BIM for Small Projects

You've heard of BIM (Building Information Modeling). Perhaps you are using Revit, ArchiCAD or Vectorworks in your office. Perhaps you are not.

If you aren't, perhaps it is because you don't have the time or incentive to learn an entirely new technology. Perhaps you have considered switching to this technology but just can't figure out where to start. Or perhaps you don't see any benefit to using one of these programs for your particular project type.

I can think of many reasons, but what is your reason for not using a BIM-capable software product? Let me know in the comments section below!

Switching to a new technology platform takes a lot of time, energy and money. For the small firm or solo practitioner, that time and money is disproportionately large compared with what a large firm would spend for the same transition.

However, if are a solo architect and you've been considering switching to a BIM system or want to hear some examples from architects that have used these software packages for small projects, you will want to tune into the AIA's recorded webinar:

BIM for Small Projects II:
Case Studies in Innovative BIM Use by Small Firms and Solo Practioners

Presenting during this webinar will be:

Brian Skripac, Assoc. AIA of DesignGroup, Columbus, OH | Revit user
H. Edward Goldberg, AIA | HEGRA Architects, Baltimore, MD | Revit user
Jared Banks, AIA | Shoegnome, LLC, St. Paul, MN | ArchiCAD user
David Sheer, AIA (Moderator)
Jeffrey Ouellette, Assoc AIA (Moderator)



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.

16 Responses

  1. I’m a residential draftsman and builder. I do a lot of additions and use ACAD LT. I’d like to move into BIM for estimating purposes and the 3D aspect would help sell jobs. Does anyone have any real world experience using BMI on this level? The 2D drawings work fine for small projects and I can pump them out fast and therefore my designs are competitively priced but, as I said, I can see the benefit to me as a builder for estimating purposes. Any thoughts/advice?

    1. Hey Josh, I’m a big fan of 3D BIM for the purposes you mention. Most residential architects and designers using BIM invest in either Vectorworks for Graphisoft ArchiCAD.

  2. For my own work I choose Chief Architect after using Vectorworks and ArchiCAD in previous positions. It is an outstanding parametric software for a sole practitioner doing residential and light commercial projects.

  3. I use vectorworks 13 with renderworks and have been for many years now. The BIM capabilities are great and the reports setup quite easy to create. There are videos on YouTube with varied examples of BIM uses in VW.

  4. Very intersting,

    I’m currently in the process of evaluating available solutions, which is a quite mind confusing process 😉
    About to set up my own practice, I definately want to go BIM from start 😉

    1. Hi Vincent, well I know what you mean, it can be baffling especially with the amount of avenues of information that is growing. Sometimes those involved in BIM forget when they started out and become BIM baffling themselves!

      You should come along to the BIM4SME event in London on 15th April. This might be a good area to start. The event isn’t there to ‘sell you BIM’, just to help bring us like minded smaller businesses together so we can talk about how BIM will work for us.

  5. This is a great discussion, thanks for initiating it! I work for a SME contractor (and I mean small, 19 people, projects up to £4m!) and am also on the Government working group for BIM4SMEs in the UK. I am always looking for case studies, information, helpful hints that are specific to the smaller practice in any sector and also smaller projects.

    I’d be interested in speaking with anyone who might have information they would like to share to help support smaller practices like mine!

    Please feel free to email me at g.lennon(at)

    Thanks for your help.


  6. Although CAD was in it’s infancy and ‘banned’ during my training I started using 2D CAD (AutoCAD 2 on Apricot computers) as soon as I entered the real world.

    I moved on to 3D CAD in the early 1990’s (Architrion on a 486 Windows PC) and have been using BIM capable software since Vectorworks 10 and ArchiCad 11 (on Windows and Apple PCs) and have just downloaded my upgrade to Vectorworks Architect + Renderworks 2013 (MacBookPro on OS 10.8).

    I run a small practice where a lot of the work is with existing buildings. Getting the software to cope with existing buildings requires ingenuity but not impossible.

    Working with a BIM ‘workflow’ is cost effective for the sole practitioner even if other consultants and the contractor haven’t got a clue about BIM!

    Any architect not using BIM and still on 2D CAD (or drawing board) is probably digging their own grave!

  7. I’m a single person firm and have used ArchiCAD exclusively since 2007. Before that, I had used AutoCAD since 1984.

    I would never go back to the old 2D way of working.

    I have completed construction documents on multi million dollar projects and very small projects by myself very efficiently.

    1. Thank you for the information and your background. I’m also a single person sole practitioner and have been dreaming of switching to BIM for years but I just don’t have the momentum.
      I’d appreciate your input as to the kind of hardware you recommend I should buy. On the software bit, I have been using VectorWorks but can have been doing 2D works only.
      Please contact me directly at


      1. Hardware will depend on the software package chosen. Here are the recommendations for running the latest version of ArchiCAD:

        Operating System:
        Microsoft® Windows® 7, 8 and 8.1 (64 bit version).
        Java 1.7.0 or later (automatically installed if not present).
        Mac® OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, 10.9 Mavericks.
        CPU: 64-bit processor with two cores are required. Processor with 4-8 (or more) cores are recommended to fully exploit the performance
        capabilities of ArchiCAD.
        RAM: 4 GB RAM is required. 8 GB or more is recommended for complex models and 16 GB or more is recommended for complex
        detailed models.
        Hard Drive: 5 GB free hard disk space required for a full installation of ArchiCAD. Additional 10 GB hard disk space per project required
        for work with complex models and 3D visualization. On Mac, only case insensitive file-system volumes are supported.
        Display: Resolution of 1024 x 768 is required. 1440×900 or higher is recommended.
        Video card: Open GL-compatible graphic card with on-board video memory of 512 MB required, 1024 MB or more is recommended to
        fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities.
        You can find a list of recommended video cards at:
        Optional Hardware Peripherals: All major plotter brands, printers and digitizers can be used with ArchiCAD.

  8. Hi Steve, thanks for dropping by and sharing your input. I can definitely see how the capabilities of BIM would be above and beyond a roof replacement.

  9. I have considered it but I do a lot of renovation work such as roof replacements and without seeing the product it just does not seem to be the right choice for my firm.

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