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BIM – Do you already have one?

If you are managing facilities that have been built in the last 5-7 years, there is a chance that the design and construction team may have used BIM to construct your facility. Even now, most within the AEC community only think of BIM as a tool for use during design and construction phases. Ever-increasing numbers of savvy building owners are realizing that the BIM can be of great use during the entire lifecycle of the building’s operation, and these owners are requir- ing that the BIM be turned over to them upon completion of the building project. Owners are also realizing that the richer the data in the BIM model, the more valuable it can become to the Facility Managers in improving the effectiveness of building operations. There are multiple ways to access that data, but one of the easiest is for the Owners, Facility Managers and their internal team to learn the BIM software to be able to add and modify the proprietary information on their own. Once the team has been able to learn how to use the parameters and what their capa- bilities are, there is a possibility of the owner creating their own BIM “starter” template. Almost all BIM applications have some form of starter file which can be used for a new project. There is no reason that a large property owner should not have a template containing all the neces- sary parameters that the owner needs to efficiently manage a building and that all their various designers can use when creating a project for the owner. It may sound intrusive to the design team for the owner to do this, but if the owners are getting involved in specifying the level of detail that should be built into the BIM during design and construction, then it is actually quite courteous and more efficient for that owner to supply the design team with all of the necessary parameters at the start of the project. This sets a precedent for the level of communication ex- pected throughout the project which will hopefully lead to a well constructed and usable model.

BIM for Existing Buildings

If you are not managing a newer inventory of BIM-designed buildings, BIM is still very feasible. BIM models can be constructed from existing as-built records. If as-built records do not exist, dimensional information can easily be captured using 3D laser scanning devices. Many facility managers who do frequent moves will find it easily justifiable to capture as-built information and build the 3D BIM. If you do not have the capabilities, specialty design and survey firms can do this data capture and model building for you. It is also important to note that you do not even need to own the building in order to benefit from all that BIM has to offer. If you are in a long term building lease, you too can benefit from having a BIM for the building or even a BIM of just the floors that you lease.

Visualizing with BIM

BIM 3D Floor Plans help with move reviews.

One significant advantage that BIM provides to facility owners is improved visualization of the space. Let’s face it, many of us have difficulty looking at dimensional drawings and visual- izing how that dimension would be put to best use. Because BIM is naturally three dimen- sional, it is much easier to see how the space would work. In the BIM model you can place furniture and even have Avatars (computer generated representations of a visitor, employ- ee or user) virtually ‘walk through’ a space. Of course this visualization is very useful during new design and construction but it is also a fantastic tool for designing and constructing renovations and remodels. It allows you to much more easily get departmental buy-in and approval for the new layout.

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