This new technology will have as much impact on plumbing design as CAD did 30 years ago. The ability to quickly see the results of two-dimensional designs in context of all of the other building features will bring many benefits to both building owners and contractors. Hospital ceiling spaces are crammed full of plumbing/medical gas ductwork and low voltage systems, all competing for critical pathways. These pathways are important to the construction phases of projects, and they are equally important to maintaining these systems in the future. BIM deals with recurring challenges I've had in almost every job I have been involved with, including conflicts with other systems, six-inch pipe in four-inch walls and difficult access to cleanouts and valves. Coordination drawings have been in our specifications for years, but the technology lagged until the more prevalent use of BIM. Two-dimensional overlays do not always catch problems that show up in the field, and contractors are not always aware of the total requirements of all trades needing access/space in the ceiling space. In the past, the only way to handle these issues was with costly changes. Now, better planning through the use of BIM will allow designers and subcontractors to identify problem areas and make changes prior to issuing construction documents or starting building in the field. All trades will have a clear picture of what is in the space and how they will need to install their portion of the work.
What did you consider to be an exemplary MEP project?
Our recent chiller replacement project comes to mind, as it was well designed with contractor input, making the implementation efficient in terms of cost and schedule. All three mechanical contractors we have on our preferred bidders list had an opportunity to review the plans and provide input on constructability issues. Our contractors recommended changes to the documents and pointed out areas for cost savings prior to bidding. With the resulting complete understanding of the requirements and expectations, the changes were incorporated into the documents and the scheduled days were met. The only change orders were for owner requested changes and corroded pipe uncovered during the installation. HBIHealthcare Building Ideas 2010 Spring;7(2):8-12