BIM for Small Projects? Case Studies

[box]A note from Enoch: The AIA is hosting a special webinar this Friday, March 9, 2012, entitled: BIM for Small Projects II: Case Studies in Innovative BIM Use by Small Firms and Sole Practitioners. One of the presenters, Jared Banks, AIA, of gives us a teaser of his presentation. I look forward to viewing this webinar and discussing it with those of you who are able to make it.[/box]

When we read about BIM, it's usually about large firms doing large projects: SOM, HOK, skyscrapers in Australia, airports in Japan, etc. We don't often hear about small cabins in Minnesota or restaurants in Maryland done by tiny firms. As one of the panelists for the AIA-TAP webinar on BIM for small projects, I am excited to share insights on how BIM works in residential architecture from my 4 1/2 years as the BIM manager at SALA Architects in Minnesota. And I'm here to tell you that BIM is right for any size project with any size budget. Of course it's not easy making BIM work. And if you haven't had some failures with BIM, then you probably aren't trying hard enough. So I'll also be sharing what's worked, what hasn't, and what I'm looking to try next.

To sign up for this free AIA-sponsored webinar, click here (This webinar is over; the link will take you to the archived version on AIA BIM for Small Projects II Webinar


Jared Banks, AIA
Shoegnome, LLC

To see the first webinar, go here: BIM for Small Projects I: Case Studies in Innovative BIM Use by Small Firms
To read more on Jared's blog, go here: Jared's BIM Blog



Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

5 Responses

  1. BIM customised for residential construction.
    I have been designing and building for 23 years in Australia and small projects are my bread and butter. I do not go for any job over the 3 million dollar mark and focus on residential work yet will take what is thrown at us as long as it is close to home. Travelling at peak time in Sydney is just not viable, 3 hours per day equates 780 wasted hours per year. To become more efficient I needed a way to get local clients yet still compete with the similar design or design and construct companies. To me BIM was the answer yet the time out of work to learn Revit and Archicad whilst justifying a yearly subscription in the 000’s was not appealing. A client of mine introduced me to Sketchup some 7+ years ago. I could now produce a 3D model and show clients the project in a more intuitive manor. At this stage the model did all of the selling for me with the client yet the documentation was not there nor was there an option for a bill of quantities or purchasable manufacture content. As a result I employed software developers as it was clear there was a market for such software.
    I am pleased to say through the GFC we did not have a day spare. We created a plug-in for Sketchup that allowed us to draw and edit models that have BIM information added to all facets of the construction. The software has not been designed for hospitals or major high rise yet the capabilities are there. Our aim was to cater for Architects and construction companies like ours and enable them to efficiently create a 3D model for client presentation / walk through and 2D drafting.

    One thing when doing smaller work is cost of construction, the mums and dads of the world all have budgets and this is where the BIM side of things becomes important.

    We all know designing a beautiful house or cottage can look great on the resume yet the reality is the project must be affordable to the client. This is now achievable for my business and will soon be for every other small project. We called the plug-in PlusSpec . PlusSpec will allow you draw, interact, conceptualise and quantify a model.
    To date the software has been kept in house yet we plan on releasing the software to the public worldwide later in 2013 and early 2014.
    For more information Google “Plusspec” and to see a video of what PlusSpec does Google ” Rubysketch” and go to the software tab.
    Cost effective, easy to use and interact BIM is what PlusSpec is about.
    Training will be available online or in Australia to start. It will be affordable just like PlusSpec is.
    Feel free to pre register for a pre release version as it is under $400 and will come with 12 months upgrade included.

  2. I would agree with Thomas, my small firm couldn’t survive without BIM. We use Revit and although it was a little learning curve getting up to speed, after I became familiar with Revit I loved it and would never look back. Here is a link for those starting out in Revit. There is a free Revit project file to give you a look at how a completed set is done in Revit which most people and firms won’t give away.

  3. Thomas, well said. The ability of a small firm to produce like a firm much bigger than itself is awesome. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. I like the term ‘force multiplier’.

  4. I work in a small/medium size danish architecture office, doing small, medium and large scale projects. Buildings and masterplans.

    We’ve been using BIM (Archicad) on some projects since 2006, and our experience is, that it’s often easier to get an advantage using BIM on small projects, with only one, two or thee people handeling everything.

    Especially small projects with only one architect managing the whole model from early sketches to final construction drawings, can be done much faster with BIM than 2D CAD. One person can actually master a pretty big project alone using BIM, because of all the automation done by software.

    An we have to remember, that by using BIM we also get a precise 3D-model, that would have taken extra time and expertice to build from 2D CAD drawings.

    Big firms can put a lot of money behind an executive decission to start using BIM on all projects, but small firms can turn from CAD to BIM much faster than bigger firms, and in that way have an advantage.

    I would say, that small firms working on small projects have more to gain from BIM, than bigger firms working on bigger projects.

    1. Thomas,

      Thank you for your comment. I’ve been thinking recently if putting effort and time into learning BIM makes sense already and your comment is really helpful.

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