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As demand for construction services rises, maintaining high levels of operational efficiency and productivity is crucial for U.S. construction businesses. However, business leaders have found that there are challenges they must overcome to accomplish this. Between an increasingly stretched workforce, rising rework orders and inconsistent access to building materials during the pandemic, business leaders have to implement alternative strategies to keep their operations efficient and profitable. 

Amidst such challenging business conditions, 44% of construction leaders have reported increasing prices to offset the problems created by labor shortages. Fortunately, modern technology can help alleviate some of these tensions. Building Information Modeling, in particular, has proven to be an effective tool that construction businesses can rely on to improve productivity and reduce costs. 

Why BIM is Crucial for Sharing the Construction Workload 

Before the pandemic, approximately 50% of businesses reported using BIM to some extent, and its popularity has grown significantly since then. With skilled labor increasingly hard to find and rework stretching the resources of many construction companies, BIM can help companies improve planning, test more construction configurations and increase the efficiency of modular construction projects, among a variety of other use cases.

These benefits allow the construction industry to move beyond the challenges that have plagued it in the past. The introduction of construction-specific software can help project managers, architects, engineers and business leaders to design and build innovative buildings despite inconsistent access to human and material resources. 

Four Reasons BIM Will Define the Future of Construction

1. Reliable cost estimates allow effective financial planning in a dynamic material sourcing environment

The success and profitability of any construction project are heavily reliant on business leaders’ ability to conduct and keep to effective job costing plans. Most project managers and business leaders use cost estimates to determine the expense and revenue associated with each project. Even with such widespread use of cost estimation, McKinsey & Company reported that large projects are consistently up to 80% over budget. Effectively predicting costs have been made even more challenging by the trade impact of the pandemic, with base prices in construction increasing by 5% even before COVID-19. Materials that were sourced from international suppliers have become more expensive and coordinating with international partners has become even more difficult.

BIM technology allows business leaders to use real-time cost data and highly detailed modeling information to conduct job costing in a way that considers the latest material prices and project requirements.

2. Shorter Project Lifecycles Empower Construction Businesses to Meet Demand Without Additional Hiring

The demand for construction services is expected to rise even further in the coming years and in typical market conditions, construction companies would hire additional labor to meet this rising demand. A survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed that a staggering 92% of contractors are worried about their workers having the adequate skills required to do their jobs. The lack of skilled labor means that construction companies are limited in their ability to bid for and complete projects.

However, the adoption of BIM software allows business leaders to identify areas of construction projects that can benefit from off-site prefabrication or modular construction. The interplay between these innovative solutions allows construction businesses to reduce the time spent on each project and increase automation. This means that construction teams can serve more clients in the time taken to complete one project with traditional methods.

3. Real-Time Consolidated Plans and Workflows Encourage Collaboration Among Stakeholders

Construction projects almost always require a great deal of collaboration among contractors, sub-contractors, architects, on-site workers and project managers. The extent to which these stakeholders can communicate effectively often decides the efficiency with which the project is completed. Despite the introduction of cloud-based data storage and modern collaboration tools, construction employees still rely on outdated communication methods such as email and chat applications. This can make it extremely difficult for stakeholders to receive a holistic view of workflows and plans associated with the project they are working on.

With BIM technology, all stakeholders view a consolidated project model that is updated in real time to reflect any changes that might come from owners or managers. This also means that individual stakeholders are better able to create plans and workflows that are optimized to meet the latest set of requirements from the client, thereby reducing rework.

4. Project Sandboxes Give Project Owners a Clear Idea of the End Result of Their Projects

Many construction businesses consider rework an inevitable cost of working in the sector. However, rework has become increasingly expensive for businesses. It is also avoidable. With 70% of all rework resulting from design-related misunderstandings, business leaders must find a way to share clear design information early in the relationship. While workers in the construction industry have years of experience to rely on, project owners often find it difficult to visualize the intended outcome of their construction project. Misunderstandings created by this inability are often borne by the construction companies in the form of rework.

BIM technology bridges this gap by providing sandboxes in which construction companies can design and share their vision with their clients. These sandboxes also provide all stakeholders with contextual information to guide their decisions during the project, such as estimated cost and timelines.

The pandemic created challenges that construction businesses had to overcome. Despite these challenges, the increased use of BIM technology during this pandemic could lead to significant changes in the way U.S. construction businesses operate for years to come. The utility provided by BIM technology will continue to increase as construction businesses find new ways to use the insights generated from the software. As pressure mounts on business leaders to find new and innovative ways to increase productivity levels and maintain profitability, the widespread use of modern software is inevitable.

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