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The COVID-19 pandemic has created a necessary shift toward tech adoption in residential construction, along with opportunities for builders to expand their horizons and understanding of tech applications. In his upcoming IBSx session, “BIM Demystified: A Look at the Future of Residential Construction,” available on demand as of Feb. 9, John Brock, a custom builder and founder of Roanoke, Virginia–based BrockWorks, aims to provide builders with an end-to-end view of the building information modeling process.

According to Brock, BIM extends beyond a simple 3D model. He says the process covers a large number of dimensions and phases:

  • 2D, drawings and specs;
  • 3D, models;
  • 4D, time and schedules;
  • 5D, costs or budget;
  • 6D, sustainability; and
  • 7D, warranties and as-builts.

BUILDER recently spoke with Brock about BIM adoption in the home building sphere and the scope of its benefits for builders.

BUILDER: Have you noticed any shift in BIM adoption in the past year?

Brock: No. BIM in its entirety includes multiple dimensions and phases, and there is no one system that processes it all, hence my presentation. Yes, people are accustomed to seeing renderings and 3D models, but modeling is only a part of BIM. If the model does not contain any information, there is no BIM. BIM is a process, where graphical and nongraphical data is stored in a common shared-data environment accessible by all stakeholders real-time. There is currently no system or software that adequately or even at all integrates these phases. In my opinion, there is no BIM in residential construction.

BUILDER: How do you think BIM will grow and change moving into the future? What will it enable home builders to do?

Brock: Today, we have digital immigrants (born before 1980) and digital natives (born after 1980). The majority of current builders and home buyers are most likely digital immigrants, and are not the most tech-savvy consumers. Tomorrow, however, will be a different story. Digital natives will demand and expect technology to integrate every facet of the process, with a click to make decisions and purchases.

I envision systems/software that will integrate all of the phases I mentioned above, where the 2D drawings are dynamically linked to the 3D models, which are linked to the 4D schedule, the 5D estimate, the 6D energy studies, and the 7D as-builts, photographs, etc. Builders, home owners, trades, and subs will have online access to all information and visuals, all dynamically linked through these systems.

Today, builders use multiple platforms to handle some of the various phases, including Co-Construct, BuilderTrend, Excel, etc. 3D may be SketchUp, Chief Architect, Revit, or Softplan.

BUILDER: How have you utilized BIM in your own work as a builder?

Brock: As a custom home builder-designer, I have been obsessed with this topic for decades. We build highly detailed 3D models of all of our projects. I am the author of “SketchUp for Builders,” and I am also the developer of Estimator for SketchUp, which allows us to assign cost data and generate quantity takeoffs real-time with our 3D models. These models are BIM because they contain data.

We are working on a scheduling extension to assign model objects to tasks. This way you can visualize the project at any phase of construction, as well as see the cash flow needs along the way. We are also working on linkage between the 2D drawings and the 3D models.

There is so much work to be done to bring the industry into BIM. I am confident that all of the things I have been dreaming about for the past two decades will come to fruition in the next 10 years or so.