From Competitive Edge to Industry Standard: How BIM Benefits Design-Build and Bridges Labor Gap

By: Kay Kostandy, President of Max 360

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has transitioned from being a cutting-edge tool granting early adopters a significant competitive advantage to an absolute necessity within the AEC Industry. Today, BIM stands as a fundamental pillar underpinning every phase of a project, from design and construction through operations and facility management. Let’s explore a few key reasons why BIM has become indispensable in modern construction practices, including one of the most crucial problems solved by BIM and why BIM is vital for design-build professionals.

Benefits of BIM

Improved Accuracy and Quality

The use of BIM significantly reduces errors and inconsistencies that can arise from the traditional method of using separate sets of documents. BIM models are detailed and dynamic, allowing for automatic updates across all views and specifications when changes are made. This accuracy not only enhances the quality of the build but also reduces costly rework. By enabling all stakeholders to access and interact with the same 3D model, BIM reduces misunderstandings and improves decision-making, ensuring everyone is on the same page. This avoids design discrepancies between disciplines.

Efficient Project Management

Through detailed digital representations, project managers can use BIM to visualize the entire project lifecycle, predict potential clashes and issues and proactively implement solutions in real time –– thus saving time and resources. This efficiency is magnified when adding additional dimensions into the Building Model. 3D BIM, representing a project geometrically, has become commonplace; however 4D BIM (scheduling, sequencing and phase planning) and 5D BIM (cost estimating) enables us to simulate, visualize and manage two of the most important components of a project that often become difficult to track and control. Any project being managed without BIM is at a significant disadvantage.

Cost and Time Efficiency

The precision and efficiency BIM introduces translate directly into cost savings. By identifying conflicts before construction begins, optimizing material ordering and reducing waste, BIM helps keep projects within budget and often ahead of schedule. But BIM goes beyond just assisting teams in saving time and money; it enables design-build teams to deliver projects that achieve design excellence with a high level of quality.


The use of BIM aids in creating more sustainable buildings by allowing architects and engineers to simulate energy performance and other sustainability metrics. This capability enables the optimization of designs for energy efficiency, water conservation and reduced carbon footprints, contributing to the global imperative of environmental responsibility while simultaneously improving lifecycle costs.

Bridging the Skilled Labor Gap

The industry continues to face a significant skilled labor gap, a daunting challenge for project teams and firms to overcome, but BIM has the potential to alleviate the shortage. As experienced craftspeople retire, there are insufficient new workers with the necessary skills to replace them, threatening to slow project timelines, increase costs, diminish the quality of work and ultimately slow down broader industry development. Without skilled men and women interested and prepared for a future-proof job in the industry, projects simply will not get built. But BIM offers a promising solution for bridging this gap by enhancing efficiency, improving training and facilitating better collaboration. 

Enhancing Efficiency on the Construction Site

BIM can significantly mitigate the skilled labor shortage by enhancing the efficiency of the existing workforce. Through detailed 3D models, BIM provides comprehensive insights into every aspect of a building before construction begins. This visualization helps in identifying potential issues in the early stages, reducing the need for time-consuming and costly corrections later. Skilled workers can execute their tasks more efficiently with a clear understanding of the project, which compensates for the reduced number of field personnel.

Facilitating Better Training and Onboarding

It’s important to set your skilled workers up for success, however. The efficiency gained from using BIM is only as good as the equipment, training and onboarding provided to those workers.

The integration of BIM in construction provides an excellent platform for training new field personnel. The 3D models created in BIM can be used as effective training tools, offering a realistic and interactive experience that is far superior to traditional methods. New field personnel can familiarize themselves with the project specifics, understand complex components and gain practical knowledge before setting foot on the construction site. This hands-on learning approach can significantly shorten the learning curve, quickly bringing inexperienced workers up to speed.

For this to work, be sure to equip your foreperson and field personnel with easy-to-follow 3D Models. Create easy to interpret, detailed layout drawings and 3D models that seamlessly guide installation and construction. Having these tools in the field helps avoid confusion, wasted time, mistakes and rework.

Improving Collaboration and Communication

Another key benefit of BIM is its ability to foster better collaboration and communication among all parties involved in a construction project. BIM creates a unified platform where architects, engineers, and builders can access and share information seamlessly. This collaborative environment ensures everyone is on the same page, reducing misunderstandings and errors. With improved coordination, skilled workers can focus on their areas of expertise without being bogged down by coordination issues, thereby maximizing their productivity. Collaborative design-build teams are most likely to take better advantage of model sharing, since the holistic team approach and streamlined contract structure breaks down traditional silos of other delivery methods like design/bid/build.

Attracting Young Talent to the Construction Industry

BIM can also help bridge the skilled labor gap by making the construction industry more appealing to the younger generation. Young people are digital natives, comfortable with and excited by technology. By showcasing how cutting-edge technologies like BIM are integral to modern construction, the industry can attract tech-savvy individuals who might not have considered construction as a career path otherwise.

Ultimately, the use of BIM contributes to higher quality buildings that are completed on time and within budget. These successful project outcomes can elevate the industry’s profile, attracting more investment and interest in construction as a career, thereby indirectly addressing the skilled labor gap.

The future of the AEC industry is built on BIM. BIM is the foundation that allows design-build teams to achieve design excellence, increase quality and productivity and improve lifecycle costs. DBIA remains on the front lines of industry transformation through collaboration. Learn more in DBIA’s Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) Primer and Position Statement. These foundational documents are key additions to the existing suite of Design-Build Done Right® resources offered by DBIA to help keep industry professionals informed of the importance of VDC Done Right. 

Kay Kostandy is President of Max360.