Drop 2D CAD and BIM Happy!

Hello Everyone!

The possibilities of using BIM tools to generate Documentation and information are well known among many professionals of the construction industry. But seems that this workflow, extracting Documentation from a BIM platform, has not yet been master by the majority of our peers. This is why I would like to take this chance to go back to the Basics of BIM and share some insights of one of my favourite topics: Documentation!

Many professionals of our industry that claim to have an established BIM workflow within their team, still struggle to extract documentation from their BIM models on a daily basis. This happens at different stages throughout the development of any project.

Let me highlight some of the key values that often are related to the key “Pain Points” when it comes to generate Documentation from BIM:

3D Image generated at Design Stage from Archicad. Design developed in Grasshopper and Archicad

Documentation in early stages

Often we hear that at this stage it is faster and easier to use 2D Drafting tools to produce documentation, combined with 3D Models from separated platforms. This is in my opinion due to a lack of practice, which leads to lack of confidence by the user. It is understandable that on early stages of design when design options are produced at a high speed, no many people wants to try new possibilities.

But this misses the point of having Coordinated Documentation and Data from the very early start of a project. Common ways to fix this lack of practice are:

  1. Adequate BIM template to save time during Modelling and automate 2D Data extraction.
  2. BIM Manual & Standards for the team, so the documentation is always up to the company’s standards.
  3. Involve Client to understand the benefits of the BIM workflows at the Design stage.
3D Axonometric view from the Model through out Design ad Detailed stages

These strategies should become part of the resources of a company that wants to be efficient in their daily work. Even if at the design stage one can feel that it takes some more time than it would with a 2D/3D separated workflow, it pays off as the project advances to use BIM. Why is that? Let me share below:

  1. Design is more consistent and reliable: We avoid the risk of having 2D and 3D data that is not coordinated during the design stage.
  2. Meeting expectations and beyond: When the data and documentation comes from a single source, further diagrams, sections, views, details, etc… will always be aligned with the design proposal.
  3. Save time on later stages, better service: This is one of the old good reasons for implementing BIM in our practice. To be more efficient, avoid errors and have a project developed in a virtual environment that can assure that construction will not be full of inconsistencies, delays and over-costs.
2D Detail at the beginning of Detail Design Stage

Documentation For Detailing and Construction

At this stage it is common that most of the practices using BIM, manage to extract part of their documentation from their model. Which is great! But it is common as well that the big chunk of Documentation in terms of Construction Details is produce by a Drafting Army. Not great…

This again breaks the consistency of the workflow and affects the deliverables. It will most likely create inconsistencies and errors. As we all know in our profession changes keep happening even when we are producing Construction Drawings. If these changes need to be implemented in a huge set of disconnected 2D documents, we would go back to the same problems we wanted to fix.

Documentation for Tender stage. Scale 1:50. All Drawings display only Model parts plus 2D Smart Labels, Dimensions and Annotations

But fixing this problem doesn’t mean that we have to model every single profile or screw in our project. We can develop our project using BIM up to a LOD (Level of Detail) and LOI (Level of Information) enough to provide documentation at scales such as 1:20 and 1:10 almost automatically.

Documentation 1:20 extracted from the Model. Some Minimal additional 2D elements are added within the detail view

The Data that we need to display in our drawings would be extracted from the model elements. Smart Tags like in the case of Archicad can display the data in the different parts of our project. In case we want to go deeper to scales such as 1:5 and 1:2 we also have some “Aid Drafting Tools” that can enrich the 2D data of our project. 

But in this case we should be adding this information on top of the document generated from the model. Meaning that any change can be picked up in a coordinated and precise manner in real time. Actually, the same Information Author could be modifying the project and adjusting the details at the same time. This task, even if it has some manual work, can be coordinated and checked easily to ensure it is reliable.

3D Details can be extracted from any part of the Project

The power of 3D Documentation

When using a real BIM workflow the documentation in 3D is much easier to be produced than it was before. In the examples that we share below, this kind of 3D drawing is automatically generated from the model. The geometric and non geometric data Is also automatically updated and almost no amendments need to be made when the project changes.

These type of deliverables can be automated and can be produced as additional information at any stage of the project, from any part of it. Which enhance our capability of improving our deliverables as the project evolves.

In the example below , just a few elements of the model can generate the whole construction detail. As you can see this part of the building is built out of 2 Slabs, 3 Curtain walls (2 for Facade and 1 for Ceiling), 1 Complex profile (Beam) and 2 – 3 walls. In total 7 – 8 elements that can be developed already at an early stage, and enhanced through the project development, can provide very detailed documentation.

2D Detail 1:10 as it looks from the Model. Only Dimensions and Smart Labels are added. Labels display Information from the model elements
This is how the 3D model that generates the previous 2D & 3D detail looks on the 3D Window

The conclusion as usual is to encourage our colleagues and friends, collaborators and competitors to be more efficient and build a Virtual Model as single source of Data. 

Our industry has a bad reputation of being very imprecise and inefficient. The over-budget and over-time in construction is often 10 to 20 percent. This means that 10 to 20 percent of the resources we use for building a project become “waste”. We have the responsibility to change and improve this fact. But in order to achieve this we need a real efficient workflow.

I believe this must be one of our main goals of 2021. A more accurate and reliable workflow leads to a better and more sustainable living environment.

Merry Christmas and Happy new 2021!