CAD versus BIM is not a scheduled bout in mixed martial arts. It’s not a fight at all. A CAD (Computer Aided Design) compared to a BIM (Building Information Model) is like a college graduate compared to a PhD. You don’t get the advanced degree until you get the Bachelors’. Likewise, it takes longer to get the doctorate – and the BIM – but the results are worth it.

CAD models represent the physical measurements of the components of a building. And maybe a little more. If you add a tag to a component, e.g. SAE 304 stainless steel, you still have a CAD model, albeit a better one. But if you establish a full-fledged data base of information about the building and connect it to the CAD model, you’ve got a BIM. BIMs come in different types.

The BIM often contains information useful for each component in the building, e.g. maintenance manuals, manufacturers recommendations, specifications, links, et al. BIM also contains much more information, such as dynamic data from sensors, energy analyses, stress analyses, or light analyses. 

If a good BIM had been created during design for the Vdara hotel, the designers might have rethought the notion of constructing a reflective glass, parabolic shaped building, facing South in the desert of Nevada. Then they would not have scorched, roasted, and poached the guests in the pool and cost the owner millions.

The BIM also requires more sophisticated, powerful software than does the CAD. The CAD is most useful to designers, engineers, and constructors. The BIM becomes an even more powerful tool for Operations and Maintenance as well.