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How does BIM help General and Specialty Contractors

July 19th, 2018 BIM

BIM for General and Specialty Contractors

Increasing number of specialty contractors are facing challenges of not being paid in full and in time by general contractors. EPC firms, general contractors, construction companies and all involved at various levels in any building construction project would have heard of it, alike. It seems BIM for general and specialty contractors has the answer to address such challenges.

With BIM offerings like faster takeoffs to get from estimate to bid sooner, increased visibility in market with 3D Visualization, earlier involvement in the design phase and gaining competitive edge; building construction industry is looking towards a bright future. But instances like these are capable enough to slow down the bandwagon.

Understanding general contractors, specialty contractors, what is it that makes them different from one another, and how BIM service providers can help them make profitable growth is the only way out to address such challenges to an extent.

Contractors Significantly Impact Building Construction Projects

There are nearly forty specific trades well within the construction industry itself. They are the contractors, the unsung heroes of any successful construction project. Use of 3D BIM modeling to bring coordination and collaboration among disciplines of architectural, structural and MEP has helped contractors avoid reworks and save cost and time. They now take construction as a process, as an activity; to an all new high where knowledge, education, experience and specialized expertise are way much higher.

Mechanical contractors, specialty contractors or drywall contractors, HVAC contractors or plumbing contractors are amongst those 40 trades. Their performance journey is coupled with understanding safety implications, government regulations, code requirements and the products that they have to install or use.

BIM enables everyone involved in the construction process to access designs and information on processes and materials, and collaborate on the project. It makes a building’s design and its execution more cost-accurate for contractors, MEP consultants, design firms etc. BIM also provides insight into the design’s feasibility.

Contractors are the ones who benefit the most from BIM, as they are the designated go-between for architects and subcontractors. Specialized contractors or specialty contractors are the most knowledgeable and experienced with the task they are hired for, & they are instrumental to the success of any commercial or residential construction project.

What makes a Specialty Contractor so Special?

Specialty contractors are responsible for the completion of one specific job, important to the completion of any construction project. Plumbing, lighting, painting, concrete pouring, heating and cooling systems, or alarm installation are the roles and responsibilities of specialty contractors. They perform most of their tasks or labor on the construction site. They are flexible enough to complete petty tasks in private owned workshops as well.

Contractors have moved on from installing concrete foundations, using steel columns, and building walls with 2x4s and sheetrock, to use tools and techniques from the ever-changing nature of “blueprints” to drones and 3D printing. Contractors are all set to adapt and adopt new technologies being applied to construction across the globe.

BIM for Specialty Contractors

Experience and expertise is what makes project owners hire specialty contractors to maximize their budget and receive the best quality of work for their money. Not responsible only for installation, contractors are licensed to perform specific tasks when it comes to long-term maintenance, repair, and upkeep of whatever they are hired to install.

What is a General Contractor?

Though both, the general contractors and specialty contractors, are equally significant for successful completion of construction projects, their responsibilities differ. General contractors are hired to oversee the total status and completion of a construction project, the specialty contractor specializes in the completion of a particular task.

This does not mean that a “self-performing” general contractor cannot be hired to perform specific installation tasks, but in case they do not have a license to complete the task required, specialty contractor is made to walk in the picture. It is a common sight where general contractors or owners hire a specialty contractor with dual licenses that help them complete the electric, heating or cooling installations, instead of hiring two or three different specialty contractors for completion of each task.

BIM for General Contractors:

Relationships between General and Specialty Contractors

It is more than important that both, general and specialty contractors, stay focused and accountable for the agreements while working with each other. In projects or situations where general contractor is hired separately from a specialty contractor, as such they are not answerable to each other, however; they should stay in sync and work together towards the best interest of the construction project.

Usually, general contractors are supposed to pay specialty contractors for the job done. But for this, it is crucial that they create a contracted agreement for the specialty contractors encompassing terms and conditions for receiving down payments, labor costs, and payment upon completion of the task. They should communicate with each other openly to avoid disputes about aforementioned.

BIM for General and Specialty Contractors

If we look at the offerings that BIM has for specialty contractors, and the ones that it has to offer the general contractors, while their needs as a trade are different, their end goals are the same and BIM is the process to help them get where they want to be.

In fact, the thing that warrants attention is that they benefit from the same tools:

Looking at trends affecting the building construction industry, the race to get cost-effective, managing customer expectations, and abiding by government laws are the challenges they face these days. Contractors have understood that providing solutions is the core expertise of third party BIM solutions providers and with a DIY approach they might not attain a break even easily.

Gaurang Trivedi

About Author: is engineering consultant at TrueCADD. Besides, donning multiple hats, as a website manager and marketing in charge, he also oversees the editorial content, coordinating and managing the website, its news sections, blogs and social media promotions as well.

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