WBJ: BIM is touted as a new dimension of real estate investment. What does it mean?
Filip Ryczywolski: In “Geodetic” Vol. 2 (2018) Aleksander Szerner, the president of the BIM for Polish Construction Association wrote: “Naturally, BIM is information, which shows the entire construction process in a transparent way; from the first draft design, subsequent stages of construction and project management, through to its demolition. Using it to prepare timetables and combine with technologies like construction machines, drones, VR/AR and Internet of Things, we can significantly facilitate the process and minimize potential risks.” I agree entirely that this is the real idea behind BIM, which is becoming important in building design. However, just like Aleksander, I think that Polish investments still have a long way to go before they reach the proper level of BIM use.
Is BIM only used in the design and construction stage or is it used for building management too?
At conferences and industry meetings you can hear that everyone is implementing BIM these days. When you look closer, it turns out that BIM is only used for design and only for certain buildings. A BIM model can be invaluable when doing cost projections and calculating materials; it allows for more efficient project coordination, minimizing potential conflicts and stoppages. If you use the technology well, it can save up to 30 percent of the entire construction and maintenance costs.
While there are buildings managed within BIM, most architects and BIM consultancies often fail to take that into account. In our line of work, we often ask: who updates BIM when tenants change and floor plans are rearranged? Other than laughter, we often hear that it is implemented at the design stage and there is no need to update it afterwards. I disagree. Why would building owners implement BIM, which is expensive, if it isn’t updated later on?
How expensive is it?
Implementation (software, workstations, training) can cost tens of thousands of PLN per employee, depending on the building size and the amount of data included in the model. Small and medium-sized companies providing services for investors may not be able to afford it. Meanwhile, BIM managers working for building owners and outside contractors often don’t know all the technical aspects the building. It’s a stalemate situation.
Who should manage a BIM model then: employees inside the company or should it be outsourced?
Some developers and architectural firms have started creating BIM manager positions. We’ve heard from BIM advocates that a newly constructed building was handed over to the owner within two hours and that one of the greatest advantages of BIM is how quickly information can be uploaded into it. But there is a question as to where the data comes from and whether it is verified. Can an outside company that manages several real estate projects process so much information about each building under its supervision? These are buildings that are evolving practically every day during construction. There should be a team of specialists and utilities experts working on the building, both during construction and afterwards.
Ideally, how detailed can BIM models get?
We’ve seen BIM models as detailed as numbering each desk, as well as computers and the employee assigned to them. We’ve seen a model which sends out alerts when certain space is used inefficiently, by measuring body temperature.
Is this common in Poland?
Not yet, these are examples from the US. It’s also important to note that when data sets are different, you can’t really compare two buildings of the same type.BIM is supposed to improve transparency in real estate transactions. Does it really?
When negotiating a contract or the building’s design and during other processes, parties may want to share some details and hide others. A good example is the documentation for the space measurements used for price calculations when a building is being sold. In our 12 years of experience and nearly 6 million sqm of space measured, never have we seen the seller willingly hand over documentation to the buyer. And when the latter wants to measure the building on their own, the seller refuses, claiming it would interfere with tenants’ work. The buyer simply has to trust the space measurements, indicators and parameters the seller has provided. Oftentimes, once the building is purchased and proper measurements are made, the reality is different from what’s on paper.
Is there a solution then? Will BIM become standard in Poland?
While the situation in public tenders for bridges and roads is clear as the construction doesn’t change after being built, real estate is a “living organism” that requires ongoing updates of data, which is often confidential. Does the real estate market need it then? International BIM experts say administrative bodies approving building permits won’t be ready in the next few years for widespread BIM implementation. Still, we hope BIM modelling succeeds in Poland, because it is the right way to go.
Geodetic Board Member, commercial and residential real estate advisor in due diligence, space measurements, legal and standard geodetic surveying and architectural inventories