5D BIM is revolutionizing pre-construction and early design while saving owners time and money

There’s long been a sizable void in the pre-construction and conceptual design process. Traditionally, early architectural concepts and designs have been little more than sketches, loose floor plans, and area discussions — an owner and architect discussing aesthetics, facility needs and the vision for a new facility, or changes to an existing facility.

While early conversations are vital to a project’s success, owners were not able to truly evaluate a conceptual design, let alone assess a project’s budget and schedule. Likewise, builders couldn’t weigh in on phasing and constructability.

Today, 5D Macro-BIM is helping to fill that void in a timely fashion.


5D BIM, or five-dimensional building information modeling, is the real-time extraction or development of fully valued parametric building components within a virtual model. It allows experienced users to create models that demonstrate how changes to materials,

layouts, square footage and other design elements not only affect the appearance of a facility, but also the cost and schedule of construction. It’s a type of Macro BIM, which is a technology that allows estimators to model facilities at the earliest stages of design.

Filling the pre- construction and early design void 5D BIM

The goal of traditional pre-construction and early design conceptualization has been to create a “frozen design.” Instead of an evolving design, the idea is to create architectural drawings that aren’t subject to change. They’re the drawings contractors ultimately build. But because early-stage drawings have been so imprecise, it’s been difficult to get to an accurate “frozen design” stage and fully ascertain all details of design intent — i.e. how facilities will work, how they’ll be built and what they’ll cost. As a result, the process can cause unplanned, costly, time-consuming design changes during the construction stage of many projects.

Pre-construction and early-stage design is a crucial time period that requires consensus on the scope of work — based on the owner’s needs and expectations — and accurate cost estimations for project deliverables. Today, using 5D BIM, owners, architects, builders and engineers can sit down together at the earliest stages of design to discuss not only their current design, but also how design revisions or alternatives will affect their project from its earliest stages to completion. From appearance and price to schedule and constructability, all elements can be seen and evaluated.


5D Macro BIM tools are used in conjunction with Micro BIM tools, such as Revit, that model latter stages of design. Combined with senior estimation knowledge and a database of construction and materials costs, using a 5D approach enables all stakeholders to create a set design and a clear, precise project scope.

Benefits of 5D Macro -BIM

5D Macro BIM allows every element from square footages to pricing, timing, layouts and more to be conceptualized. With the guidance of a full project team and estimation experts, owners can make truly informed decisions and be confident in getting the right facility. Using BIM in a 5D approach allows a strong vision to crystalize early in the process so each element and detail of a build aligns with big picture goals.

The specific points of value 5D Macro-BIM offers include:

5D BIM is a natural fit in the Design -Build process

Using 5D Marco-BIM is a natural fit for the Design-Build delivery method. In Design-Build, one entity is contractually responsible for delivering all aspects of a build, from architectural design and engineering to construction and specialty construction. An integrated Design-Builder may hire subcontractors and subcontract design to specialty architects. But the crux of Design-Build is that everyone is on the same team, working together from the very beginning of a project. In traditional models of construction, design is completed by an architect before a contractor can weigh in on cost, schedule and constructability. In Design-Build, the entire project team can provide ideas to save cost and time.

5D modeling efficiently enables construction professionals to present how ideas look and how costs will be affected. By combining the Design-Build method with 5D Macro-BIM technology, owners receive the absolute best-value solutions for design, cost, schedule and constructability.