As the government’s 2016 BIM mandate looms closer, it’s interesting to note that companies are still hesitant in adopting BIM, unsure of its benefits. Here Steven Gosling, Managing Director of DSG Quantity Surveyors – the leading BIM QS practice in the UK – looks at their journey and how he’d urge others to ensure their teams are ‘BIM ready’ sooner rather than later.
DSG first became involved with BIM in 2012, following our attendance at an introductory seminar. We’d been led to believe that BIM was to be the ‘death of the quantity surveyor’ and of course we are very interested to find out more.
What we actually saw was an opportunity – an opportunity to stay ahead of our competitors in a tough market. As an SME, we were struggling to break into and secure the more traditional Private Quantity Surveying (PQS) work that the larger practices were winning. Our turnover was mainly secured from measuring and preparing bills of quantities – a high risk and low margin strategy! We needed to diversify, and we identified that BIM could help us to do that.
We’d also struggled in attracting staff – with many choosing to work for the larger practices. We recognised that in order to ensure we could build the strong team that we needed to grow the business, our investment in BIM may help us to achieve that, encouraging your surveyors working toward their RICS to come and work with us and the latest BIM technology – something that they wouldn’t be able to do working for many of our competitors.
We invested heavily in 5D BIM technology, and put together a specialist BIM team, led by director – Bernadette Lord – and coordinated training programme for all to become fully proficient BIM specialists; this included carrying out a number of pilot BIM projects to ensure that the team were ready to work on live projects.
There are many questions still being raised regarding the investment of BIM and the cost of the software, but, in those early months the biggest financial burden to us as a business was the loss of turnover whilst our BIM team were speculatively working on BIM projects to gain the experience necessary.
For many companies only just beginning to see the 2016 date looming, I imagine that for them to build a team from scratch will be there biggest challenge, and I’d urge them to look at nominating a senior person as a BIM ambassador to begin to introduce BIM to the business. We now have our BIM team in place, and new additions to the team are brought up to speed in the first instance shadowing one of our BIM specialists’, ensuring that time isn’t taken away from our live BIM portfolio.
We are now working on a number of BIM projects for many of the leading contractors and are having fantastic results from the technology. There are still challenges to overcome, but by working with the other consultants involved in developing better models we are very confident about the future.
The strategy has certainly had great benefits for of us from an employability point of view. Our North West team has recently doubled in size, with many of our newest employees choosing to work for DSG due to our BIM technology and their interest in this area.
Our BIM expertise is also attracting a tremendous amount of attention from architects, engineers and in deed other surveyors. We are regular asked to speak on our experiences of BIM at industry seminars, and are currently working with others on establishing an alliance of other BIM specialists to work with the public sector and others in delivering effective BIM projects, and training others in becoming BIM specialists.
Yes the investment of BIM was costly but the financial benefits we are already seeing are tremendous.
Steven is managing director of DSG Quantity Surveyors. Originally from South Africa, Steven established the business in Newbury in 2007. DSG is now a national practice with offices in the South, North West and Midlands covering the full range of quantity surveying services, and is the leading QS practice specialising in BIM technology.