Published: October 1, 2022

10 Ways BIM/Detailing Saves You Time and Money 


The success of any project depends on the preplanning done before a single boot hits the ground. BIM also known as Detailing allows for a fully detailed virtual representation of your project so every system and feature can be examined. This integrated, big-picture approach allows for condensed construction schedules and reduces overall costs. 

According to Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering, BIM reduces overall project time by as much as 7% and eliminates up to 40% of unbudgeted changes. Minimizing delays and change orders to this extent results in major cost and time savings during construction.   

!!!!!!What is BIM/Detailing

Building Information Modeling (BIM), also known as Detailing, is the process of modeling the subcontractor systems into a single 3D model. This model allows you to examine all aspects of the building in detail to ensure everything fits together during installation. The act of Detailing a project has many benefits with planning, construction, and maintenance during operation. 


Allows for Prefabrication 

The creation of a 3D model through BIM/Detailing allows for the prefabrication of building systems, such as structural steel, fire protection, plumbing, electrical, mechanical piping, process piping, and HVAC systems. 

Accurate prefabrication comes down to the accuracy of the detailed models you’re working from. BIM/Detailing removes any guesswork from the prefab process and ensures every piece is built to integrate into your overall structure. Without the detailed model, BIM provides, most of the benefits of prefab are diminished, resulting in increased rework and change orders. Granted a lot of prefabrication was done before BIM, but the efficiency and accuracy of doing things in a virtual environment are higher than drawing things out by hand. But not everything that works on a computer screen fits in the field. That's why having a field-experienced tradesperson Detailing the project is a critical part of the process. If the prefab is incorrect then the reduction in field labor hours is lost. In fact, inaccurate Detailing and prefab can increase the cost of a project. That is why having an experienced tradesperson Detailing the project pays dividends in the end. 


Efficient Installation Construc

The combination of BIM and prefabrication pave the way for efficient installation. With all the building systems fabricated ahead of time and a spool map to guide the process, installation can begin as soon as forms and braces are removed in a concrete structure and as soon as a floor is released in a steel structure. 

No longer do subcontractors need to wait for access to a floor to start building in place. Once a section is cleared for access, the prefabricated parts are delivered and installation can begin immediately. 

During installation having a direct line of communication between the Detailer and the General foreman onsite is vital. Communication between two field-experienced tradespeople about what is going on in the field helps with accurate Detailing and installation. Many times this is unavailable to contractors but is a key part of the business model at ICON-BIM. We are Detailers who came from the field, Detailing for the field.  


Accurate Scheduling 

Since installation can begin as soon as the floor is released to subcontractors, scheduling becomes less of an art and more of a science. Through modeling and prefabrication, contractors are installing ready-to-go systems instead of building in place. This dramatically reduces the time needed for each contractor’s installation and the scheduling becomes much more predictable. 

BIM also renders all subcontractors’ systems in one place, allowing for simultaneous installation based on the priority, size, and location of each scope of work. Gone are the days of the plumbing facing delays because the mechanical hit a snag and requires re-routing. With all systems modeled and coordinated, the way is paved for more seamless, scheduled, and accurate installation. 


Reduction in Change Orders

Change orders seem inevitable and always manage to inflate budgets and delay schedules. However, with an in-depth big-picture plan, subcontractors can more accurately get in front of changes and write RFIs to solve issues during the BIM process as opposed to working things out when the installation is underway. 

With each system being modeled and visually represented, issues can be identified much earlier and be taken into account during the coordination stage of the project. This leads to lower overall project costs and reduces rework. It is a lot easier to make changes and adjustments in the BIM environment than onsite. 


Reduction in Rework

Rework is another large cause of unpredicted costs, regularly causing overages and delays. The key to minimizing rework is clearly representing how systems coexist in a space and ensuring there are no clashes or system interferences. 

Through BIM/Detailing, all aspects of a build are taken into account and rendered into one master building model. Since all systems are integrated and the scope of work is clearly defined, rework falls to a minimum. 

Faster Installation            


When MEP/F systems are prefabricated, they’re built off-site in an indoor fab shop. This allows for much higher levels of efficiency compared to being built onsite. In a fab shop tradespeople are working from specialized stations geared towards the task they are performing. For example, when copper is being prefabbed, the tradesperson is working from a table with jigs and other items designed for optimal working heights with the ability to keep piping square and plumb during soldering, brazing, or pressing. 

In the field, tradespeople are often working from ladders, scissor lifts, or in trenches, building systems one piece at a time. When systems are Detailed, the exact lengths are determined to match floor penetrations, hanger locations, and avoidance of other trades. The installation process is streamlined and labor hours are reduced in the field when systems are Detailed and prefabricated. Gone are the days of your apprentice walking around searching for another 6” - 90. All fittings and materials come packaged together with the spools. Prefabricated installation is more like building an erector set. There is no need to lay out everything on the floor and do manual takeoff for your cut lengths. It's as simple as piece one connects to piece two and spool 013 connects to spool 014. All of this is shown on the shop drawings, spool sheets, and spool maps. Take a look at some of ICON-BIMs deliverable examples to see what quality Detailing done by field-experienced tradespeople can get you. 

No Laydown Area

In traditional construction, a laydown area is required to store and stage building materials until they are ready for installation. As we progress towards more lean construction methods, access to lay-down areas may simply not be available. 

With BIM, prefabricated systems can be stored off-site until that area is ready for installation. This means delivering directly from the shop to the project with no need for a laydown area. Not procuring a laydown area reduces overall costs. 

Procurement Automation 

When spooling is modeled through BIM, spools are broken down onto a spool sheet. These sheets list each fitting, size and length of pipe, and any required hangers. Since each item on the spool is broken out, spooling procurement is as simple as printing an itemized bill of materials which can then be forwarded through the purchasing process. Gone are the days of manually taking off the entire project to procure material or do a bulk buyout. MSuite and Omega help automate this process and are great tools to use for purchasing and running fab through your shop. 


MEP Clash Detection 

BIM models allow for the coordination of all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems during the detailing phase of the project. Once the population of the BIM model has been completed, MEP coordination and clash detection is started. This process is critical in the BIM/Detailing effort. Having knowledge of how each system is constructed is the most valuable skill an MEP coordinator can possess. This knowledge can reduce the duration of coordination and a lack of knowledge can definitely slow down the process. Accurate completion of clash detection ensures all the building’s systems fit together seamlessly without interference. Having the field experience to know what clashes should be addressed or accepted helps reduce the time spent by the Detailing team in a meeting going over clashes that are field-adjusted or non-issues. 

To learn Why you should care about MEP Coordination, you can read our blog post here


Planned Access - End User Accessibility 

During the construction phase, it’s easy to overlook how a building will be used and maintained post-construction. Every system that is being installed will need to be accessed by future maintenance personnel and current equipment may one day need to be replaced. 

Rendering a 3D model helps visualize how a space will be used once construction is complete. Do access panels give sufficient room to complete maintenance? Are other systems blocking important access points? Is there room to remove and replace heavy or large equipment down the line? Does the building operations team have access to the model from their smartphone? 

A good example of the latter is setting up every room in a project with the ability to open the model in that exact location and see what services are above the ceiling. This helps provide maintenance the ability to see what valves are located behind each panel without having to get on a ladder and open the panel. This is something ICON-BIM knows how to provide its clients and has seen it work great in Hospitals and a variety of other project types. 

Thinking not only about how a building is constructed but also about how it will be used, ensures easy maintenance and upgrades as systems age and new innovations become available. 

ICON BIM Logo MEP_Detailing_Spooling-1Save Time and Money on Your Next Project with Detailing from ICON-BIM

At ICON-BIM, we’re experts in BIM and MEP Coordination. Each member of our detailing team brings a minimum of 10 years of field experience to your project to ensure everything has been thought of before contractors break ground. Our unique combination of innovative BIM technology matched with field knowledge means we detail from the field, for the field. 

Lean, prefabricated construction is the future of the industry and BIM is key to working efficiently and accurately through condensed construction schedules. Don’t be leftover budget and behind schedule on your next build. Plan for success with BIM from ICON-BIM. 

Get a free estimate or learn more about our services. We’d love to discuss how we can bring your next project in on time and on budget! Give us a call for a free consultation 562.549.7561 or email


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