Athird of the engineers surveyed in recent market research on building information modeling say they get a negative return on BIM investments; a fifth say they break even. The perceived return on investment for architects is better, with 19% saying they have a negative ROI and 23% saying they break even. BIM value for owners and contractors is perceived as much greater, at about 70% ROI.

Source: McGraw-Hill Construction

“Engineers are the most pessimistic about the value of BIM, with 12% saying they see no meaningful value from it,” according to a market report, “The Business Value of BIM,” issued last month by McGraw-Hill Construction, of which ENR is part.

Nearly 50% of respondents say BIM use increases project profits. The rest either don’t know (27.7%), see no change (19.5%) or see a decrease in profitability (11.9%). Overall, 63% of BIM users surveyed say they “see” positive BIM ROI. Of those who formally measure ROI on BIM, 72% report positive returns compared with 53% of users who estimate returns. And 87% of “expert” users see positive ROI compared with 38% of beginners, 33% of whom report negative ROI. One fifth of expert users say they get more than 100% ROI, and 19% say they get 50% to 100%.

According to the report, half of the construction industry is using BIM or BIM-related tools, which is a 75% increase in two years. The BIM adoption rate is highest on the West Coast at 56% and lowest in the Northeast at 38%, according to the survey.

Metrics on BIM use are hard to come by, according to the 51-page report, which is available free for download at www For example, 46% of respondents say they do not measure BIM ROI, and 34% say they measure ROI on less than 25% of their projects. It also is unclear whether respondents are using standard ROI measurements.

Survey data is based on 2,228 responses, received via the Internet from May 28 to July 2, from 598 architects, 326 engineers, 817 contractors, 118 owners, 73 building product makers and 296 others. Of the engineers, 53% represent civil, environmental and geotechnical disciplines, 27% structural, 6% mechanical, 3% life safety, 2% electrical, 1% transportation and 9% other.

The biggest chunk of contractors responding are mechanical and plumbing contractors at 25%, followed by general contractors at 24% and construction managers at 20%. Only 4% of respondents are steel fabricators-erectors, 3% electrical contractors, 1% concrete fabricators and contractors, 1% civil contractors and 8% others. No curtain-wall suppliers responded. According to the report, 42% of users consider themselves advanced, though the survey also does not specifically define beginner, moderate, advanced or expert users.

Many users still consider BIM’s best business benefits to be marketing, visualization and spatial coordination or clash detection, says the report. “But significant new benefits are emerging, such as model-driven prefabrication, which 77% of contractors predict will be the dominant value five years from now,” the report concludes.

Some obstacles to BIM adoption, in descending order, are: “not enough demand from clients and/or other firms on projects; haven’t had sufficient time to evaluate it; software is too expensive; functionality doesn’t apply well enough to what we do; required hardware upgrades are too expensive.”

For specific projects, to get the most value from BIM, 73% of respondents say having BIM-knowledgeable design professionals is important. The second-most important factor for BIM value is interoperability among software applications used by team members.

Respondents were optimistic about the future significance of BIM. “About two in five nonusers believe that BIM will be highly or very highly important to the industry in five years,” says the report.