Contractors have a lot of responsibilities resting on your shoulders. As the key person appointed to execute construction projects, the buck stops with you.
Thankfully, advanced digital tools like building information modelling (BIM) software are helping contractors to plan and manage work effectively, to deliver more building projects on time, within budget, to high safety and quality standards.
BIM software is a mandatory requirement for many construction projects: for example, all British public sector work must be fulfilled using building information management software under the UK BIM Framework. But even in projects where the software isn’t a legal requirement, it can still deliver huge advantages.
Interested in finding out more? Here are the top benefits of BIM for contractors:
Benefit #1: Closer collaboration with colleagues and subcontractors
As a contractor, you’re responsible for coordinating many stakeholders – from architects and designers through to engineers, site managers and tradespeople. You also need to build strong relationships with external parties such as subcontractors and suppliers.
Keeping every person on the same page is no easy task, but it becomes much simpler when using BIM software to plan and manage projects.
BIM technology converts project data into 3D or 4D plans, helping you to explain the sequence of work to your colleagues and subcontractors. By using BIM software to create 4D plans, you can visualise how every element of the build fits together. This gives everyone involved a clear view, and you can make group decisions about how best to execute work.
With BIM software, from day one you’re providing a well-defined brief and ensuring all stakeholders are working together towards the same standards and objectives.
Benefit #2: Improved project management
Even the best-run programmes get out of sync with their original timeline. Fortunately, BIM software enables you to compare planned versus actual work and model alternative scenarios to get construction back on track.
Choosing BIM technology with 4D planning capabilities can add huge value to project management, as the element of time is built into your visual plan.
Most contractors invest in BIM software to create a common data environment (CDE), but then start exploring the benefits of 4D planning. If you’re interested in finding out more, read our blog post on how 4D planning can extract new value from BIM software.
Benefit #3: Better use of available resources
Managing people and material resources is a key responsibility for contractors. And this responsibility has been made more challenging by current recruitment and supply chain challenges. For example, 90% of contractors say their projects have been affected by a shortage of skilled labour.
BIM software helps contractors to maximise available resources. 4D planning allows you to strategically model construction processes to choose the most effective construction route.
A good example of using BIM technology for smart resource planning is Willmott Dixon’s construction of the University of Warwick’s Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building. Willmott Dixon used Asta Powerproject, which has an integrated BIM module, to demonstrate that prefabricating 50% of the building off-site could halve the number of site staff required, reduce on-site deliveries by 40% and save 18 weeks on the project timeline.
Even in traditional builds, BIM software can help you to work more efficiently. For instance, you can sequence each tradesperson’s tasks in a single block of work rather than calling them back at different points in the build. Plus, you can use 4D plans to accurately manage procurement and reduce material waste.
Benefit #4: Tighter cost control
Improving resource management isn’t just a practical benefit; it reduces project costs as well. BIM software can help you to model scenarios throughout the design and planning process, identifying cost-effective ways to work.
Building a detailed digital programme also helps you to create accurate cost estimates, which you can monitor throughout project execution to reduce the risk of overruns.
Another of the key money-saving benefits of BIM software is the ability to identify potential issues early-on. By creating detailed programme sequences, you can see immediately when something gets out of sync.
More importantly, BIM’s virtual planning capabilities allow you to make fast, informed decisions in response to ‘bumps in the road’. When you consider that rework can cost 2.4% – 12.4% of a project’s contract value it becomes clear that the quicker you can find a solution, the more profitable your project is likely to be.
Benefit #5: Greater quality control
As a contractor, your reputation rests on the end result of each project. Was it delivered on time? Was it completed within budget? And is it finished to a high standard?
Close collaboration between project stakeholders is critical to meeting safety and quality control levels. It’s the contractors duty to ensure that industry standards are upheld – and BIM software keeps everyone on the same page to ensure your protocols are followed.
In addition, BIM software documents your high standards of workmanship, so you can show customers that you are meeting the latest regulations during project execution. It also creates a permanent digital record for future accountability – which is critical in an ever-evolving industry like construction.
We’ve seen through the introduction of the Building Safety Act how difficult it can be for contractors to recall information on completed construction projects. With BIM software you can help clients to understand the impact of changing laws on existing buildings, and hopefully secure the contract to execute any changes.
Benefit #6: Promote sustainable construction
It’s not just efficiency driving decisions in construction: new research has revealed that environmental impact is a core consideration for European building and construction contractors. In fact, 70% place sustainability in their top three strategic priorities for 2023.
All the benefits of BIM software we’ve shared so far have shown how digital planning and project management makes programmes run smoother and curtails costs. But those decisions can also help contractors to reduce waste and cut your carbon footprint.
For example, Collins Construction uses Asta Powerproject to track material usage and waste volumes, working with subcontractors and vendors to change how materials are used on-site. It recently encouraged a client to retain and re-fit existing floor tiles that were stripped out during a refurbishment. This decision reduced material requirements and also reduced site traffic, as trucks were not needed to collect the old tiles and deliver replacements.
Benefit #7: Happier customers (and more referrals!)
While there are many KPIs that contractors track during the course of construction, the ultimate metric is customer satisfaction. BIM software can help you to build strong, transparent client relationships that generate positive feedback, referrals and repeat business.
From the beginning, BIM software allows contractors to give your customers full visibility over planning and construction. Many companies find 4D plans much easier to understand than complex Gantt charts, and you can use these plans to prove the value of the techniques you’ve chosen.
The rise of BIM software in UK construction is helping contractors to keep customers up to speed with project execution and get the green light on changes to programme sequences.
Most importantly, by managing all your project data in a central and secure location, you can show clients that you’ve delivered on your initial promises and have a trustworthy record of work and materials for future reference.
As a member of the UK BIM Alliance Technology Group, Elecosoft is at the forefront of digital transformation in the construction industry.
Our market leading Asta Powerproject software includes Asta Powerproject 4D, an integrated module that links project tasks with 3D model components for 4D planning.
Start your Asta Powerproject free trial to learn more about the benefits BIM software provides for contractors.