BIM and the Client
Discussions about the benefits of BIM often overlook what is in it for the client, focusing instead on what is in for the design and construction team, and how BIM helps them work together regardless of where individual team members are located. BIM offers also an important shared benefit between the client and the architect. We call it design change management, which invariably affects the profitability of a project.
Many clients and lay people have difficulty understanding and appreciating 2-D floor plans and elevations, even when rendered. We, architects, do not recognize that such drawings just do not give enough 3-D context of space the client can understand and react to to provide the architect with an approved design direction until way down the road, sometimes even during construction, before the client begins to change his/her mind. We refer to such costly changes as additional services the client must pay for, because they intervened after the client had approved the design.
SYLLA International, a modern architecture design-oriented firm based in Florida, uses BIM as a scope change management tool. With BIM, we are able to give the client a range of 3-D images, including even a virtual BIM model that the client can navigate and have a better feel for the 3-D spaces they expect to live or work in. In turn, we obtain a better design feedback from the client that may not eliminate all design changes, but would limit them, to extent that the client has a better understand of what they are getting.
BIM provides a much better and more dynamic and interactive working relationship with the client than was possible using the traditional 2-D method of drawings. This alone should spur any firm to adopt BIM; otherwise we cannot blame clients when they belatedly change their mind down the road because we just did not give them a better design product in 3-D that would have helped them understand the design, react to it and provide us with comments that can be incorporated in the design process sooner.
One of the major risks to a project profitability is the management of design changes after phase approval. BIM gives us a tool to manage some design changes early enough not to adversely impact the profitability of a project or the architect’s relationship with the client.