If you are part of the construction industry, you’ve most likely come across BIM software (Building Information Modeling) before, with its value in the world of construction management software becoming more apparent each day. In fact, a recent study by Dodge Data and Analytics shows how it is taking the market by storm.
Of the surveyed teams, 61% found that BIM software reduced project errors, 55% saw a decrease in time required for communication, and 52% reported higher quality projects. The numbers don’t lie; BIM programs are rapidly becoming a must-have in the world of construction management.
Narrowing down the field of software vendors can be daunting. Our comparison report can help put a spotlight on some of the top performing software packages.
In this guide, we’ll cover a range of topics to help better prepare you to find a perfect fit.
Here’s what we will go over:
- What Is BIM Software? (Definition)
- Key Benefits
- Top Features
- How to Choose BIM Construction Software
- Top BIM Software List
What Is BIM Software?
While one of the primary functions of BIM programs is CAD (computer-aided design), it helps in so many other ways. A properly implemented BIM program can positively affect the entire lifecycle of a construction management project.
Primarily, software provides 3-D modeling capabilities that aid AEC (architecture, engineering and design) and other construction professionals with a wide assortment of tools. It brings a variety of functionalities to the table that optimizes designing, planning, constructing and project management.
Pairing a strong construction scope of work with BIM tools can turn a difficult construction project into a more manageable undertaking.
Now that we have an idea of what BIM programs are, let’s dig into some of the major benefits of implementing such a solution.
Key Benefits of BIM Modeling Software
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Even if you are on the fence about adding software into your construction projects, you may not have a choice before too long!
In many countries across the globe, BIM tools have become mandatory inclusions in construction projects. As the benefits of these products continue to bring efficiency and organization to construction projects, you can bet that the adoption of BIM tools will only continue to rise.
Do yourself a favor and jump on the bandwagon before building information modeling becomes a global necessity.
Believe it or not, having a fully represented 3D model of your construction project can head off some serious team disputes before they even start. If there is a debate raging about how a certain portion of the project needs to be done or how it should look, teams can quickly refer to a model.
Taking the guess-work out of a construction operation is vital when pushing for an efficient project lifecycle. Regardless of how one team feels about a certain build, the final design is available for viewing and keeping projects on track.
This benefit also comes into play when clients are going over the final product. If a client raises a complaint about a portion of the project, both you and the client can refer to the agreed upon nature of the operation via a 3D model. If the client and construction manager agreed on the final layout of this model, there should be no customer-facing surprises when delivering the final project.
A construction project is bound to run into mistakes at some point; However, with the implementation of software, you can prevent many of them before they happen.
As your project moves from deadline to deadline, construction professionals can leverage the functionalities to gain real-time visibility on the operation.
If small, or even drastic changes need to be made to the overall design, algorithms present in the system can show the outcome of these choices. This way, there is an error catching buffer present preventing damaging changes from being put into practice.
This predictive benefit also extends into acquiring the correct materials for the construction project. If you were to implement changes to design in progress, software could keep a list of needed materials up-to-date in real time. Fewer surprises mean fewer errors, which directly benefits the efficiency of your construction project.
These are only a few of the many benefits BIM programs can provide. Next up, let’s dive into some of the major features.
It should come as no surprise that the modeling features make the top of the list. Construct and render your projects in incremental steps all the way until the final design.
Modeling can take place in both 3D and 2D, allowing for multiple viewpoints on all parts of a construction project. Compare the real-time construction of a project to your models to maintain a consistent vision of the final product.
Customer satisfaction can also receive a boost from this aspect of the system. After designing a 3D render of the final product, this model can give clients a taste of what to expect and answer any questions they may have about how your vision meets theirs.
A construction project relies on the skilled hands of a variety of professionals. No project taps into one or two aspects of construction exclusively, and this can lead to difficulties with communication.
With project sharing functionality, team members from a wide array of specializations can work on one model and make design changes as needed. Instead of pulling every team together and go over potential changes, each team can readily access a project model, make changes and receive feedback from other members.
This feature further cements communication as a foundational necessity of construction projects and aims to strengthen it.
This targets both customer satisfaction and communication for improvement.
After completing a full render of your construction project, translating it into a presentation for your client is easy. Clients will go crazy over fully-interactive 360-degree views of their upcoming projects.
Hammer out any last minute sticking points with your clients and work together to create a working vision of the project that can last throughout the entire lifecycle of the operation.
With cloud integration built in, clients from anywhere in the world can quickly view and enjoy your render of the envisioned final product.
The variability of professionals isn’t the only mixed bag you’ll contend with during a construction project.
A variety of software suites are often utilized in any given operation. Software that can integrate with a variety of other programs is a critical feature for maximizing efficiency.
With everything in one place you can save time and money usually spent translating data from incompatible programs. Keep using your favorite construction management software without worrying about your files carrying over.
Maintaining a direct line of communication to your stakeholders helps keep the project moving at a quick pace.
As the operation moves from goal to goal, the real-time visibility can auto-generate reports full of pertinent data. This, in turn, can be passed on to stakeholders and project owners.
Satisfying stakeholders allows the project to continue uninterrupted. If you can put any questions or worries to bed before they arise and keep the higher-ups happy, you can save a large amount of time toward finishing the operation.
How to Choose BIM Software
Most products come with respectable lists of features. This does not mean every software tool will include the same functionality. Keep this in mind when narrowing down the perfect choice for your individual needs.
In order to make the selection process as painless as possible, ask yourself a few questions to identify any specific requirements you need from a software solution.
What pain points do you need to solve?
Before you begin looking over lists of vendors, you should get an idea of what problems your new software needs to solve. Identify where your projects have been suffering and consult with vendors to make sure their products include functionality that benefits your operation.
A shiny new system that solves none of your issues isn’t going to get you very far.
Does the product fit your budget?
It’s human nature to see a big price tag and assume the product attached to it is the best. This is not always the case in the world of software. The cost of BIM tools often has to do with the complexity of its features, and some operations do not require complex solutions.
Think about what kind of projects you tackle, and how big your construction teams are. Smaller projects won’t require as much as a large-scale, multi-location operation would. Needlessly adding complexity where it isn’t needed is a recipe for project slow-down.
Does the vendor have a support system in place?
Finding a new BIM program is exciting, but before you go through with any final decisions be sure that your vendor has healthy support options. A few problems are commonplace when integrating a new system, and having a way to quickly get help makes all the difference.
It is also worth mentioning that self-training materials are a great inclusion some vendors provide. This can help new users acclimate faster and get up to speed.
Top BIM Software List
Let’s get into detail about some of the top products. In order to make the selection process a little easier, we spoke to our analyst team to find out which vendors are the top performers in building information modeling.
VectorWorks Architect suite provides a wealth of functionality that caters to a wide array of industries. While it is better suited for medium and small companies, this software package spans industries from architecture to entertainment.
VectorWorks Vision and VectorWorks Spotlight (included within) help automate previously tedious paperwork and aid in creating design documents. With a valuable family of products associated with it, VectorWorks Architect satisfies needs on multiple industry fronts. Aside from the expected 2D and 3D modeling capabilities, the Braceworks module adds design, production, and rigging support.
Here are some key benefits you can expect:
3-D Site Modelling: Use geometric and site model data to calculate change effects on a project. Generate accurate topography accounts through modifiers and reshape site models with precise sculpting features.
Cloud Presentations: Cloud functionality allows your design teams to share presentations from anywhere with a simple drag and drop. Create complex presentations with 360-degree rendering and share with clients.
IFC Mapping: VectorWorks Architect controls and maps IFC data for export to BIM models. Data pulled from IFC information can then assign special designations to non-IFC objects and create IFC parameters that are defined.
Streamlined Section Drawings: Create high-quality sectional drawings through an easy-to-use display without making repetitive adjustments. Use section elevation or orphaned section lines to directly create sectional drawings.
Your choice of BIM software holds the keys to the kingdom when it comes to designing a model for your construction project. Choosing the correct solution is important — don’t make a rushed choice that will cause more headaches in the end. Gather your requirements and then head over to our comparison guide to size up your shortlist of vendors.
How has the inclusion of BIM software affected your construction projects? Let us know down below!