Christmas Special

A Construction Carol: The Christmas Ghosts of BIM

Don't be fooled by this AEC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Christmas classic: all examples in this adventure are rooted in real-life experiences in construction projects! As every tale, it offers valuable lessons and insights for modern construction managers.

Scroll down to find what Project Manager Scrooge is up to...!

Written by Frederico Valente
Updated: December 13, 2023
construction technology

In the bustling heart of London, where the clanging of construction echoed through the wintry air, there lived a man named Ebenezer Scrooge. He was a Project Manager feared and respected for his unyielding pursuit of profit margins and his disdain for anything modern that requires re-learning or adds to costs. 

His office, nestled among the pull planning boards filled with post-it notes, site blueprints, and paper schedules, was a testament to his singular focus on tried-and-true traditional methods, and a stubborn refusal to move with the times. A big “Don’t Disturb!” sign hung outside his door. Scrooge’s current project was to be his crowning achievement. A new construction that he recently managed to complete the concrete superstructure just as winter arrived. 

On a particularly frigid Christmas Eve, as the city wrapped itself in the hush of the holiday, Scrooge sat in his dimly lit office, poring over plans and figures by the glow of his computer screen. Scrooge has been hard at work re-negotiating his upcoming contracts and setting demands for the architectural and technical installations soon to follow. The hour struck midnight, and an eerie sound filled the room—a groan that seemed to emanate from the very structure he occupied. Startled, Scrooge looked up to behold a spectral figure materialising before him—translucent and foreboding.

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Past! I bring you tormenting visions of all the work issues you have overlooked in your rush to complete the structural phase of your building" the apparition declared, its voice carrying the weight of years of neglect and disregard. "Follow me, Ebenezer Scrooge, and witness the consequences of letting others take responsibility for their own work quality, instead of working all together as a single team." 

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With that invocation, the ghost sat in front of Scrooge’s computer and logged in to the Imerso.com platform, whisking Scrooge away to scenes from his own project of times long gone.

Scrooge watched as the ghost showed his severe issues with the superstructure he had overlooked. Misplaced openings for technical installations, sat silently as ticking bombs sure to derail Scrooge’s carefully optimised work schedules. He could already hear the technical subcontractors complain and waive responsibility for fixing such problems. Scrooge was shown out-of-tolerance structural columns where prefabricated slabs had haphazardly been forced into fit at the site. The spectre showed him the repercussions of his indifference, revealing the grave errors born from the pursuit of expedited completion at the cost of work quality and dedication to the planned specifications.

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As the vision dissipated and the ghost faded into the shadows, PM Scrooge caught his breath.

“Those are not my responsibility,” Scrooge said to himself, still shaken. “The contracts are clear. I just need to gather documentation to clarify whose responsibility this is, and bring them back to the site to fix everything. There is still time”, he thought, just as another apparition emerged from behind him — a shimmering entity embodying the false sense of luxury and security Scrooge had been feeling. 

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!” the apparition proclaimed loudly. "You believe all is well under your control? Behold the pandemonium currently ensuing at your jobsite, hidden under the surface right under your nose.”

As the ghost moved the project timeline in his Imerso account to the present day, Scrooge observed scenes of confusion and inefficiency, workers struggling to communicate, while wrongly installing equipment in places reserved for other upcoming trades. A chaos of teams stumbling over each other's work.

Electrical tray mounts installed in the carefully planned routes of critical and expensive HVAC systems. Misplaced ceiling plumbing systems installed too low to meet the specified ceiling height clearances. Fire sprinkler systems tactically planned for optimal efficiency, in places now occupied by larger ventilation ducts whose installation teams were long paid and gone.

“So many clashes… Why are the BIM models not being followed?! So little time…”, a dizzy Scrooge whispered under his breath as the ghost stood silently. Scrooge witnessed the mounting costs of rework and delays brought about by the lack of coordination between the onsite As-built status and the BIM specifications. The ghost laid a hand on Scrooge's shoulder as he illustrated how the absence of harmonious coordination and inspection checks between the work sequences hindered progress and escalated collisions.

As the ghost disappeared, the room fell into cold darkness as all the lights went out. Scrooge could see his own breath, as a ghastly spectre emerged menacingly from the shadows.

Without a word, PM Scrooge realised with a shiver this was the Ghost of Christmas Future. In a gust of freezing wind that sent all of Scrooge’s post-it notes and paper red-lining reports flying through the office, the spectre lifted a bony finger towards the Imerso platform.
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Flashing before his eyes, Scrooge witnessed the Open Issues tab accumulate with dozens of alert items by the minute. The platform’s notification bell rang menacingly, as his team leaders screamed for support and requested prompt decisions.

Scrooge was shown a grim destiny, that he was sure would soon be his own. An incorrectly laid roofing structure that will accumulate rainwater that should have been verified and guaranteed for proper drainage. A tilted load-bearing structural column showing signs of fracture and the early stages of a dangerous risk of collapse. 

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Hundreds of clogging bathroom sewage pipes, hastily built with 90-degree bends to save costs with fewer connections, instead of the planned 45 degrees engineered with more parts for adequate drainage. Scrooge's heart sank rapidly by the minute, with the realisation of the mounting long-tail costs of repair and rework that would hunt him well past the Handover of the building to its client. He imagined the client’s angry faces, and forced his eyes shut while covering his ears with his hands.

The spectre lowered his hand and turned. “Please, no more!” said Scrooge, trembling. A sudden wild brightness lit the room, in what Scrooge realised with horror were raging flames.

"...Wiiittnness…" the spectre said in a low, slithering voice. 

fire wall construction by Imerso

Scrooge’s eyes widened, as visions of newspapers sharing the scandalous news crossed his eyes. His crowning building had been flagged at Handover by safety inspectors for tens of thousands of fire-safety violations. Scrooge saw clearly how several metal studs of fire-rated walls had been cut post-installation to make space for technical systems, removing the fire-rating assurance of the manufacturer. 

Learn how one construction team prevented fire wall construction risks at €1 BN hospital project.

Technical equipment installed onsite too close to the structure did not allow for meeting compliant fire-stopping regulations, despite the BIM models clearly specifying the appropriate measurements. The issues had stayed hidden. “Noooo!”, screamed Scrooge. “I always demand that the teams check for all of this! We take photos, even 360 images! How is this possible?”, he said as it dawned on him that photos cannot be used to control measurements and geometries.

unnamedThe building was not allowed to open doors to operations until all issues were fixed and documented. The clients were furiously claiming penalties on cost-of-capital, and day-delay fines. 

Scrooge saw the delight in the eyes of lines of lawyers brought in from different partners to clarify responsibilities. “Is this all the documentation you have from the onsite work?” they would say, pointing at the cardboard boxes filled with email printouts, post-it notes, and paper schematics with red-line drawings that Scrooge had always relied on for As-Built documentation. They would greedily rub their hands together: “This will take months of work to reconstruct what was actually done. Too bad you hadn’t kept proper documentation with the Imerso platform. We’ll see what we can do.”
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The mounting losses were now well beyond a problem to the project accounts, and shaking the foundations and reputation of Scrooge’s entire company.

Shaken to his very core, Scrooge pleaded for redemption. "Stop! I will change! I see now my own folly and stubbornness. I vow to become proactive at looking out for the health of the project as a whole! I will make work quality the driving priority of all works! Every step will be checked before the next! I will start immediately!” 

The spectre slowly turned to face Scrooge, who pleaded with both hands.

“Where do I sign for Imerso? How long do I need to get started?” said Scrooge.

The spectre whispered in a ghostly voice “...Thrree…. daays..” and vanished with a sudden flash, leaving Scrooge alone in his office. 

In the silence, a newfound determination burned within him. He vowed to embrace modern tools like 3D Laser scanning with Imerso for routine control checks, and use modern technology to foresee and prevent problems before they could take root.

From that night onward, Ebenezer Scrooge became the country’s most vocal advocate for setting continuous quality verifications as the ultimate standard for all construction and refurbishment projects. Calling all his team leaders, Scrooge laid his newfound plan in motion to ensure his projects would forever be carried out like clockwork and that all his company’s buildings were set to endure the test of time.

Merry Christmas to you all! 🎄🎁🎅

About Imerso

Imerso is a software platform that combines BIM, Reality Capture, and AI technologies to automate construction site supervision and quality inspections with one simple workflow. We help construction companies cut project risks and delay costs with real-time monitoring of site status and work quality.

For additional reading, check out the 7 Powerful ways of using Imerso to supercharge your construction projects.

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