How Building Information Modeling Can Help Your Commercial Jobs

Greater efficiencies and productivity can be gained on the actual job by studying high-quality 3D models of the work site in advance

How Building Information Modeling Can Help Your Commercial Jobs

Interested in Commercial Plumbing?

Get Commercial Plumbing articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Commercial Plumbing + Get Alerts

Building information modeling (BIM) is continuing to grow and evolve in commercial construction. It helps manage projects more efficiently with greater productivity and less waste.

In fact, it’s growing so much that many large contracting firms that already have their own in-house BIM departments are now outsourcing work because of resource constraints. Some pipe manufacturers are even offering BIM services to meet this growing demand.

What is BIM?

BIM is a collaborative process supported by teams, technologies, and tools to generate and manage digital assets that represent the physical space of a building to be constructed. Contractors are then able to gain greater efficiencies and productivity during the installation process, based on higher-quality 3D models generated from the BIM process.

What do BIM departments do?

BIM departments are typically led by a vice president or director and include project managers and business development managers who work one-on-one with clients to provide modeling and coordination, laser scanning, BIM coordination management, BIM training, on-site collaboration, template development, and workflow optimization. 

For modeling and coordination, they can provide hanger layouts and structural supports, in addition to spooling and fabrication detailing along with shop, install, and as-built drawings. 

Their laser-scanning services can include everything from scanning of existing buildings for renovation, scanning completed projects for documentation, and scan-to-BIM services.

How does this support the plumbing contractor?

By utilizing BIM or partnering with a BIM provider, a contractor can increase workflow efficiencies to help identify issues early on in a project to maximize productivity and minimize waste.

For example, your company can leverage 3D models to validate designs from the onset of design to improve overall project execution and collaboration. This leads to reduced design errors, which result in higher design accuracy that saves you money and time by reducing rework and change orders. 

Accurate and well-coordinated designs also lead to improved job costing through more accurate quantities and estimates, resulting in reduced job site waste. 

Site logistics can be more precise by leveraging accurate models to create model-based schedules or sequences. 

Look-ahead plans, work-in-progress models, materials planning, equipment and rigging locations, site traffic patterns and controls, and even location-based schedules can be derived from well-coordinated 3D models to optimize daily job site activities.

What should you consider when choosing a BIM provider?

One of the most important points to consider when choosing a BIM provider is their location. Some BIM companies are located overseas, so the opportunity to have live interaction or even in-person collaboration is very challenging or impossible. Be sure to go with a BIM provider located in your region, or at least in your country, so collaboration can happen in real time.

Make sure they have experience with the codes and standards in your jurisdiction, as well as the construction practices in your area. It’s important to note that certain commercial projects, like hospitals, may have specific construction methods that must be adhered to for code. Make sure the BIM team you’re partnering with knows these important details. In addition, it’s good to work with a team that has affiliations with industry organizations, such as ASPE, ASHRAE, and MCAA, to ensure they’re up to date on the most current trends and information in the industry.

Finally, it’s important to consider cost when it comes to choosing a BIM provider. It’s true what they say, you do get what you pay for. When researching providers, consider the experience of the team and the support they can provide when weighing how much you want to pay for these services. 

Because BIM is a relatively new concept to the construction industry, experience is definitely in short supply. That said, look to these providers for training your staff. It’s a great way to add value to your company and provide future projects with greater efficiencies and productivity.

About the Author

Kim Bliss is the technical and marketing content manager at Uponor. She can be reached at


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.