Clients need to give BIM designs more time - panel

BIM Breakfast event calls for greater realism in setting timeframes

The panel at CW's second BIM Breakfast event
The panel at CW's second BIM Breakfast event

Designers and contractors need to convince clients to allow for proper design periods in order to gain the full benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM) software, according to Jeffrey Freund of Abu Dhabi-based iTech.

Speaking at the second of a series of BIM Breakfast panel events held by Construction Week in association with Middle East Architect and MEP Middle East yesterday, Freund mentioned several projects in the region which had seriously overrun cost and/or budgets, which he said was due to unrealistic targets initially being set over delivery dates.

He pointed to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, which was initially due to open last year, but will not now open until 2015, as well as Dubai’s Cayan Tower, which he said finished AED300mn ($81mn) over budget.

“As far as I’m aware, no-one has spent more than AED20mn-30mn on BIM on a project,” he said.

Used properly, building Information modelling can help to considerably curtail risks of overspend and project delays, but only if consultants and contractors are realistic with clients who expect highly compressed timescales, he added.

“It’s not just in the UAE, it’s globally,” said Freund. “Everyone says yes to get the projects... the designer says they can do it in a year and the contractor says they can do it in two years. If you don’t, someone else will get the job.

“In the end, it takes four years but the cost goes back to the owners.”

However, Elizabeth Peters, BIM lead practitioner, Buildings + Places, Aecom, said that clients will not simply accept a request for more time to produce BIM models for projects. Instead, the industry need to persuade property owners and investors of the long-term benefits of BIM by convincing them of the return on investment they will receive.

She pointed out that just 21% of the costs during the 50-year lifecycle of a building were due to its acquisition (including construction costs), with the remaining 79% covering facilities management, maintenance and other costs. By providing a genuine resource on a building’s operations, BIM helps to substantially reduce some of these, she said.

Peters added that even if a developer is looking to build in order to sell, the quality of information provided through BIM will ultimately improve the value of an asset to a potential buyer.

She argued that construction is perhaps the only industry not to have made substantial use of technology in order to improve processes.

“We can’t not do it,” she said.

The event, which took place at the Ritz Carlton DIFC, was the second in a series of four BIM Breakfast events held by Construction Week, Middle East Architect and MEP Middle East. The events are sponsored by Aconex, Aecom, Autodesk, Bentley Systems and architectural practice Godwin Austen Johnson.

A full review of the event will appear in issue 533 of Construction Week.


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