Ten years after it revolutionized the design development of large-scale projects, building information modeling (BIM) software is gaining traction among residential architects, with the power to expand their capabilities to design, detail, and deliver high-performance homes. After all, what residential projects may lack in size, they make up for in complexity.
BIM software takes CAD programming deeper into the realm of integrated design, not only helping architects execute typical massing and siting studies, lay out construction and systems details, and develop sophisticated 3-D renderings, but also adding powerful analytical functions that help sort through potential design options and quickly project their performance and cost implications.
BIM programs can instantly detect structural and spatial conflicts between building systems and components, check for code compliance, and produce updated construction documents throughout the design and construction process. But it’s the instant modeling, simulation, and analysis functions that are expanding the world of sustainable design. From solar siting studies for daylighting and collector placement to fine-tuning insulation, window, and HVAC specs, design and performance are tied together from the beginning, saving time and guesswork for everyone.
Early BIM adopters caution that the software does take time to implement, including building out your materials “library of objects,” and suggest identifying an in-house “champion” who can lead the process. But given the potential benefits, BIM seems to be on a steady course toward residential design. —R.S.