In response to a discussion at a Group I belong to on Linked IN (BIM for Owners) I got a little lengthy. I'm not sure that those without Linked In accounts can view the discussion, so I have re-posted it here.
I think the “Why” of BIM is directly related to where it is applied in the building lifecycle.
In the early design stage the owner benefits from 3D visual communication of the designer’s ideas. Being visual creatures, we can conceptualize a condition much easier when presented with a 3D image. Now if you can exam that condition in 3D from all angles easily, well, all the better. This benefits the Owner by creating a common language (visual language) that everyone involved can comment on. Owners and Designers both will know they are “on the same page.”
In the Late design/ Pre-Construction stage visualization helps as well. Again everyone can understand a particular condition better when they can exam a virtual model of that condition. Models can also be investigated semi-automatically for Spatial Coordination issues involving the Building’s Systems (Clash Detection.) The Owner Benefits at this stage in Cost and Schedule. If we can immediately agree what a condition is through the model (whether it is right, wrong, or indifferent) then we can move to the real discussion of Constructability and how it relates to Design intent. We don’t have to spend time sketching and having “deep discussions” (OK Arguing) about what we “think” the condition is. That churn effects schedule. If Contractors have a more clear idea of Design intent due to a well built model, the Owner saves money (and time) with a reduction of RFIs and Change Orders.
At handoff, the Owner benefits when the BIM contains data such as O&M, Specs, and Warranties. When that happens we eliminate the “boxes and boxes” of handoff docs and provide a model that can serve as a repository for all of that information.
The model can then serve as a start for a FM database. Currently that information is usually exported to a “traditional” FM database, but there are solutions to allow that information live on in the visual environment of the BIM. As we develop more and better solutions that allow Owners and Operators to access data in a rich visual environment, then Owner’s will see dramatic returns in efficiencies and quality.