BIM as a cost-cutting tool: “Fantasy and not fact”?

A typical positive example of why Building Information Modelling should be used is because it allows projects to be completed at a cheaper cost. Yet is it even possible to quantify money saved thanks to the adoption of BIM?

Sourceable spoke with Nathan Taffard, BIM leader at Meinhardt, an engineering consultancy company based in Australia. He believes that although it can be assumed that BIM cuts costs within AEC project developments, it’s not reasonable to identify it as a marketable selling point.


“It is nigh impossible to quantify BIM savings as a marketable selling point that proves substantively that an individual company is more or less BIM capable than another, said Taffard.


“Does it create savings? Well yes, I think so, but I can’t categorically prove it in a court of law. And therein lies the problem. Unless you can record it, measure it, and analyse it, it becomes fantasy and not fact. That’s not to say it is not there but we have no framework at present for measuring BIM. It is more an assumed saving than money in the bank.”


BIM is hyped as a way to ensure that theoretical potential issues within the construction of a project don’t occur, yet what if those problems never happened? In order to quell the aforementioned question should naysayers pedantically ask it, the author believes a concrete way of evaluating savings will be the best way to get more companies on board.


“We should be looking for more ways to measure BIM. If it can be proven with empirical evidence, then we can expect contractors and owners alike to want to participate and then we will see that BIM deserves the hype.”


There is however evidence to suggest that quantity surveyors save time and money thanks to BIM. Using that fact as a way to entice clients isn’t plausible to Taffard. He said:


“Producing 5D models has definitely benefitted the QS in terms of the time and cost to provide their figures. To qualify this advantage to the client is much more difficult as it did not directly result in savings for them. This poses a conundrum since I cannot promote outcomes that save a sub-contractor money if the client pays the same regardless.”


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Do you agree with Sourceable’s stance? What ways do you think cost-cutting can be measured?