Real estate news, construction news, September 2019
Epp Alatalu

Architects and designers have already been introduced to the advantages of BIM and use it. Furthermore, construction professionals coordinate their activities on the basis of the same files. Solutions have been found to problems in interdisciplinary coordination with the help of building information modeling (BIM).

However, the current compatibility does not offer sufficient support to the participants in the lifespan of a building—real estate management and maintenance await an e-platform mostly or have not been informed at all. Urmas Mardi from the Estonian Union of Co-operative Housing Associations apologizes that there are numerous draft legislations, the topic has somehow gone unnoticed, and they have no competence.

The members of the Estonian Real Estate Maintenance Association have discussed the digital possibilities supporting the activity, its CEO Jüri Kröönström confirms. “The house has been described with the same software from an idea to execution, everybody speaks “the same language” and onwards, and the maintenance operators of real estate should find it easy to find cables and pipes that need replacement.” He knows that with the lead of the deputy secretary general Jüri Rass, the lifespan portal of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is worked on to create a solution for them.

“The predominant part of the members of Estonian Real Estate Maintenance Association are small and medium-sized enterprises, and for most of them it is financially impossible to invest in BIM. Besides software, it is necessary to train the people for it all to be beneficial,” notes Kröönström. But he does know enterprises that try it out.

A member of the management board of AS Kapitel, its Development Director Indrek Moorats states that BIM is definitely important in real estate management and maintenance. This approach creates new effective possibilities to manage and use information in complex and intricate constructions being built today. On one side, BIM helps enormously to organize large data volumes, and this in itself is a great value. However on the other side, the systemized data and handling the data skilfully enable a lot—starting from the smarter planning of maintenance works to the possibilities of machine learning. Not to mention the fact that the management-maintenance team can provide their input and evaluate the results in the course of the design and the planning of the building, Moorats notes.


All stages of the lifespan of a building involved

As to the words of Indrek Moorats, it should be admitted regrettably that in comparison with construction, maintenance is only taking its first serious steps in practice, and the choice of the right and reasonable programmes is tricky. Powerful international software has not found much use in our market due to its cost and complexity, and local software developers are only on the verge of grasping possibilities. Therefore, formats which the designers and builders use in their everyday work are mostly in use. Surely, great potential is seen in the open ifc-format, which he favours himself. Kapitel established all its new real estate development resorting to the BIM approach. “Already at a rather early stage, we involve the management team into the whole process to achieve the best possible result emanating from the needs of management and maintenance”, Moorats mentions.

Numerically, there are more real estate managers who are currently content with the situation of using joint documentation and would easily find the documents with correct and clear titles prior to the appliance of compatible software. A 2D image is a great help to an average real estate manager. Let’s leave the 3D and 4D images to the future. It is thought that BIM is no miraculous treatment, you only need proper maintenance software. The existing ones are either clumsy, really expensive or yet incomplete.


Reminet works in the name of solutions

20 years ago, Reminet OÜ was established to offer innovative IT solutions in Estonia for real estate maintenance, following the principle that one of the foundations of the success of every organization is the capability to maintain and manage its assets in the best possible way. This needed a solution which would provide an overview to all the material assets in connection with the organization and their condition, guaranteeing both the employees and the executives an easy access to up-to-date data at the same time. ARCHIBUS software originating from Boston was implemented in 2000, offering an integral interaction environment to all the parties involved—the owner, the manager, and the user.

A member of the management board of Reminet OÜ, Kaia Kirs, speaks enthusiastically about the software used in real estate maintenance; not only because she is an experienced trainer in these topics but also because prior to the interview she spent several hours at home where the sink siphon had to be replaced. If the plumber of their house could have reviewed information about the sink before starting the work, he could have brought the necessary spare part right away instead of wasting time to inspect the situation and going to a store to buy the spare. Information on the house and the appliances used in it can be collected to the software during the activities of the designer and the builder and would thus be handed to the owner with the purchase documents of real estate—just like a car has a logbook. Today, the maintenance operators do not have such precise information, more time is needed, and this is certainly a waste both for the contractor and the contracting entity.

The modelling of a building is important according to her—to think forward and to make information flow in IT solutions via the life cycle of a building. “Nowadays, a house is built for 50 years. The architect, the designer, and the constructor work 2-3 years, and for the rest of the time the house needs maintenance,” states Kaia Kirs. Maintenance is the correct term which connects the topics of management (owner, money, contracts) and upkeep (appliances and surfaces).

The technology connected with the model of a building is not yet comfortable for a maintenance operator to use. Also, the required data has not been agreed upon. With any luck, the execution model of a building created by the architect, the designer, and the builder conforms to how the house was completed but the information the maintenance operators need is different. The data required for their work are created in collaboration between the designer and the builder. For instance, the possible crossings of different elements are inspected in one IT environment. Concrete beams will not be in the way of staircases in a complete building—the possibility is excluded. Maintenance operators must describe the required data already in the design stage of the building. Thus, they receive a wholesome working environment when the house is handed over. Real estate is managed all over the world using the ARCHIBUS software. Solutions for a visualized data model usable in maintenance are sought after together with partners.

Kaia Kirs adds that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has a vision to create a digital twin of the whole environment built in Estonia, but she does not know yet when the digital twin of a new building being designed will become common.

The digitalisation of the construction field depends on how the parties of the life cycle of a building start to understand each other and how different software will interact with each other. This purpose requires jointly agreed-upon standards, i.e. a common language. As the result of a public procurement announced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the researchers of Tallinn Technical University and Tallinn University of Applied Sciences are creating joint rules together with the practitioners for technology to support the information flow along the line: architect-designer-builder-construction supervision-maintenance operator.

Indrek Moorats believes that interesting developments in terms of BIM will be seen in the near future in real estate management with the support of IT-related smartness inherent to Estonians and a peasant-like rational needs-based approach.

The parties to the field of construction—from the architect to the maintenance operator—are creating a joint e-Construction platform with the support of the state, which could be used by the entrepreneurs as well as the state and local governments to share information. In the course of the design and the completion of a building, permits need to be obtained from state departments or local governments for sure. The purpose is to make it as simple as possible—be it a detailed plan, a design permit, or an authorization for use. The platform reduces communication via e-mail and telephone and makes the whole process transparent, reducing the amount of time spent.


Jaanus Olop, the Head of the Design Department of E-Betoonelement which belongs to Consolis Group, describes that all new works are designed, produced, and installed in the BIM software in their enterprise: all the data of the elements are entered into the model and all the data can be extracted from the model of necessary. Often, the real estate managers of shopping centres and office buildings need to make changes and reconstruction works emanating from the needs of the users of the rooms. As compared to the previous times, he mentions that if anything needs to be rebuilt in a building, walls need to be removed or added according to the change in the use if the room, first the drawings of changes and other documents compiled during the previous life and at different times need to be looked up and afterwards studied and combined. One could only hope that all the previous works have been commented and the documents can be found.

Jaanus Olop: “When using the BIM software with newer objects, you can already check the BIM model, when thinking about the possibilities of reconstruction, how different loadings and the addition or removal of walls could impact the building—first and foremost from the point of view of safety. If changes are made, it should be marked in the BIM model to assess the possibilities and options of future reconstructions considering the works completed,” he adds. Moreover, using the possibilities of modern technology is a question of guaranteeing the safety of a building.


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