Thursday, November 8, 2012

(BUILT)X Virtually? Stops (STUPID)X every time!

When clients – and others – ask me what we do at Collaborative Construction I tell them we stop stupid in the built industry.

Skeptical, they ask, “How can you do that?”, or they say, "That's impossible."

Then I tell them, “We build the building and infrastructure virtually before we ever stick a shovel in the ground.” 

 Built industry folks roll their eyes and say, "Yeah right, that BIM stuff is over-rated.” 

Owners say, “We manufacture our products that way, but the built industry isn't ready to do that yet.” 

The average Joe says, “You mean they don't do that already?” 

 And my kids and their friends roll their eyes and say, “We do that in SIM City and World of War Craft all the time.  What's the big deal?”

So the kids think what we're doing is lame because the gaming industry already does it and does it better. The average Joe is shocked to learn there are people in the built industry who are NOT building things virtually first, and owner's say they want it but the built industry cannot delivery it.

Wow!  Can you say EPIC FAIL?

Plain old BIM has been around now for 30+ years.

When will the built industry get on board the train?

So what does it mean to “build it virtually first?”

First, it means throwing out everything you know about planning, design, procurement, bidding work, construction, and operation and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure. You need to re-think the entire process. Mind sets need to be re-set. Epiphanies need to be experienced. Change is required.

Next design and estimation must be inverted. To build a facility and supporting infrastructure virtually first you need to have a budget, otherwise the entire exercise devolves into “pie in the sky” thinking. Budgets require estimates. Therefore, you need to complete a competent estimate of the cost of the proposed facility and supporting infrastructure and you can then “design to the estimate.” In lean construction parlance this is referred to as the Target Cost Estimate or Target Value Design.

Designs driven by detailed cost estimates – estimates that drill down through every system in detail – emerge as incredibly accurate models of the facility and infrastructure. How handy would THAT be to a constructor, trade contractor or specialty designer? Novel concepts heh? Imagine the innovation and creativity oozing from a room full of really bright specialists engaged in analysis of such a design where different ideas, options and comparisons can be made on the fly while the COST NUMBER fluctuates in real time? Gee, I wonder if quality decisions might be in offing?

And where would that ever happen?  At a BIMStorm maybe?

The foregoing scenario depends, almost entirely for its success, on the integrated team coming together, early, in a big room setting. But traditional legal agreements force built industry stakeholders to operate alone in the bottom of a silo!  Collaborative Construction can help stop the burn of (STUPID)X related to THAT issue.

Planners, estimators, designers, constructors, trade contractors, suppliers, specialty designers, end users and facilities maintenance personnel all need to engage in joined but diverse thinking about how best to create new spaces. The process, driven by the business purpose of the enterprise, creates real value.

Designers have almost no experience designing to a budget. They prefer the freedom of designing in a vacuum. Of course, the design-bid-build procurement model ensures they do so... at the bottom of deep dark silo. As result, even if a facility and or supporting infrastructure is designed in BIM it becomes lonely BIM. Co-locating planners, designers, estimators and constructors early ensures real time estimates of design options emerge and track to the detailed estimate. No design related to any scope of work escapes the estimate. Armed with hard numbers sooner trade contractors deliver more accurate costs for their work sooner too.

Extreme estimating may increase costs on the front end, but the Return on Failure of NOT obtaining detailed cost estimates in advance is well known. Didn't somebody once say (STUPID)X is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result?

When you build it virtually first you achieve a higher quality design faster and the higher quality design is understood more easily and more quickly by the participating stakeholders.

While radical, building it virtually first works. And folks who have tried it never want to go back to their old school ways!

When a facility and supporting infrastructure are (BUILT)X virtually first, the stakeholders involved in the process understand, document, and incorporate the owner's significant project values in the virtual building. Then, in the physical construction phase those values – quality, schedule, sustainability, and reductions in operations and life cycle costs – manifest themselves as extra dollars on everyone's bottom line.  

Welcome to the Collaborative Revolution!

James L. Salmon, Esq.
Collaborative Construction
300 Pike Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Summary of Services and James L. Salmon's CV

Office 513-721-5672
Fax 513-562-4388
Cell 512-630-4446

Collaborative Construction Website

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