• David Hessler

Who cares about high fidelity building models?

Updated: Sep 23

Building MEP and Human Interferon protein share some information modeling issues.

The answer to this question is actually really easy: everybody who will pay for mistakes should care about having the right design before they do the work. Unfortunately that answer doesn’t ensure people will put in the effort, because yes it does take extra effort. In fact, it takes more planning, more communication, and more commitment to up-front design and specification. Sounds like a lot of extra work, right? But here’s the payoff: that planning and communication will mean fewer mistakes, better accountability, and a higher quality completed project. It can also save time and money. So if everyone in the building project stands to benefit, why is detailed modeling so rare? My experience with information modeling design for all kinds of things from buildings, to manufacturing processes, to molecular design says that there are three major problems:

Lack of understanding what information is important and the consequences of not having it Life is full of uncertainties. And if we can put off a decision, we often will. Even when designing a house, we might subconsciously hold off on some decisions which affect our design and model. When we put off decisions, it’s usually because either we simply don’t understand how it might affect our project, or we don’t have any timely feedback on how various choices might affect our decision. Lack of technical expertise to build and maintain the model If anything, the plethora of 3D modeling software actually exacerbates the problem of fragmented models. A lot of modeling is restricted to “skin-deep” (appearance) uses, which gives the inexperienced a false sense of security, and leaves the experts guessing about the details. A good information model for a building project provides appearance (inside and out), but also schematic, structural, mechanical, finishing, and project management activities like sequencing and costing. Managing the input and modeling of all that data across programs and people requires real expertise in information management. Lack of commitment to using a living model across the team Even in the case where most or all of the model is designed up front, there is the final problem: drift. Architects and Builders are so familiar with this problem that they have a special process for correcting the design documents after the fact called “as built” drawings. Those drawings hide the pain of missing data that is not communicated during the project. And those problems mean overruns: more time and money somebody has to pay. A good model is not only sufficiently detailed, but “living” which means kept in sync with planned changes throughout the project. That way it always represents a single point to which all project members can refer with confidence. Hopefully I’ve opened the door on why better planning, higher fidelity modeling, and a commitment to actually using and maintaining the model during your project are worth the effort. If so, then let me give you a glimpse of what’s behind that opening door: off-site manufacturing. At Holzraum System, we specialize in creating a high fidelity Single Integrated Manufacturing Model (S.I.M.M. tm) for your custom project, facilitating it’s development and it’s maintenance between your architect, a manufacturing facility, and your builder. This level of modeling allows us to effectively translate your design into manufacturing and assembly instructions. This is not “manufactured homes”. This is high quality, off-site custom fabricated components which make your project go faster, have better tolerances, and ultimately deliver better performance, less waste, and less risk than is possible with typical “from scratch” on-site construction. If I’ve peaked your interest, look for my next post, or find out more by visiting

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