Barb Checket-Hanks

Just getting off the Building Information Modeling (BIM) issue left me with a lot of interesting information and food for thought. BIM is a beautiful thing. Basically you feed in all the design information you can about all the systems possible, including the design parameters you want to hit (such as energy consumption), and a BIM program can show, visually, how the systems all would work together, how much energy it actually would consume, and perhaps more importantly, how deviating from the design can set things off kilter.

This can prevent a lot of problems that can result from, say, “value engineering,” which changes the original design to lower up-front costs, but all too often has the outcome of actually lowering the design quality, resulting (at least on the mechanical side) in poorer comfort, shorter equipment longevity, and higher energy consumption. In some cases, those changes can affect multiple building systems, like the envelope, windows, ceilings, etc. Likewise, all those systems can affect the operation of the mechanical system.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of BIM is the ability it has to allow the many levels of the building’s creation, from the owner to the subcontractors, to actually work as a team. The building information is passed from level to level, and as each level proposes changes, additions, or subtractions to the system, the effects of those changes are made visible throughout the building.

Correcting these errors is much less costly before the ground breaking takes place.


Viewing the consequences of changes, of course, is what makes this technique so special. Like other sciences that start in the commercial realm, we can foresee this spreading to the residential construction side. One wonders if, like the commercial use, its use would be pulled along by the contractors - or whether this would be something more likely to be pushed by homeowners, or perhaps it would be “incentivized” by government programs.

Being able to predict probable consequences in all areas of life would certainly be a great advantage. It’s something that most of us hopefully learn throughout life, though it generally takes some bumps and bruises for those lessons to sink in (e.g., learning the hard way). A lot of kids aren’t getting that advantage these days - the kids whose moms and dads smother them with care, not allowing them to learn the consequences of their actions.


I would like to apply BIM philosophy in many other areas of life: Life Information Modeling (LIM), Diet Information Modeling (DIM), Health Information Modeling (HIM). Plug in your design intent (what you want to achieve), all pertinent information, and how you intend to achieve your design intent. Did you meet it? What do you need to change to get there? If you met it and you change something, what does that do to your plan?

Say you’ve got a DIM set up to help you lose 20 pounds in a certain number of weeks. How many calories can you have per day to achieve that loss? For starters, you need to know how many calories you take in to maintain your current weight. How does exercise affect that plan? If you want to deviate from your intention, what does that do to the plan?

What are your consequences?

Or, say you want to save a certain amount of money for something special. Say you’re saving up for a 25th anniversary trip to somewhere special. You want to save $10,000 in five years. How much do you need to set aside per month? What does an unexpected expense do to your plan? What about an impulse buy?

What are your consequences?

What is the value engineering in your life? Where have you cut corners and regretted it later? Did it eventually cost more, in some way or another, to correct those situations? These are very personal questions but very important.

Accepting consequences isn’t just a part of growing up; it’s part of living smart. Whether you’re running your business or running your life, being aware of the consequences of your actions gives you more power over the outcomes.

What will your consequences be?

Publication date:03/29/2010