Just in the last 5-7 years, BIM has overcome a long way from the paradigm and design system used by «advanced» designers to a certain standard of the design and construction industry, which in its development is already beginning to gravitate towards division into separate niches, and new separating abbreviations are being created (BIM, TIM, DIM, IM, etc.), with their own values and statuses. 

What conclusions can be drawn, looking at the situation in retrospect of the past years?

Designing: The first waves of BIM popularization were held under the slogan of shortening the design time due to automation, as well as improving the quality of the project product.  

There is practically no acceleration in the design; it is possible to achieve the same deadlines considering well-trained personnel and a customized process. Quality improvement is also largely realized by good team work, although BIM tools, of course, have brought additional control and verification capabilities, but all these capabilities require additional implementations, and therefore additional personnel. Previously, only compliance assessment was needed for documentation, nowadays BIM-control has also been added to this. Yes, indeed, sometimes there is an acceleration in the implementation of project adjustments. Yes, indeed, the automation allows us to solve those tasks that were not even set before, but here we move on to the next stage, new tasks. New to the designer. 

Development: in recent years, the tasks of accurate calculation of volumes have come forward as a new driving factor in the popularization of BIM. Now many developers have already adopted them. 

These tasks can be called new only in the context of the fact that now they are proposed to be solved in a new way, using BIM tools; all these tasks can somehow be attributed to the global trend for big data. It turned out that they also exist in the construction industry, and if earlier this data was extracted from the design documentation by estimators of appropriate qualifications. Nowadays, the designer can already forward much of this data to the client in the form of data tables, while the tables are filled in from the corresponding positions of the model, and the communication of the model and the data table is achieved by application of a special classification key. So, the building model turns, in fact, into a database, the methods of working with which are similar to the methods of working with data in all other areas.  

What conclusions do we see here?

A truly correctly executed model that meets the client’s requirements and does not contain errors specified in such requirements allows collecting, checking, and detailing volumes. In fact, we get the initial figures of the estimates, which can then be decomposed and expanded by the estimators and are most often collected for the tender stage, for the conclusion of the developer’s contract with the builder. This allows at the time of the commencement of construction, when all the detailed design necessary for construction may not yet be completed, to conclude contracts for fixed amounts of work, but not to calculate them in the process, which previously often led to an increase in the cost of the construction. 

But even this process was not without debunking marketing stories of implementation. In this vein, they happened in cases where consulting agencies (the quality of services of which can be very different) have sold BIM implementation to the developers for greater solidity and price, integrated into this implementation package what, in principle, the developer did not need, which did not provide any additional advantages, but inflated the labor costs of the process both for the developer himself and for the design companies hired by him. 

It turned out that in addition to the requirements essential for the developer with regards to the content and detailing of models (LOD — Level of development), requirements for the quality of modeling and classification of elements, the other requirements slowing down the process were also imposed. They all boil down to the fact that the developer is trying to get inside the design process and customize it (to fit the schemes sold by the consulting contractor), forcing the realizer to use rules alien to him in BIM tools, which leads to the inevitable braking, and possibly to the destruction of the designer’s debugged process, on which the entire overall BIM-process is built. 

As a consequence, the market now knows quite a lot of negative results of attempts to use BIM technology, and almost all of them are associated with overstatement of requirements, the result of which is not used in further work and does not provide practical benefit. But what other practical benefit can a BIM result have? We are moving on to construction. 

Construction: at this point in time, this is the peak of BIM technology application. Of course, there is a lot of talk about operation and even demolition of facilities using BIM, but so far these stages are methodological. As for BIM, it already feels quite well directly on construction sites, too. The most progressive metropolitan developers and their technical clients use it to control the construction process. For accurate calculation and closing of volumes, the models are used by engineers of technical supervision and FTE to check the volume figures provided by builders for reimbursement. Also, the models are used to visualize the construction process and to record comments to the builders. This clearly shows the current state of the construction site and demonstrates which volumes of work are closed, which are questionable, which are planned. You no longer need to read multi-page reports or sort out a pile of papers for this. You can twirl the model and perceive the necessary slice of information. 

What difficulties exist here?

Of course, in addition to the need of qualified personnel for such tasks, the difficulty arose in the fact that the software for this type of work was not ready. It turned out to be a new software market that still doesn’t have many players. The application of software products used in the designing or the involvement of designers in these processes did not show good results. As a result, now these processes show good performance indicators only for those who were able to create their own software to solve their tasks.