Keith McCloskey & KB Home ProjeKt – Bim and Beyond
August 20, 2018
The KB Home ProjeKt explores future construction technologies that cut costs and labor.
As housing evolves into the future and begins to embrace technology, one technology stands out. Building Information Modeling (BIM). Housing’s transition to using BIM has been slow, much like most any progress related to housing. But, as the BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt team and other builders are finding, now’s the time to adapt and adopt. It’s time to discover the true potential of BIM technology.
On Demand and Downstream
In simple terms, BIM Is virtual construction, providing a digital prototype of a project. And, it turns out that creating a digital model that allows the architect and developer to identify issues is much more efficient than finding issues and dealing with them in the field.
Decades ago, field issues were more common and so was the talent to address them. Now there are labor shortages that have led to inexperienced hands on job sites that have no knowledge to deal with surprises.
“Every project is a fast track project now so we have to find ways to do more with less,” says Josh Bone, construction technology specialist at DeWalt. “And you have to be confident that it is going to work and that it is quality engineered. With BIM, you can find issues, and if you update it, it updates the model, the schedule and everything is linked and coordinated. If I see a laminated beam that is too low and not giving the clearance that we need, we can see that and resolve it in the computer as opposed to in the field, where it is more expensive and time consuming to solve.”
That real time information about changes and estimates is one of the biggest inherent benefits of BIM, according to Clark Ellis, CEO and co-founder at Continuum Advisors. The models have to be built intelligently in order for it to work right, and when they are, it creates accuracy and efficiency in every stage of the design, engineering and construction, which is incredibly important in prefabrication, the construction method for the KB Home ProjeKt.
“The big thing now is the MEP system and making sure that it fits in the walls and above ceiling,” says Bone. “That’s where the most opportunity is, especially with prefabrication. On the prefab side, everything is speeding up and we want things to be so tight. Now companies are prefabricating everything from pipe, to all conduits, that are fitted together ready to go.”
It’s all evolving to a DFMA – design for manufacturing and assembly – process and generative design that can eventually lead to full volumetric offsite construction. Plus, Bone points out, that robotics will be more and more integrated into the process.
Reaping the Rewards
When you look at the numbers, BIM can make a very powerful case for itself.
“On a typical project, there is about 10% to 12 waste,” Bone says. “By using BIM, it can be reduced to 3% to 4% waste.”
Plus, here is a compelling example of how much a single clash can cost in the field if not detected early in BIM. In this example, the exact beam measurement was determined in BIM and then carried throughout the design and construction process, versus figuring it out in the field. With numbers based on the Association of General Contractors BIM Curriculum, the beam measures 24×55, costs $2,500 and cutting a hole for it in the shop costs only $210 for a total of $2,710. So let’s consider this same situation where the wrong sized beam is used because the BIM information wasn’t managing the accuracy, and an 8×28 beam is used instead. Without the guardrails of BIM, the project is now down the cost of the original incorrect beam, purchasing a new beam, the cost to remove the old beam, the cost to install a new beam, cutting a hole on site instead of being able to cut it in the factory, adding up to hard costs of $4,664, which is a 42% increase.
And that cost continues to escalate if you start adding on the soft costs. It takes five days from the schedule at a total cost of $22,000, and not even including the five days delay to the other trades, the cost of the five days lost and the liquidated damages.
In designing the ProjeKt, architect KTGY Architecture + Planning, used BIM to drive efficiencies and to model the performance and operation of the house. BIM allowed for clash detection and to manage the value engineering process. Here Keith McCloskey, executive director of design at KTGY, shares his insight on using these technologies to design.
A Step Forward in the Future
BIM may be a step into the future for many builders, but it is already a part of the past for these technologies.
“Reality capture is a big deal right now,” says Bone. “You can actually look at percentage complete, knowing how much of the building is done today with a laser scanner, compared to the model. It will also evaluate tolerances based on the model, which would allow people to stop and make adjustments at the right time and place, driving better quality.”
Ellis also is thinking about the evolution of BIM with virtual reality. He sees a way for national builders to create a system that bridges access to all nationwide offices to walk a prototype at the same time. And, on the sales side, it has huge potential, giving buyers the ability to interact with the product in a sales center environment, without the builder’s huge investment in building the actual product.
Virtual reality also is creating enormous collaboration possibilities. For instance, Nvidia’s Holodeck platform, recently featured in BUILDER, allows designers to import CAD models, so multiple users can navigate them as if they were a real structure, as well as edit and manipulate designs. The product allows users to take 360-degree screenshots and create video recordings of virtual meetings that can track design progress or archive for future use; “teleport” to different floors and elevations of any virtual structure; and test different lighting schemes to visualize how lights and shadows impact the plans.