5 Advantages of BIM for Residential Builders

5 Advantages of BIM for Residential Builders

Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs are amazing. If you look online at most websites containing BIM programs you will see high-rise buildings, college campuses, government facilities, and beautiful commercial projects. These massive projects are usually explained in more detail with a testimony on how well the BIM program worked for the builder. Does that mean that BIM modeling just for these big commercial jobs? It seems like some of these companies have forgotten that BIM works for home builders and smaller commercial jobs as well? Here are some ways BIM programs can work for residential builders as well.


  • Quick Start Up and Easy to Learn

For the most part – BIM programs are easy to start off with compared to 2d Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs. I have witnessed both sides on the coin of the learning curve:

  1. Experience CAD operators trying to learn BIM. Some grasp it well, some not so well.
  2. Those who have never used either a CAD program or a BIM program. These people are able to learn the BIM program at such a faster speed. They can open the program up and start putting walls in a new drawing. Granted – they might not be the correct wall size or type, but that would be the next step in learning this program.  There is so much to learn in BIM programs – and it really is not all that difficult.
  • It’s time to change

As a drafter, how many times have you heard that you need to make changes to a job? It was usually followed by an “it should only take a couple of minutes.” In old 2-D CAD programs, doing it in a couple of minutes and not following through meant a good chance that something was missed. Change out the size of all the windows in a basic 2D-CAD program, it could take a lot longer than a minute. The changes had to be followed through – not only to the floor plan but to the elevations, window schedule. BIM programs – make a change to a window – changes are made anywhere in the drawing that window is – almost instantly. BIM programs take nearly 100% of human error of not following through out of the equation.

  • Details, details, details

Need a detail of the wall? BIM programs are able to create details in seconds. Elevation views of a bathroom can be done instantly. No more finding blocks to import of that cabinet elevation. No measuring to make sure you put it in the correct location. Had to change the tub size on the floor plan? The elevation detail is instantly fixed.  Notes and hatching can be added to the details. Need I continue? The power of BIM is mind-boggling.

  • Really Cool Realistic 3D Views

Ok – I admit it; I love setting up the cameras and taking a realistic picture of the houses I create. Not only are they fun and easy to make – but they can give the customer such a great visual of what their house would look like. We tend to forget that a lot of people who are not in our industry cannot visualize what a room on paper would look like in real life. Show them the picture of the upgraded kitchen layout to the standard layout – maybe you can increase your sales. To add-on top of this – you can also do walk through videos of the project.

  • Time is Money

BIM programs have the potential lower the cost for a company in so many ways. Drawings can be created in a fraction of the time that 2d-CAD programs. It can create product schedules for door, windows, and many other products, material take-offs etc.  Its 3D ability can help you see possible conflicts that you wouldn’t have seen on paper.  BIM programs are designed to help the builders build so much more efficiently than the old school CAD programs.

These are just 5 advantages. I could go into more detail, if it would prove valuable. Please comment below and let me know!

Sandy Schooley – Design Professional / Certified Revit User

Gould Design, Inc.

7 thoughts on “5 Advantages of BIM for Residential Builders

  1. Nice report. I can never stress about about how important it is to have as much detail as possible available to the craftsmen actually doing the construction. Any chance you get to eliminate questions on how something is to be built is worth taking. 95% of the time, it’s less expensive to work through the details in the design phase than during construction. Of course all of this depends on the efficiency of the person generating the plans.

  2. Chris,

    You make some very points about BIM in a residential application but there are some shortcomings which should be noted. First the platforms that exist cannot perform material take-offs, this is a myth. The amount of time and energy needed to be able to generate complete and accurate take-offs is counter productive compared to conventional methods. I have worked with very talented modelers and generally anything beyond a simply count, is quicker for me to do in my 2D program.

    Secondly I agree that one of BIM’s strong points is its ability to generate details quickly but a note should be made about what it initially takes. The output has to equal the input, if you spend the time upfront it will pay off at the backend. This could be a hindrance to some builders who do not have the time or resources to dedicate to generating detailed documentation.

    I think that BIM will start to creep into the residential market when the cost of entry comes down and builders begin to see the benefit. It really does have the ability to greatly improve efficiencies in construction, visual clash detection and 3D rendering being strong points.

    1. I have used bim for 6 years for single family residential office tennant improvements etc.
      In 30 hours from start to finish of working drawings for a 2500 square foor 2 storey home.
      As for material take off it is all in the template.

    2. I found a great u tube video showing how easy it is to create a material take off. (this is a simple example – but shows that it can be done)


      Yes, if you have a system that already works great – why change things? Small builders don’t always have the extra man power to implement new things like this into their drawings. The advantage of trying this is, that once you have it set up – you can use it repeatedly if you set up your master template correctly. The BIM programs are going to become more powerful and in that process, the material take offs are only going to be easier to create and even more cost effective.

      Most builders/engineers, have a library of their most common details, which can be inserted in the BIM drawings as well. There are on occasions, in custom residential design, however, that a specific situation would need a specific detail – a drawing specific detail. One that would probably never be used again. I would think, that creating the detail and adding the text, would be simpler than creating a cad drawing from scratch.

      1. At first glance, this video does a great job of illustrating Drew Dana’s point: “First the platforms that exist cannot perform material take-offs, this is a myth. The amount of time and energy needed to be able to generate complete and accurate take-offs is counter productive compared to conventional methods.”

        If you look at what is actually being generated by the report in her example you will see that much of the info is not usable. Note the 30’+ studs in the takeoff for example.

        That said, I have not used Revit myself and don’t know what all would be involved to make it usable for the purpose of takeoffs. Therefore, I will reserve judgment on this product for now…