Revolutionizing Construction: The Role of BIM in Project Efficiency and Cost Control


BIM is increasingly growing in popularity among stakeholders in the construction industry (Singh, 2017). Many experts in the construction industry want to understand it better, despite its seemingly complex nature. The promotion of BIM as the ultimate tool for collaboration in the construction industry is at its peak. This stems from the fact that many construction projects across the world have been for long taking longer and costing more than expected. Worse still, construction workers in many projects have been known to perform poorly, the reason why many projects drag and use up a lot of money (Snook, 2018). To save this situation, academics argue that improving productivity in construction is the way out. However, this turns out to be not very straightforward as it sounds. Usually, mega construction projects may involve hundreds, and even at times thousands of workers. This includes both the professionals and casual laborers. Managing such a humongous team requires a well-calculated strategy by the construction managers (Eynon, 2016). Many times, the construction managers have been overwhelmed by events leading to substandard structures. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that so many construction activities run concurrently throughout the course of the project. Making all the activities progress in one accord without any conflict is difficult.

A typical construction project may have both the mechanical and electrical subcontractors on the site at the same time (Eynon, 2016). The main contractor is always on the site. While these three groups are working on their respective trades, the design engineers may realize that some design detail needs amendment otherwise the resultant structure will not be structurally sound. It is a fact that the design engineer may not be based on the project site. By the time the amendments are made, the contractor and subcontractors may have already made the wrong step. In other cases, the subcontractors may continue using the old drawings even after the changes have been made. In yet another dimension, the construction manager on the ground may not realize that the required changes have not been made due to the many issues he is handling on site. The end of it is pure conflict among the different trades. Blame game sets in and the project drags even further while an attempt is made to rectify the errors (Snook, 2018). In addition, the cost factor sets in. Such errors in the construction project have cost implications. Without a proper system in place, the construction managers are likely to lose track of the expenditure. From then on, the budget will no longer be in balance with the expenditure, and this may persist through the rest of the project period (Snook, 2018). Likewise, the set deadlines for project completion will not be met. This delays the handover of the project to the client. More time on the construction site translates to extra costs, which are borne by either the client or the contractor, depending on the contractual agreement.


Such cases justify the need for better management of construction projects. BIM has lately been upheld as the absolute tool for handling different project requirements (Andersson et. al, 2016). With BIM, it is expected that the different stakeholders in any given construction project can coordinate better. Basically, BIM assigns each element of construction a unique reference. The element in question must be characterized by attributes such as dimensions, color, texture, material, fixing requirements, positioning, and engineering properties, among others. Whenever any attribute of the element in question is altered, the change reflects in the overall activities involving this element (Galiano et. al, 2017). All the relevant stakeholders are then alerted of the alteration in the attribute of the element in real-time. Whether the manager is in the office or on the site or away from work, he is able to be updated on whatever changes occur.

Research problem

As much as the use of BIM in construction management is widely championed, there still remains a steep learning curve for the use of BIM in practice. Many stakeholders in the construction industry still have misconceptions, misunderstandings, and myths about BIM (NBS, 2017). Indeed, many practicing engineers only hold a college understanding of BIM through a better part of their careers. According to NBS (2017), 72% of clients in the construction industry do not understand the benefits of BIM. There is evidently a need for greater education for clients and construction managers on the varying dimensions of BIM. In a recent survey by the NBS, many clients claimed that they only hear of the cost-saving advantages of BIM (NBS, 2017). Regarding the improved efficiency that comes with BIM, they are yet to understand what it is all about. Likewise, there is a need for a real-life demonstration of the successful implementation of BIM so as to demystify the myths surrounding it.

McPartland (2016) lists the top 10 myths around BIM. These are: i) BIM is only about 3D modeling, ii) BIM takes more time and negatively impacts on productivity, iii) BIM raises construction costs, iv) BIM can only be applied by big companies, big buildings, and big government projects, v) BIM is just a fad, i.e. an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived, vi) BIM only benefits those involved in design and construction, vii) BIM is just a type of software, viii) BIM solves clash detection, ix) Clients do not know how to handle BIM data, and x) the geometry requirements of BIM are too burdensome.

From this, it is evident that the different participants in the construction sector need to be further sensitized on the benefits of BIM on construction management.

Research objectives

The main objective of this research is to investigate the impact of BIM on construction management. For the purpose of this research, the Manchester Town Hall complex has been selected for a case study. This goall will be achieved by considering the following specific objectives:

1. To identify the major drivers for the adoption of BIM in a construction project

2. To determine the aspects of construction management that have shown improvement as a result of the adoption of BIM in a construction project

3. To measure the value of BIM in a typical construction project

Research method

For the purpose of this research, the case study has been selected as the most appropriate tool to use. Yin highlights three conditions that justify the use of case studies in research projects. These are i) When the nature of the research is investigative or exploratory, ii) When the researcher is not in a position to personally manage the site and the participants, and iii) when the subject under investigation is contemporary, meaning it is an ongoing subject in real life. The investigation into the impact of BIM on construction management sufficiently meets these three conditions. For this reason, the case study will be used for this research.

Research Setting

The Manchester Town Hall Complex has been chosen for the case study. The municipal building was initially constructed in 1877. It is one of the few Victorian buildings still existing. It is located in Manchester, England. The building acts as the ceremonial headquarters of Manchester City council. In addition, it hosts several local government departments. The Manchester Town Hall stands in close proximity to St. Peter’s Square and Albert Square. It has been listed as a grade II building in the UK as it is one of the best examples of Victorian architecture, having been designed to a sophisticated finish and constructed to high standards. Having stood for over 130 years, the Manchester City Council saw the need to refurbish the building so that it serves them even longer and better. Indeed, many described the townhall as being in urgent need of basic repair and modernisation. For instance, the entire heating and electrical system was in bad shape and needed to replaced. The windows and roofing were also fast deteriorating and would soon pose an occupational risk if not attended to. The actual problem was not the deterioation over time as such. The initial architects styled the building to overcome the challenges they were facing that time. Victorian cities were characterized by exponential growth and pollution. As such, the architects needed to work around poor lighting, noise, and poor visibility. Starting in 2010, the council considered the use of BIM in the renovation of the town hall complex, despite the fact that it was not specified in the contractual documentation. The construction director, Alan Garbutt, led the rest of the team in using BIM for the project. For the 5 years the project ran, the benefits of BIM in construction management became clear. This project was labeled as a flagship project in the UK that highlights the importance of BIM protocols and processes, with special emphasis on the role of attitude among the team members (Manchester City Council, 2014).

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Andersson, L., Farrell, K., Moshkovich, O. and Cranbourne, C. (2016). Implementing virtual design and construction using BIM. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Eynon, J. (2016). Construction Manager's BIM Handbook. New York: Wiley.

Galiano Garrigós, A., Mahdjoubi, L. and Brebbia, C. (2017). Building information modelling (BIM) in design, construction and operations. Southampton, U.K.: WIT Press.


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