Using BIM to Coordinate Designs

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has rapidly changed the construction industry in recent years. One of the most powerful uses of BIM is the ability to integrate models from the architect, structural engineer, MEP engineers and others to discover and resolve potential conflicts in constructability before the project moves into construction. This allows the design team to pinpoint problem areas and ensure that there is adequate space for all that needs built, avoiding costly change orders and delays in construction down the road.

Through timely clash resolution reports and meetings, the design team methodically works through the building design identifying issues and determining resolutions. Special consideration is given to traditionally complex areas such as mechanical rooms, shafts, and other areas where many building utilities must be run as well as areas involving structural steel and other critical load bearing items. Clashes between objects are identified and the design team determines a resolution. In many cases, the design models can be updated during the meeting and the potential clash resolved. Clashes requiring more in-depth analysis are worked on later, and the resolution presented at the following meeting.

There are three types of clashes addressed during these meetings:

Hard Clashes

These are conflicts between two physical entities, such as a duct running through a steel beam.

Soft Clashes

These conflicts involve clearance areas around items required for maintenance, installation, or other purposes. For example, an air handler is placed too close to a wall not allowing sufficient space to change out filters.

Time-Based Clashes

This addresses the order of construction in the field, for instance, not finishing an enclosed masonry stair tower prior to installing the pre-fabricated stairs.

As a project moves into construction, all models are accessible in the field for further use and refinement by all trades. Frequently a Design/Build General Contractor will require that trades update their own models with precise field conditions so that in the end, a clash-free, field accurate model can be handed over to the owner.

A properly utilized clash resolution process during design can save a project and owner many thousands of dollars in reduced change orders and construction delays. Its importance in today’s world of budget and time constraints cannot be overstated.

If you have questions, please contact Kenneth McLain at or (814) 237-2180.