Investigating the Adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Design Stage of Construction Projects (Saudi Arabia as a Case Study)
Building information modeling (BIM) is a topic that takes interest of many researchers in the field of construction management around the globe. Further, recently business reports show that BIM is spreading out among the AEC industry firms especially in UK and USA. Thus, predicting the same to be in the Middle East region sounds rational thinking. The aim of this research was to assess the design process of construction projects to identify its main problems and to find out if BIM can overcome these problems and enhance the process of design, for the achievement of this goal Saudi region was chosen as case study considering two different cases, the first case was with construction firm that don’t implement BIM in its design and construction processes, where the second case was with construction and design firm that partially implement BIM in its design processes. Qualitative approach was deployed in data collecting and analysis processes. The data was inductively analyzed using computer software (QDA Miner) based on grounded theory. The data was gathered through two different tools, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the first case’s firm employees, and questionnaire was used with second case’s firm employees as a type of structured interview. The results of data analysis uncovered that the first firm deals with projects following DBB approach such that the firm modifies the designs that come as part of tender’s documents, and the process of modification is very time consuming, in addition, it suffers from too many other problems most of them are managerial problems. On the other hand, the second firm was found following DB approach in its projects, so the firm do the design and construction works. The firm implements BIM partially in the design’s operations specifically in the detailing stage, the stage where the design is transformed into drawing, and the respondents assured that BIM has benefits and save a lot of time and money. However, the process of design at early stages also suffers from many problems like communication problems with the client and the high rate of change orders during the design and construction stages. The research concluded that the design process in construction projects in Saudi region has problems regardless the project’s delivery system, though one of them may be better than the other. Moreover, BIM was found as the proper solution to overcome the design problems in both cases based on case 2 respondent’s observations that clarified the benefits of BIM at detailing stage, and the literature review about how BIM can solve each problem of design. However, the implementation of BIM is not that easy, the results stated that BIM implementation has barriers like the cost of implementation and lack of experienced people in BIM. These barriers should be erased to achieve successful BIM experience. Based on the previous findings, the research recommended that BIM implementation should be in the whole process of design to benefit from the full potential privileges of BIM. In addition, the movement toward BIM under the current conditions of Saudi market and the barriers of implementing such technology should be performed gradually. Therefore, it is recommended to start with a prototype project such that controlling the process of implementation and observing the effect of BIM will be easier.