As we pass the second anniversary since the launch of the government Construction Strategy in May 2011 which announced radical change, many are now embracing those changes through BIM at the core.

While individuals, firms and all the professional bodies are all busy updating to accommodate BIM, one of the biggest targeted benefits and reasons for radical change remains largely untested.

The big headline from the Construction Strategy was targeted savings of 15% to 20% by the end of this parliament in 2015.

These significant targets have since been confirmed several times, with clarifications that the savings are expected to come from construction budgets and not from post-occupancy costs.

Are these savings achievable? When asked this question some point to examples of similar savings obtained under Avanti.

This precursor to BIM encouraged the use of technology wrapped within a defined process to ensure greater collaboration between project teams in order to improve the quality and effective use of project information.

The use of technology and defined collaborative processes is also at the heart of BIM.

As the single largest client accounting for 40% to 50% of construction spend, the public sector has been seeking greater savings and efficiency since at least the 1994 Latham Report and the 1998 Egan Report.

The long answer of where these savings are expected to come from is that they will be achieved from a variety of initiatives, with BIM as one of the main facilitators.

Each section of the public sector will have its own money saving initiatives and when combined they are all expected to achieve the 15%-20% target on annual budgets.

Some of these measures will include:

  • Forward announcement of future public projects enticing keener rates from those looking for greater certainty on future income
  • Greater certainty over funding of projects to enable departments to engage with supply chains more collaboratively on innovation and efficiency savings across defined project programmes
  • Greater use of value engineering and lean procurement initiatives
  • Soft landings which seek to reduce the hidden costs of adapting completed spaces to suit specific end user needs
  • Increased use of standardisation to generate efficiency and procurement savings
  • Contractors, suppliers and consultants working harder to beat benchmark targets.

The short answer is that the majority of savings are expected to be achieved by tighter information flow with project designs agreeing with each other by the time essential tasks are commenced.

The cost savings are not necessarily on the upfront budget, but the whole project costs including the variety of extra issues that cause cost overruns.

By following the procedures within the newly published PAS1192-2: 2013 and new aligned documents such as the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 externallink, the top money saving opportunities should come from:

  1. A single BIM model to collect project team and contractors detailing so that all the strands of information agree with each other with clashes identified upfront. This will reduce rework, conflicts, waste and delays
  2. 3D Visualisations and space use simulations which help clients to explore spatial requirements, potentially reducing client variations and scope creep
  3. BIM implementation and execution plans that ensure documentation is coordinated, timely and in an accessible form with agreement on information deliverables to ensure projects progress as planned
  4. Component manufacturing and building tolerances integrated into the collaborative design development process
  5. Project programming simulations to identify the most efficient construction sequences and locations of key elements such as cranes, access and waste management
  6. Closer collaboration with contractors leading to reductions in tender risk premiums, lower insurance costs, fewer overall variations and fewer opportunities for claims.

The new BIM protocols, standards and tools will make it difficult for significant numbers of mistakes to filter through to site and many will be identified while they are still cheap to fix.

BIM is not going to solve every problem that has a cost impact, but experience has shown that improving information quality and increasing unity through collaboration can make projects more predictable.

The targeted savings are being closely monitored and benchmarked by the government. Once these savings are achieved, and it seems that we may get very close, the future of BIM is not a constant round of cost savings. But what we should expect are reduced risks, fewer disruptions, greater opportunity for innovation and increased budget certainty.

The big win is that project data can be used more effectively during the construction process and over the life of a building where even greater post-occupancy costs and carbon savings are expected.

Related reading on

The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 and BIM