Sunday, January 1, 2017

Architecture Ireland BIM Series - David Power, Cox Power Architects reviews the costs of BIM for the small practice.​

January 2017

Architecture Ireland BIM Series - David Power, Cox Power Architects reviews the costs of BIM for the small practice.

The cost of BIM software combined with uncertainty as to its value creates a barrier to adoption of BIM for smaller practices.

The biggest challenge for architects is not BIM itself but learning the software to create 3d models that contain BIM information.The other impediments are cost and the fear that the software will in some way control rather than facilitate the design process. Fortunately the main software providers (Autodesk, Archicad, Microstation, Vectorworks etc.) provide “slimmed down” versions of their software at reduced prices. Autodesk makes up 84% of drawing software according to The NBS International BIM Report published in February 2016 and its predominant BIM software is Revit.Revit currently retails at a cost of € 2180 per annum ex VAT.Revit LT- its entry level product- is available at a fraction of the cost (€490 per annum). Revit LT is sometimes described as “Lonely BIM” – It does not support work-sharing. Having said that work-sharing, centralised servers, federated models etc. tend to be used on larger projects (typically 3m plus). Architects using Revit LT can still send their model to a structural engineer to be updated. Any Architect working on Revit LT for a smaller project who gets a larger project can upgrade to full Revit on subscription for the duration of the project. Importantly Revit LT like full Revit is component based and supports scheduling and material take off from modelled objects – a key requirement for BIM.



Limited work-sharing. Architects can still work with consultants in a work-shared environment but cannot host the shared model.

No multiuser controls. No clash detection, Copy/Monitor, Shared Coordinates, Revit Server.

No customisation of linked models visibility.This can cause problems on larger projects where linked models are used to reduce the file size of the main model.

No Point cloud surveys. Survey needs to be converted into a Revit model first.

No Decals (images applied to model surface)

No Add on tools 3rd-party enhancements to improve efficiency are not available.

File formats No export to SAT, ADSK, gbXML, ODBC, etc.No import of Sketchup.

Engineering Analysis Revit LT is not suitable for Structural or M&E Engineers due to limited analysis /modelling tools for these disciplines.


No advanced modelling of parts and assemblies or adaptive components which reduces speed in modelling.

No in-place modelling other than walls which reduces speed in modelling.

No massing. Revit LT modelling is component based (walls, floors, roofs etc.) Full Revit allows the Architect to create a form for the building and build in the walls floors and roofs later.


No in-program rendering.However (basic) photo realistic rendering in the Cloud is available free of charge.

No view filters which reduces efficiency of workflow in documenting the BIM model.

Limited analysis of Energy, Areas, Solar, etc.

(Solar studies are available as still images).

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