The use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for commercial development has become a global standard in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. By digitizing the design and management of a building project, professionals can more easily track changes, material requirements, budgets and timelines. However, utilizing this technology for residential purposes is occurring at a slower adoption rate despite the advantages of applying its insight and savings potential throughout the project lifecycle.
BIM for residential offers advantages to both for-profit and non-profit organizations. It can help retain budgets, manage homeowner and contractor changes, visualize final builds, and reduce material waste. As urbanization continues to push cities to their limits, this technology will be essential to crafting efficient and affordable housing.
Laser Scan Courtesy of TiverBuilt.
Rochester, NY-based Flower City Habitat for Humanity (FCHH) became one of the first organizations in its area to utilize cloud-enabled BIM and laser scanning for building and rehabilitating residential housing. FCHH decided to take the first step in its digital construction journey by employing BIM and laser scanning technology to streamline the building lifecycle and allow all project documentation to be stored in a single, accessible format.
The affiliate builds new homes, rehabilitates existing homes and offers repair services. While housing prices in Rochester are relatively affordable compared to larger cities in the region, household incomes are also lower with most housing stock priced high or in need of significant renovation. Locally, there are more than 6,000 abandoned homes and vacant lots, making the financial return on investment in many neighborhoods difficult to achieve without subsidy assistance.
In 2021, FCHH partnered with area contractor TiverBuilt to provide BIM services to help execute the design and construction process so that more houses could be renovated or built in a single year. TiverBuilt offers 3D laser scan and BIM coordination services to the residential construction market. Use of this technology allows for the creation of an as-built model that can be updated in a virtual environment.
Rendering Courtesy of TiverBuilt.
“I have been with FCHH since 2013 and up until now, we’ve conducted business as usual,” said Matthew J. Flanigan, FCHH MPA & CEO. “The BIM technology that TiverBuilt proactively brought to us was unfamiliar, but it resonated with me immediately. Some of the biggest challenges we experience, BIM has solutions for.”
Autodesk’s Technology Impact Program, which grants its software to nonprofits and startups using design and engineering for social or environmental impact, provided FCHH with 80 three-year subscriptions for multiple BIM software products to retain the master model and store all associated documentation. Then, Autodesk Foundation training partner Microdesk, a global business and technology service provider for the design and construction industry, was enlisted to assist with onboarding BIM 360 to the cloud for optimized collaboration.
“TiverBuilt is focused on providing BIM to homeowners, so our mission aligned seamlessly with FCHH,” noted Lindsay Prichard-Fox, TiverBuilt CEO. “We also knew that to achieve the goal of full 3D BIM coordination, we’d need more support. Connecting with the Microdesk and Autodesk teams really gives us the tools we need to get more families in homes, faster.”
The FCHH team was eager to trial the new software on a project from start to finish. A rehabilitation project on Child Street offered the perfect testing ground. A smaller build in comparison to previous work, the 1,000-square-foot property contained one bedroom and one- and one-half baths. The abandoned house was covered in asbestos and needed to be fully remediated before remodeling could even begin.
While the FCHH team did not lack in enthusiasm for a new take on their usual project workflows, they knew they required training to leverage BIM technology to the fullest. FCHH would also need to replicate the processes going forward, which called for mentors who could train the group on best practices and guidelines, allowing them to take full ownership of future residential projects.