By David Biggs and Jennifer Morrell

Building information modeling, or BIM, has been in the construction industry’s vernacular for several years. Understanding what BIM really will mean to the future of our industry is paramount. If BIM is to be the go-to building concept, then masonry needs to be in the fold. Several organizations and associations are forging the way to make it happen. And, now, it’s time for the entire masonry industry to hop aboard the BIM train.

It’s important to first note that Building Information Modeling (BIM) is not a product. It is a concept – a process – that involves digital models of a building. Several software companies make versions of BIM software. The software creates 3D models that represent every aspect of what a building is or could be, from exteriors to internal function.

Not only will a BIM model house information for all involved to access, but also the software can be queried to determine future possibilities, quantities, etc. for materials. More accuracy in the beginning will lead to fewer change orders later. Decision-making becomes easier, and the decisions more valuable – less estimating, assuming and guessing occur. Time, money and labor can be saved as a result. From the first concept of a building through its maturity, information is shared. A definitive, trackable history exists.

What’s interesting about the concept of BIM is that it is considered a “disruptive technology,” in that it is going to significantly change the building process – perhaps in ways we don’t know yet. Rather than simply enhancing a current building method, BIM is its own method. The 3D model aspect creates useful capabilities, like clash detection, quantity takeoffs, field BIM, direct fabrication and energy analysis. These are known as “value networks.” BIM models also store a wealth of facility information. Scheduling, estimating, site planning for material and equipment laydown, and more features for masons will be essential tools within BIM.