mileage, but our focus is on the benefits to clients. We want to ensure that whatever we give to our clients is of a consistently high standard, regardless of software – we want our design drawings to all look the same and evoke a consistent brand identity.
“From a business perspective the key benefit is efficiency – having an agreed BIM standard helps us deliver our products and services as quickly and efficiently as possible. It has led us to devise a smarter template which has everything the team needs to create consistently powerful models so that when anyone in our team undertakes a project it’s easy to comply with our procedures and standards. This enables everyone to work faster and produce a better output, which increases our bottom line.”
Jonny says awareness of BIM is very high in New Zealand, thanks in part to a push from Government committees like BIM Accelerate and the Productivity Partnership. “Architects are already onto it and the engineers are now increasingly coming to the party. We’ve had to educate them on the likes of IFC and the BIM Federated Model – we’ve called in at their offices and showed them what we want to achieve and how to achieve it. Once you have the process defined, agreed and templated, then each time you work with that consultant it’s seamless.”
Jonny adds that rather than having to explain the BIM acronym to clients, Context prefers the simple term ‘Virtual Building’: “It’s much easier for the public to understand when we say ‘we digitally construct your building’. Using BIM we’re able to provide clients with a virtual walk-through of their building in our VR-Lab. A well-constructed 3D model enables you to get client buy-in much earlier in the process. Using these kinds of tools, we’re able to give clients the opportunity to interact with their virtual building on their smartphone, as they would a computer game.
“In addition to the immediate efficiency and quality benefits, all this plays a significant role in improving customer retention and generating repeat business.”
If you are thinking about creating a BIM Handbook to help improve the efficiencies of your business, we recommend the following resources:
- BIM Information Modelling is an Australian website with several resources including Collaboration documents and BIM Standards/Guideline documents.
- BIM in NZ: Here you can download a range of documents including the BIM in New Zealand Handbook and a range of Best Practice documents.
About Context Architects
Context Architects is a multi-disciplinary practice operating nationally from Auckland and Christchurch. Their award-winning team includes architects, urban designers, master planners, residential and commercial specialists, heritage and sustainability experts who all work together to create great buildings.