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BIM vs. CAD: Why make the switch?

By David Brown, Senior Associate, Parkin Architects Limited

The question is simple: is BIM (Building Information Modeling) worth switching to from CAD (Computer-Aided Design)?

After completing several major projects utilizing BIM, Parkin is committed to using Revit as its primary software to prepare design and construction documents.

Why We Love BIM/Revit

BIM has significantly changed how we design, document and build a project. In many ways this change is more significant than the shift from hand drawing to CAD. BIM has moved us from placing unintelligent lines on paper to placing intelligent objects into a 3D space.

BIM allows a building to be constructed virtually, prior to putting a shovel in the ground. This process permits us to discover interference and construction related problems before they arise – saving project costs and delays.

Revit also helps us to investigate design options quickly, and to present to the client in a fully rendered format, helping the client visualize design issues.

In addition, the use of Revit minimizes coordination issues, as all views are worked on at the same time. Schedules have a multi-directional relationship with the drawings, e.g., permitting changes in a door schedule to be automatically picked up on a floor plan. Product data can be assigned to components in the Revit model, making the model extremely valuable to facility managers after construction is complete.

How We Made the Switch

Parkin had been using CAD since the early 80s, with AutoCAD being our primary design and production software.

As we moved to BIM, Parkin selected Autodesk Revit Architecture as our BIM platform. Throughout this process, we have continually invested in network and computer hardware, as well as ongoing staff training, to meet the growing needs of Revit.

Our Tips for Implementation

For Revit to be fully utilized, the complete design and construction team needs to be Revit equipped, trained and experienced. Only with all team members on board can true file-sharing, interference-checking and project optimization be realized.

The benefit of a BIM model will remain long after the completion of construction. Turning the model over to the client will provide the client with a live comprehensive as-built digital model complete with all building systems, components and data.

Clients can use the information “as is” to track department and room areas, plan staff moves, etc. But more importantly, they can build additional data on top of the model, such as asset and equipment tracking, staff space allocation, housekeeping and maintenance data.

Building engineering can maintain the model with ongoing system changes so that when future work is being planned, the model will be available with all current building systems, reducing the costs of unforeseen circumstances.

Again, yes, BIM is the way to go. Whether the team uses Revit or other BIM software, what is most important is that all team members need to be using BIM in order to take advantage of all that it offers.

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