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Traditional CAD versus BIM Technology: Know the Difference

Mid 2019, I was hired in CIM Technologies – Solutions for Design and Innovation. This company has been acting as country’s leader in providing hardware and software solutions to both local and international companies across Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry and Manufacturing Industry. As someone working in Autodesk’s gold partner, I will end the confusion between the traditional CAD versus BIM Technology. In this post, you will learn the difference between the two.

What is this CAD versus BIM Technology all about? It is important for you and me, who are in the industry to know the difference. CAD and BIM are used interchangeably all the time without knowing that there are overlaps and differences between the two.

What is CAD?

CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. I know a lot of us are using this in Universities as part of the course curriculum. We use CAD in drawing building designs both in 2D and 3D with the aid of a CAD Software (e.g., AutoCAD). CAD is used in order to visualize design ideas into lines and 3D models, instead of drawing by hands.

Disadvantages of CAD

One of the main disadvantages of CAD is inefficiency. Let’s say you are tasked to build a vertical structure. Of course, you will always start with a concept. Then, you will create floor plans, followed by the elevation plans and section views. Take note: each view is created separately. Afterward, using another software, you will create a 3D model as a representation of your drawings. Then, you will create a list of schedule and quantity take-offs in a separate software.

Notice the sequencing of events. What happens if you are to make an update on your floor plan just because your client says so? That would result to revisions of all your drawings, including the 3D model, which you need to do MANUALLY. Time-consuming, right?

Another disadvantage of using the traditional CAD in doing things is the HIGH RISK OF HUMAN ERRORS. Since a project is dynamically changing, we need to manually update all our drawings and 3D model just to cope up. With a project that is time-restraint, the pressure put on the user can increase the risk of errors. Guess what? Time wasted to correct these errors = MONEY.

Now, I watched a video conference and was prompted with this question: Why are we still working with CAD if BIM can solve all issues we are currently dealing with?

Really, WHY? Can we blame it to lack of investment in digitization? Hmm. Maybe.

Traditional CAD versus BIM Technology

I really love this topic. This is what I always emphasize every single time I face a client, be it an architect, engineer, contractor or business owner. When asked what BIM is about, no one raises his/her hand. That’s a representation of how our country is at the bottom when it comes to shifting to digital processes in construction industry. Even I, myself, don’t know the answer, if not that I belong to my present company.

BIM is an intelligent model-based process wherein a building is designed by placing intelligent objects into a 3D environment.

traditional cad versus bim

Just imagine this. You create a 3D model in Revit, and at the same time when your model is done, you can extract additional data, such as schedule of materials, cost, energy efficiency, material specifications and even manufacturers, out of your model. You can also even extract 2D drawings (floor plans, ceiling plans, and section and elevation views) from you 3D model. BIM also supports parametric modelling. This means if you apply a change in your floor plan, all the other views will be automatically updated. How cool is that?


We all know that a project is made up of people from various disciplines. We have architects, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineers, contractors, building owners, and government officials. The problem with the traditional way of delivering project outcomes is its linearity. As we know, this traditional way of project delivery is a common source of delays and lack of communication.

traditional cad versus bim
Linear and Concentric

However, with BIM, all the information (real-time) can be accessed by anyone anywhere, because when BIM is adopted, there is only one source of data, and the data are at the center of the project team. Collaboration is improved and the exchange of information stops on occurring in a one-on-one basis among the people involved in a project.

You can’t buy BIM, but…

I have to emphasize this. BIM can’t be bought, because BIM is a chain of processes, and process is not tangible. It is actually compared to if you are craving for something sweet. That ‘sweetness’ can’t be bought. What you can do is you buy ‘something’ that will give you your cravings. You buy an ICE CREAM!

Relating it to our case, if you are in the AEC industry, what you can actually do is buy software that support BIM workflows.

Now, you have learned already the difference between the traditional CAD versus BIM Technology. The next question is: Do you already have the right tools that support BIM workflows?

Did you like this article? Let littlemisadvencha know in the comment section.

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GiGi EatsEmman DamianCA Recent comment authors
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Wow! This is really helpful for AEC Sales Consultants such as myself. We are not just selling but providing the right solutions to actual problems in the industry. Thanks for this article!

Emman Damian

This is very helpful! I didn’t have idea for both to be honest. I’m much more informed now!

GiGi Eats

This is a world outside of anything I am familiar with! haha!

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