BIM & The Housing Crisis

10Dec15

BIM is all about adopting modern processes

AFFORDABILITY was the big word discussed on the day. Many people made the point that “lack of finance” was not the issue – investors were ready & keen to invest, but the “product” had to “stack up” financially, or “tick the boxes”. In other words, the rental or mortgage that the ultimate end user could afford to pay (based on national average salaries), had to cover the investment costs and return on investment expected. So that was the BIG PROBLEM – the cost of delivering housing in Ireland was too high (and this includes land costs, planning costs, infrastructure costs, build costs, taxes, levies, delivery times, etc, etc). At the same time, we have to be mindful that we cannot sacrifice QUALITY for AFFORDABILITY as before – we just have to look at recent disasters like Priory Hall & Longboat Quay to remind ourselves that Quality is as important as Affordability.

So we can conclude that we need to Build Better Buildings (housing), Quicker and Cheaper.

Well everyone instinctively thinks that is not possible (how can you have all 3? Surely something has to give? If you want better quality, you have to spend more time or more money?). However that thinking is based on the incorrect assumption that we can’t do anything about the way we deliver construction in Ireland. But if we can improve the delivery process, we can convert some of the WASTE that occurs in construction, to more quality, or more value. Organisations like the Lean Construction Institute, have measured that over 30% of the cost of construction is waste (waste is defined as anything that doesn’t add value to the product itself).

Imagine that! Over 30% of the costs of construction adds no value to the building or project itself! What can we do to improve this situation? How can we convert some of that WASTE back to QUALITY & VALUE (AFFORDABILITY)? We may not have much influence on taxes, levies, etc, but we can directly influence WASTE.

So finally, after a long introduction to set some context, I get to my point, and the tile of this post, “what BIM has to do with the current Housing Crisis in Ireland?”

Well, “BIM” is all about adopting modern processes, digital technologies and standards, that will drive efficiencies, productivity, reduction in waste, reduction in risk, to produce better product, and to become far more competitive and relevant in the 21st century. IS BIM itself a solution to our “housing crisis”- NO! But improving the way we do design and construction is defiantly part of the solution, so YES!, BIM is a major part of the solution.

The UK government, as a major property client, have a construction strategy (Construction 2025) to reduce construction costs by 33%, improve delivery time by 50%, and reduce the carbon emissions of buildings by 50% by 2025, and improved process, standards, and the digitisation of the construction industry (through the implementation of BIM) is a key part of that strategy. So those guys believe it is possible to “Build Better Buildings, Quicker & Cheaper” – shouldn’t we have the same aims?

Ireland desperately needs a similar strategy to deliver better product in the local market, but also to become and remain more competitive, and relevant in the international property market. Our strategies, policies, politics, need to drive innovation and competitiveness from the “top down”, with leadership and vision, from our government and our industry leaders, and from the “bottom up” with commitment and joined-up thinking from the people involved in day-to-day design & construction.

Over the last 4 years the UK government have developed the standards, procedures and protocols to support their strategy and the BIM process. They have tested, demonstrated and documented the savings on pilot projects, and they have made all this information, including the lessons learned, available to anyone who is interested. We are in a fortunate position, that we can simply pick up all this valuable effort, to begin to use it in our industry.

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