Building information modeling (BIM) is the creation of a 3D model of a project that allows document management, coordination, and simulation during the lifecycle of the process. BIM allows planners to run simulations that can identify stress points in a building and test airflow of an HVAC system. With it they can analyze the project from all angles, explore multiple options with little or no additional cost, and create a visualization that will help customers understand what the project will look like.
There is a wide variety of BIM apps, each with its own focus and features. Following is a list of some of the best-rated apps for using 3D modeling to optimize the construction life cycle.
- Tekla offers software specifically designed for modeling the pouring of concrete. The model auto-generates drawings complete with formwork and rebar placement, and its automated tools are specific for pouring and molding. For example, objects with the same concrete mix automatically merge into a single unit for reliable cost planning. An online contact form is available to request a quote.
- Revit. Autodesk offers an entire system for construction management called the AEC Collection: an all-in-one software system for architects, engineers, and construction for creating detailed models that integrate across multiple disciplines and software types. Revit is a BIM app that allows contributors across teams and disciplines to work together on a single model. Autodesk also advertises partner services and add-ins for greater functionality. The Revit license can be purchased for $2,425 per year, or the entire AEC Collection package can be purchased for $2,965 per year. A free trial is available.
- Revizto streamlines data and minimizes busy work by creating a single hub for all communications. Users can access the project from any device at any time, leading to real-time management and problem solving. Prices start at $300 per user per year, and customers can call for an exact quote.
- BIM Track integrates with popular management software like Procore, Clarity, and E-Project. Users can coordinate workflow using analytics and user-friendly graphics as well as download add-ins to streamline problem-solving and communication. There are multiple plans available, and customers can call for a quote. BIM Track offers a free trial.
- SpaceRunner by Xyicon integrates with Revit to create a comprehensive management program. Its cloud-based storage program and online portal allow ease of access for the entire team, and its “Smart Sheets” tool facilitates project changes. Pricing can be requested through their contact page.
- SysQue by Trimble. This Revit-compatible program uses materials and sizes based on manufacturing products to create the most accurate pricing and materials lists. The program outputs systems into spool sheets for pre-fabrication, and the company offers 3D modeling services for firms that don’t have the time or resources to master the process themselves. Trimble has a contact page that can be used for requesting price information.
- SimScale. This all-in-one program is a cloud-based platform, so users always have access to the latest version without downloading updates. It supports all standard 3D modeling software, offers unlimited simultaneous projects, and offers access to simulation projects that can be used as templates. There are multiple pricing tiers, and customers can contact the company for specific pricing information. There is a free version available for education and hobbyists.
- ActCAD 2020 BIM. ActCAD offers several types of construction management software, including ActCAD 2020 Standard, Professional, and BIM. BIM has all of the features of Professional, with BIM features for simulation testing. Its Artisan Renderer tool allows the creation of photorealistic images for the creation of custom models in a realistic context. It also auto-converts 2D and 3D file types for easy editing. Each ActCAD BIM license costs $399, and there is no recurring fee.
- Vectorworks Architect advertises to architects as an easy and efficient way to build and test concept designs. The all-in-one program emphasizes creativity and freedom of design while offering data management and algorithm-based workflow solutions. A monthly subscription costs $153 per month, or it can be purchased for a one-time price of $3,045.
- iTWO costX by RIB International offers 5D BIM solutions for estimating and takeoff. It comes with templates to import model data, or users can create their own, and the revision tool identifies changes in the model as they are made and updates quantities automatically. Its network capabilities allow multiple users to work on a single model simultaneously. There are different types of licenses available; the stand-alone license allows just one user, the network allows multiple access simultaneously, and the portable license allows multiple users but just one at a time. There is a contact page for price inquiries.
Being able to visualize a project and run simulations to test the properties of the systems and building materials is a vital element to a successful and efficient construction project.
Thanks to new technological developments, there is a wide variety of tools and features for facilitating the construction life cycle. With a little research, any contracting firm can find the perfect fit for their needs.