BIM-Based Decision Support for Evaluation of Architectural Submittals during Construction
Albukhari, Ibraheem Nooruddeen
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Submittal review is a formal process that takes place after construction has begun. All materials, equipment, and processes submitted by a contractor are evaluated for compliance with specifications before they can be installed in a project. For projects that involve unique architectural features, contractors often submit alternatives that entail minor deviations from some of the specifications. To save project time and avoid the acceptance of faulty items that can have a costly long-term impact on the project, thorough assessment is necessary. To improve the evaluation process, this research has developed a structured BIM-based decision support framework. The proposed framework does not reject submittals with minor deviations; rather, it determines the value of accepting them if they conform to the original design rationale and also meet acceptance thresholds for technical criteria. Additional construction and operational costs associated with acceptance of the submittals are also calculated; the contractor must cover/absorb these costs as a condition of acceptance. All approved submittals are then updated in a Building Information Model and recorded in a submittal log for tracking and verification purposes. For this research, windows were identified as key architectural submittals for high-profile buildings. To facilitate their evaluation, BIM is used for modeling and storing design rationale and specification data, which are then utilized by the proposed decision support system. The system evaluates the extent to which the window submittals comply with design rationale criteria, applies multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT) and the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) to assess compliance with performance-related criteria, and also computes the overall utility of a submittal and its related life cycle cost. BIM integration with the decision support tool results in the efficient automation of the submittal evaluation process, thus saving time and reducing subjectivity. Storing the design rationale and performance-related criteria in the BIM also enables specifications to be dynamically updated with the data from the approved submittals, thereby facilitating enhanced building operation. The integrated framework has been validated through a case study and is expected to help project managers make efficient, minimally subjective decisions that include consideration of long-term impact and the best value for a project.