When it comes to BIM, the housing sector has very much been a latecomer in terms of implementation says Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the STA and Chair of BIM4Housing
In place for around 18 months to date, the BIM4Housing working group has been developed to provide support to those involved in the design, construction, management and delivery of private and affordable housing. With a sense that the sector is at least three years behind its construction counterparts, we need to examine the importance of BIM4Housing.
Whilst its members are dedicated to implementing an easy to use BIM structure, the main obstacle being faced concerns collaboration and integration from the wider housing industry – without that support from the supply chain, BIM4Housing will be a much harder nut to crack.
Of course, the biggest challenge is people – essentially, BIM will only work well if everyone is on board. With a change in culture, BIM has massive potential, especially when it comes to reducing construction costs and boosting asset management.
When it comes to ‘people’ – BIM actually provides us with a real opportunity. We all understand the issues the industry is facing due to a lack of young professionals joining the industry, and this is largely due to the out-dated image associated with the construction industry as a whole. BIM however offers a more modern and indeed attractive environment for those joining the industry – broadly speaking, ‘Generation Y’ is more accepting and to some extent, more adept at the new technologies entering the industry.
Moving forward, we need to continually highlight the benefits of BIM. Offsite construction, for example, benefits greatly from the collaborative approach that BIM encourages.
This can be as simple as delivering design time savings – which alone are a very attractive benefit – or can be as complex as showing how the final house will perform throughout its life, using the timber and other materials selected. In this way, a new build can be monitored the whole way through the process, providing useful updates if and when design changes are made.
The only way to really ensure that BIM is utilised within the housing sector is by encouraging best practice. A great example is Nottingham City Homes, where around 15% design savings on average have been achieved since implementing BIM. This is largely due to the fact that design changes can be done there and then – and since it is more immediate than before the introduction of BIM, a great deal of time is saved. It also means that residents can be shown, almost in an instant, what the new plans will look like if changes are made.
Similarly, Telford Homes has seen a significant time/design saving too. Another advantage for Telford Homes is that its clients – many of which buy off-plan – can see what the property will look like and can be kept up to date with progress being made during the construction process.
Having spoken widely on the topic of BIM – at twelve conferences around the country so far this year – the STA is starting to see a gradual acceptance of the benefits of BIM. However, still for far too many if BIM can be avoided, be it because it is seen as either confusing or as an unnecessary use of time, then it will be.
Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA) and Chair of BIM4Housing
Tel: 01259 272140