Earlier this week, I read an article in the Daily Commercial News about the future of building information modeling: 

The advent of building information modeling will have a major impact on project-delivery methods, says Ottawa contractor Doug Burnside, president of Dolyn Developments Inc.

“I think we are going to see more design-build projects as opposed to traditional design-bid-build,” he told a seminar at the Ontario General Contractors Association’s 6th annual construction symposium.

“I don’t see it happening tomorrow, but it’s certainly in the pipeline.”

After reading the article, I picked up the phone to chat with my colleague from up North.  I introduced myself. (… I am sure my accent sounded as foreign to him as this Ottawa gent’s accent sounded to me … except I liked his accent! …)

Doug’s comments above were made as part of the President’s Panel for Ottawa’s General Contractors’ Association.  Doug and his fellow construction presidents (Matt Ainley, of Vanbots, a division of Carillion Construction, Frank DeCaria, of Eastern Construction; Tom Kemp, of James Kemp Construction Ltd.) gave brief introductions and answered questions from the conference members. 

"Building information modeling will be mainstream one day," Doug told me on the phone. "It will be like AutoCAD … If you don’t speak BIM, you can’t play."  

To you, Doug’s comments may be a "no brainer."  But to me, they represent the real dilemma that many contractors and industry players will face in the next few years.  As Doug explained, "The real question  for us is: At what point do we buy in?" 

If the construction industry is heading in a particular direction–whether it involves a particular project delivery system, a particular document management software, or a particular process like BIM–the key inquiries are: (1) When does your company join the industry trend?; and (2) How much do you invest in getting involved?  I think the "no brainer" to the first question is NOW.  The second question will depend entirely on your resources available and your ingenuity in finding support from within the industry (such as a seminar given by AGC or ABC).