The Design/Build Difference with Michael Chacon and ArchiCAD
Michael Chacon of MAC Architecture|Construction will present his ideas about Design/Build with BIM at an upcoming AIA San Francisco event.
Chacon believes BIM represents a file that has a lot of information in it, and is part of the process that facilitates the implementation of the design into construction. As an architect and general contractor that offers traditional architectural services, Chacon’s designs always have a general contractor’s expertise overlaid from the onset. He and his clients by extension, share in the benefit of viewing every project from both of those positions – therefore his view of BIM is appropriate and beneficial.
Design-build projects are typically led by the general contractor who generally approach projects from a dollars and cents point-of-view. As an architect/general contractor armed with ArchiCAD, Chacon can explore design possibilities while concurrently keeping watch on the construction costs – ultimately building the project within the project parameters defined early in the process..
“I would like to build every project I design. It doesn’t always happen, but the advantage I bring my projects is that I think as an architect and contractor at the beginning, middle and end of the project. I’m able to explore what the client wants from a quality of life standpoint – listening to every item on their wish-list, but also being able to evaluate the cost-to-benefit trade-offs.”
“Not only am I mitigating errors and maximizing efficiency in the schedule, with ArchiCAD I’m constructing the home virtually – so when it comes time to break ground it is actually the second time I’m building it.”
He uses his ArchiCAD file to lay out even small details of the home, such as tiles, counter tops and the like. On a current project, an 8,000 square foot home renovation, the model is serving him well.
“We are currently finishing up the rough MEP tasks, but even now the client is considering changes that will have a design impact and change the schedule, cost and timing. The value of the model comes through loud and clear, since I can’t afford to sacrifice quality. My client wants to see what everything looks like before it is built, know the options and make an informed decision.”
Given the detail Chacon puts into all his models, it is no surprise when he tells us that sub-contractors approach him to “three-dimensionally” coordinate architectural and structural aspects of the projects he builds in ArchiCAD.
“In situations where we have grade beams underneath, I’m able to answer questions such as – where are the drilled piers and other components of the existing foundation system located, can we put plumbing in the slab, where the most appropriate locations for the plumbing lines are. I can incorporate hold downs, major beams, posts, floor framing. We identify conflicts and discover overlaps in the model so it doesn’t happen on the job site.”
“Even now, I’m using ArchiCAD to model cabinets, electrical systems and even audio-video components such as sub woofers in ArchiCAD – placing them in a large cabinet that goes in the game room. My goal is to have the most accurate as-built drawings I can possibly have, so that if I ever have to go back to the model, I can do so.”
That foresight has helped Chacon on occasion when projects are temporarily put on hold.
“One project in particular was delayed for five years. I moved on, but always had that model on reserve and when the project came back to life, I was able to pick up where I left off. It is a huge advantage that I have no re-build.”
Chacon is also making use of the newest version of GRAPHISOFT’s presentation tool, BIMx Docs.
“BIMx Docs is extremely beneficial, especially given my fairly unique credentials and the environment I’m in – residential. I update the drawings to let the sub-contractors know what to do, but I don’t give them new paper drawings every time – I would have a large printing bill that I couldn’t account for. I issue them pdf’s which they would have to go through a special effort to have them printed. On one or two changes, its manageable with printed drawings, but on this large house – the number of changes that require drawing revisions is overwhelming and in lieu of numerous reprints, which are costly, we utilize BIMx Docs to alleviate these costs and more importantly to ensure all drawings used on the project are current.”
“Instead of keeping a paper set on site that is always current, the site supervisor keeps the BIMx Docs file on his tablet. He opens up BIMx Docs – which he can either download in the field or from another location – depending on the cell connection – and walk through it on the iPad to explain the work to our sub-contractors.”