Building Information Modeling vs. Future Project Delivery Methods

The construction industry over the years has witnessed the use of many tools in developing and producing drawings. Such tools include hand drafting to the use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) in recent years. The latest tools which many Architects and Contractors are not quite motivated to embrace include but not limited to Revit, Archicad, Constructor, Navisworks. All these are forms of Building Information Modeling (BIM).

BIM as a process to create virtual building model cannot be fully incorporated into the construction process without its association with one or more of the commonly used project delivery methods, for instance Design – Build, Construction Management and Integrated Project Delivery method.

What is BIM ?

BIM can be defined as the act of creating an electronic model of a facility for the purpose of visualization, engineering analysis, conflict analysis, code criteria checking, cost engineering, as-built product, budgeting and many other purposes. (U.S. National Building Information Modeling Standards). BIM actually adds efficiency to the design and construction process, reducing waste and helps to improve quality.

Because, majority of Owner – Clients are not well informed about BIM, about the impact it can have on project delivery method, contract type and fees, that is why today is the right time for the Architects with their entrepreneurial skills to begin educating Clients on current benefits to Owners and possible future benefits as well. Few of such benefits include: better communication, lower project cost, enhanced project outcomes and helps to avoid rework.

BIM as it is known to contain two components: the “I” denotes computable data or information and the “M” denotes modeling, which involve automated and coordinated drawings based on computable data. If and when the capability of BIM is limited to modeling alone, its use results to the current 2-dimensional CAD drafting and when fully employed it is not suitable for Design-Bid-Build project delivery. Now, with the increasing awareness in BIM – Revit, Archicad etc. it is a matter of time when the Design-Bid-Build will become obsolete in the Construction industry.

BIM vs. Project Delivery

The project delivery method that benefits most from BIM is the Integrated Project Delivery method, which is a form of project delivery that brings the Contractor on board to participate in the project decision making at the onset of the design stage. (Refer to previous post on project delivery methods and the project team to better understand the concepts).

Project Integrated Practice is a holistic approach to building in which all project stakeholders and participants work in highly collaborative relationship throughout the complete facility life cycle to achieve effective and efficient buildings. (George Elvin, AIA, “Integrated Practice in Architecture”) Examples of the Integrated Project Delivery are: Design-Build and Construction Management at Risk. It is worth mentioning that other forms of construction management delivery methods that are not necessarily a form of Integrated Project Delivery can benefit from the use of BIM.

Integrated Project Delivery helps Architects make better design decisions and avoid project delays, cost overruns and un-constructible building details, therefore Architects / Designers that have appreciation for design excellence are in no doubt going to embrace this approach.

Often people in the industry and the Clients alike used to get confused on the term “Fast Track Project” with “Design-Build” and “Construction Management project” delivery. It is important to understand that fast track is a common denominator to projects with overlapping phases and not a delivery method in itself.

In essence, if the Client should request fast track project, then the pros and cons of each delivery method that brings about fast track should be discussed. Also note that fast track can be avoided if early completion is not an issue.

What is Fast Track?

Fast track is when design and construction are overlapped and different sections of the plant are designed and built in parallel with significant additional risk due to the links between the designs of different parts of the project. (Turner 1996). Some of the reasons for implementing fast track can include any of the following: to maximize profit or limit loss, due to imposed deadline or to minimize disruption of services. Despite the underlying reasons, when BIM is fully utilized fast track will come to play.

Advantages of Fast Track:

  • Reduction for Clients and Contractors on engineering and construction projects.
  • Reduce time period for risk exposure.
  • Short schedule.


Disadvantages of Fast Track:

  • Additional risk factors.
  • Increased project management and control time required.
  • Likelihood of cost increase.


Architects / Designers reluctance to Integrated Project Delivery

Except for the enlightened Clients and the well informed Architects on how to handle Fast Track projects when it comes to architectural fees. The more reserved Architects who are used to the traditional Design-Bid-Build delivery method are fees conscious and constantly worry because most of their fees are generated from extra services during multiple change orders, RFI’s and revisions during construction. This fear of losing profit should not be a barrier to move forward.

It is time for Architects to become more dynamic in reviewing their fee schedule in collaboration with Ontario Association of Architects based on the current Technology trend in the industry. Why not draft a separate fee schedule that will bring appropriate profit to the Architects? and advice the Clients of such fees accordingly. I want to believe that, there is need for an overhaul and dynamism in the way Architects of today practice the business of architecture. There is need for adjustment to the development and advancement of other areas that influence this business.

Let us ask ourselves, can today’s Architect be the Architect of tomorrow? Can today’s fee schedule be the fee schedule of tomorrow? Yesterday’s fee schedule might not be the right one for today.

In conclusion, BIM is gradually changing the future of project delivery methods and the practice of architecture as a business. Therefore, the earlier everyone in the industry gets prepared for a change into a new direction the earlier the transformation within the industry and a changing perception of the Clients towards the construction industry as a whole.


Olajide Ageh