Glossary December 23, 2020

What’s Included in the BIM Price? BIM Cost.

Table of Contents

BIM is a sophisticated technology that works in many different ways. Understandably so, a lot of companies think that the price of BIM is relatively high. However, this topic is not as easy as it might seem, especially without understanding how to price it or knowing the cost-saving benefits associated with a BIM program.

The basics of BIM costs

First of all, BIM pricing can’t be determined by your regular second-grade equation (2+2=4 or similar). The scale of the project using BIM plays a big role in the amount of effort necessary, as well as the overall complexity of the project at hand. All of that dramatically affects the total BIM price, and that’s just the beginning.

There are many different scopes and tasks that may or may not be involved, and each one of those might change the total BIM price in unexpected ways. Some of the more common scopes of work include, but are not limited to:

  • BIM management;
  • Shop drawings;
  • Scanning for BIM;
  • Structural modeling;
  • As-builts;
  • Trade coordination;
  • Detailing for fabrication, and so on.

Some organizations also have unique methods and metrics they use to estimate total BIM costs. However, there’s still no dedicated method to define and/or estimate the entirety of work that needs to be done (and, subsequently, the total BIM price). Fortunately enough, there are some specific methods to address this problem. For example, at least a rough order of magnitude can be given by using estimates like square feet metrics, linear feet of piping, splitting the quote by several different parameters (by level, by phase, by deliverable, etc.), and more.

Another problem with defining BIM costs is the lack of information in general if there’s an estimate needed at the bidding stage. It’s not uncommon for projects to have nothing but a single sketch as a reference. The time gates are also often limited, applying pressure on BIM service providers to send in rough numbers and risking losing money / outpricing themselves.

Three parts to successfully and accurately estimate your BIM cost

There are three simple parts that you’ll need to take into consideration when trying to figure out your BIM pricing:

  • What kind of service do I need?
  • Can I do the job in-house?
  • What parts are included in my BIM cost estimations?

The first question is all about determining the exact service or services that you need. Since BIM is a complicated mechanic that applies to many different parts of the project, there are different variations and categories when it comes to BIM services, including:

  • BIM consulting;
  • BIM for preconstruction;
  • BIM modeling;
  • BIM project management;
  • BIM facility management.

Combinations of these options are possible but figuring out specific needs is essential to understand before proceeding.

The second question is more applicable to larger companies that require partial BIM services – figuring out if it’ll be easier for them to do their own BIM functions in-house. This required creating an entirely new department of your company or at least hiring temporary staff for your own BIM department.

The costs might be too high for smaller companies but at the same time – any BIM service provider generally offers some of these parts that are paramount for any of the services above, such as BIM managers, BIM coordinators, and so on. Due to that, it might be more profitable to establish a temporary BIM department within your own company as opposed to outsourcing it.

Our third question is much more sophisticated than the other two and includes different attributes and cost estimates, but is equally as important.

BIM cost attributes

While it’s difficult to account for absolutely everything, it’s still possible to discover the majority of different attributes that may or may not influence the BIM costs, and discuss the effects that each of these attributes might have on the final BIM price. Below you’ll find examples of these attributes, including but not limited to:

  • Time. It is one of the most significant parameters when it comes to any project, and it is not an exception with BIM. There’s a lot of different possibilities when it comes to time with BIM projects, such as the time when the first floor is supposed to be completed, or the amount of overtime work needed to complete the specific model in a set amount of days. Clarifying different possibilities with a client is fundamental for both proper scheduling and understanding the concrete BIM price at the end of the project itself.
  • Contract type. There are two main contract types that most BIM service providers are working with – “lump sum” and “time and material”. Each of these contract types has a different approach to both responsibilities and delegations. These cases might include who is paying for a rework in the case of redesigns or revisions, or who will pay for a poor design that wasn’t good enough for the project to be created in the first place? It’s not uncommon for the “lump sum” contract type to cost more because a contractor is including the costs for a potential issue that may not happen.
  • BIM usage. Specifically, LOD requirements. LOD stands for “level of detail” and this number varies depending on the overall complexity of the project, as well as the project type. For example, there’s a big difference between LOD 200 concrete model and LOD 300 architectural model with variable wall thickness, different materials, and so on. Setting up proper expectations and meeting them is instrumental in getting the right balance between project quality and price.
  • Project/building type. The amount of details in the project is also important. The level of effort required to create a standard 3-story office building is not even close to the request of creating a healthcare lab with specific parameters and requirements. Clarification is incredibly important for clients to get a correct estimate for their BIM pricing.
  • Scope. Speaking of building differences, the scope of the project, in general, is far more important than it might seem. The BIM provider needs to have as much information about the project as possible to provide the closest estimates of both the cost and the time required to complete the necessary amount of work. Once again, clarifying questions are not just a recommendation but a requirement.
  • Quality. When it comes to BIM, it’s expected to provide the highest quality level possible for a project model so that the actual contractors and the BIM team, in general, would have an easier time working on the project, up to post-construction.

There are other attributes that can be added in more specific cases, but these are always prevalent in any project type. It’s important to remember that the more information a BIM company has – the easier it is for them to give the most accurate BIM pricing estimate for your specific needs. This also applies to newer opportunities and different methods – to be able to offer them to you, your BIM service provider would have to know a lot of different information, so clarification is the key here.


About the author
James Ocean

BIM/VDC Specialist. James Ocean is Head of BIMspiration at Revizto and keeps everything moving onwards and upwards. From supporting and teaching our internal team as well as our clients, James shows us the ins-and-outs and how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, cut costs, and get all types of projects through the finish line.

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