Implementation of the BIM in the building process could be an excellent response to the administrative issues typical of the construction industry, but it requires significant initial investment, primarily in three areas: purchase of software solutions for building information modelling and management (BIMM); purchase of hardware systems suitable for handling construction databases containing large, complex files; creation of human capital trained in generating and administrating such systems (BIM modellers and managers).
Enterprises find it hard to face up to such costs. The problem is always considered in terms of Return on Investment (ROI), revealing the exponential growth in return on investment. Though less directly, the information published in the literature highlights two key aspects: differences in analysis and in standardisation of cost variables; widely different results depending on the type of design the different case studies are based on. In considering the “economic sustainability” of implementation of the BIM in the decision-making stage of the building process, we ought to emphasise the increased ROI for projects that make greater use of industrial components in architectural solutions, especially those characterised by repeated types, such as residential buildings.
We might note that the BIM promotes “concentration in time” of the design activities. This, in short, is the meaning of the well-known MacLeamy curve, which underlines the fact that while BIM leads to concentration of strategic decision-making in the preliminary stages, it also requires a production process guaranteeing integrated design concentrated in time, which is quite widespread and (at times) imperfect. In practice, cost reduction in projects employing industrial components has been found to be clearly the result of widespread use of connected, repeated models within a master model, a practice which also permits a great reduction in the complexity of the files, streamlining the hardware required to manage the databases. In addition to the economic advantage that results from achievement of better design, quicker, we therefore have a reduction in the cost of implementation of the databases used in the construction project.
In short, we may consider the following aspects strategic, in terms of reduction of design costs: development of open source building information modelling and management (BIM) systems; reduction of the cost of sharing construction databases in the cloud; creation of human capital by universities and training institutes of all kinds.