Building Information Modeling (BIM) Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: December 04, 2023
You cannot imagine a successful construction project without having your architects, engineers, and contractors collaborating and combining their efforts to achieve their goals. A building information modeling software system provides an open, collaborative environment for your team to connect and optimize their efforts and time across the construction project life cycle.
Whether you are looking to upgrade your current system or investing in BIM software for the first time, this guide can help you get started. The guide will explain how BIM systems can offer a shared information resource where all your stakeholders can make discipline-specific input. It will present a basic framework to help you select and evaluate the right BIM modeling software. You can also use this guide to learn about the salient features of a BIM software that will give your construction team access to all the required information to make the process flawless while enabling the designers to exercise unprecedented freedom during the project design stages. Overall, it will help you make a more informed purchase decision.
What you'll find inside:
- Understanding BIM software
- What is BIM modeling?
- Benefits of BIM software
- Tips on how to identify your needs
- Salient features of a BIM software
- Closed BIM vs open BIM
- Latest trends
- Assessing the expenses
- Potential challenges
- Popular BIM software
Understanding Building Information Modeling (BIM) Software
BIM construction software is a visualization tool that helps teams with planning, construction, management, and design of building and infrastructure projects. These technology-driven systems are widely used in construction and architecture industries to create 3D models and help stakeholders collaborate efficiently. Having access to a robust building information modeling software will let you optimize and model projects by planning, operating, and building BIM models. They can help designers visualize, simulate, and collaborate in order to maximize the benefits of the interconnected data in a BIM model. Such software systems are typically AutoCAD on steroids and enable users to visualize all the functional and physical building components.
What is BIM Modeling?
To understand what is BIM modeling, you need to know that it is a holistic process of creating and managing digital information for a built asset, such as a bridge, building, tunnel, or highway. It involves the use of intelligent objects to facilitate design, operation, and construction processes in order to form a reliable basis for decisions. BIM models can also be used to explore or analyze design options, documentations, and visualizations. A BIM software for architects combines several layers of information for different infrastructure systems into a single, master model. To put it simply, BIM models support the visualization of a project. You can use these models to build a large-scale construction project from the ground up and represent it all through the project’s lifecycle.
Benefits of BIM Software
Some key benefits of implementing an architectural BIM software include, but are not limited to:
- Reliable project cost estimate
- Improved communication
- Reduced duplicate data entry
- Visibility into project life stages
- Faster ROI
- Centralized document management
- Better project outcomes
- Reduced rework and errors
- Cost-savings on AEC projects
- Improved quality of designs & buildings
- Better decision-making
- Faster project delivery
Goal Setting: Areas You Want to Improve
Before you look out for potential BIM construction software vendors, you need to be certain of your company’s needs and requirements. It is vital that you understand why you need BIM software and what goals and tasks you intend to accomplish with it. If you are aware of your needs, you can easily find the right platform that fulfills them.
Define Your Current Problems Before Seeking a Solution
To select the right building information modeling software, you should first and foremost identify the pain points and deficiencies in your current setting. Point out what needs to be improved so that you can look for a system that offers the functionality you need and is within your budget.
Vendor Shopping: Salient Features
Now that you have identified the problem areas, it’s time to start shortlisting vendors that align perfectly with your unique business requirements. Stick to your building information modeling (BIM) software checklist to narrow down your search to most relevant companies. Compare features and prices of the systems that best align with your particular business type. Seek out recommendations from peers and then browse online reviews of the shortlisted vendors to get an idea of what each solution offers. With the right BIM software, you will be able to efficiently generate and manage the physical and functional aspects of a project.
BIM software construction systems come in different shapes and sizes. With a number of building information modeling software available to users, choosing the right one can seem like a daunting task. Specific features vary across such solutions, depending on the type of business they are designed for, stage in the project life cycle e.g., scheduling, design, or estimating. However, there are some key functionalities you should look for as you evaluate the best building design software.
When evaluating a BIM software for your construction projects, be sure it offers the following features:
- Generative design
- Real-time collaboration
- Multiple board views
- Project scheduling
- Workflow management
- Customizable templates
- Document storage
- Change management
- Resource management
- Real-time reporting
- Mobile support
Change management: This helps users track down issues as they arise. Since construction businesses require approvals for model changes, it allows them to create an audit trail so that everyone can understand model progression and be on the same page.
Custom templates: You can use customizable templates to save time and effort. They allow you to kick off new projects right away, without having to create templates from scratch.
Multiple board views: The best BIM software offers multiple board views. This allows team members to visualize work in their preferred style. You can get different views for every board, including Kanban board, Gantt charts, calendar views, and more.
Workflow management: The building design software that offers workflow management enables you to set workflows around the processes within the project life cycle so that users can stay on the same page. They can set workflows for design, visualization, model simulation, model reviews, model-based takeoff, etc.
Document storage: Document storage feature helps users store project data, such as customer requirements, drawings, phasing plans, requests for information (RFIs), alongside the BIM model. The top building information modeling (BIM) software systems even allow you to store models and data for multiple projects.
Collaboration: An architectural BIM software facilitates real-time collaboration and connects teams across all stages of the project life cycle. Your construction team can stay up-to-date and track changes as they are made to save costs.
Generative Design: The best BIM software solutions offer generative design capabilities and robust modeling features. This enables your team members to quickly produce models in a few steps. You can also modify your designs based on goals or constraints you assign.
Types of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software
There are two main types of BIM modeling software programs that are available to users – closed BIM and open BIM. Deciding which one is the right choice for your construction company depends on your business type and requirements. Here, we will give you an overview of each type to simplify the selection process.
Closed BIM: Here, you and your team members use the same type of building information modeling software and export files in the same format, meaning there is no need for conversions.
Open BIM: In this software environment, construction project team members can utilize different versions of BIM modeling software with neutral file formats. The process results in several different open standards that are being introduced to improve the sector.
BIM and AR/VR: The trend of AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) is helping majorly to improve capabilities of BIM construction software. AR enables you to find out how an element fits into a built asset and detect issues before they occur. VR helps you in studying complex 3D models in an efficient manner. You can get a fresh perspective on your building designs and become more effective in the future.
BIM and Internet of things (IoT): Many BIM software users utilize smart devices in their homes, and this IoT is expected to transform the way installers and modelers function. BIM software for architects can easily store data on the IoT devices used in the area of construction. It also helps you in designing a building with ready-to-deliver materials, which can be transferred directly to the construction site.
Assessing the Expenses
The BIM software cost varies according to the following factors:
- Number of users supported
- Implementation processes
- Contract terms
- Customer support
The Building information modeling BIM software cost is set on a user-based subscription model. The pricing for the best BIM software can range between $35 and $300 per month. Most architectural BIM software solutions also require team members to take some form of training, which can cost you an extra $2,000.
Large file sizes: Building information modeling files are generally large and can exceed 200MBs, making it hard for users to send them via email or download them to mobile devices. Therefore, users find it challenging to handle file size restrictions and reduce file size while importing/exporting data.
Tracking and monitoring: If you have a large number of team members working on a construction project, then it is essential for you to ensure the building information modeling software you use offers version control capabilities and robust audit trail. Moreover, your workflows should be set according to the changes and approvals so that you can track who did what changes and when.
The Top BIM Software
The following BIM software vendors have emerged as market leaders:
- Vectorworks Architect
Choosing What's Best for Your Business
Finding the most appropriate building information modeling software for your projects and business isn’t a walk in the park. Nevertheless, being certain of your business needs and understanding what challenges you face in your current setting can help you make the right choice. The best building design software can help you plan, manage,and optimize construction projects at every stage. It can also provide an accurate representation of the physical and functional aspects of your building process. But you need to choose the right BIM modeling software system to drive better outcomes and improve productivity.