From my personal experience there are major restrictions on freelance professionals entering the world of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and I consider this a major problem because these types of professional are exactly who are needed in this exact area right now. The price tag attached to BIM is known to all in the industry, from the big companies right down to the little guys. But I don’t think these costs hit any one harder than a freelancer who tries to get involved. With an Autodesk Revit subscription costing over £2600 per year, a freelancer is going to be almost certainly forced to pay ‘on the monthly’ which incurs the absolute highest cost of the software at nearly £350 per month. If you want AutoCAD, Recap Pro & Navisworks on top of this you are looking at over £700, per month, on software alone. In my opinion this is ludicrous, especially at a time where many companies, particularly small to medium sized enterprises (SME’s) do not require or cannot commit to a full-time member of BIM staff. They need flexible freelance guys to come in and take the work ‘as and when’ it is needed.
Often the whole reason people use a Freelance basis to work is because they themselves need flexibility, perhaps they have young children or various other commitments or because they already work full time and need to make money on the side. The taking of the sporadic BIM work Widley available in our industry right now would be ideal to many highly professional and competent CAD/BIM technicians and like wise ‘just the ticket’ to many companies, large and small. It could be a match made in haven.
Being a Freelancer who has tried to get involved with BIM I have had to come up with all kinds of creative solutions to try and stay involved with the work I love doing. I have shared my client’s licenses for entire projects. This may sound like a decent solution, but I could only use the license when the owner was not using it, this was between the hours of 9pm & 8am. I would come home from my full-time job and had to hang around until about 9pm before I had access to their license to continue their work for them, meaning I’d be working into the early morning. Juggling this with a new born baby (hence the extra money needed) was an awful strain on our newly formed family.
We use 30-day trials as often as we can and try to avoid running a monthly licence into a new month which can be very difficult, and hard to price for. Straying into that next month could mean losing all profit on the job itself or even losing money considering you may be forking out £700 per month.
The message I’m hearing from the industry and software companies loud and clear is that BIM is no place for individual professionals and that if you can’t afford the ridiculous prices, then tough! I am not sure this is the kind of message we want to send to self employed individuals or small companies who I believe are some of the most useful people to take on the current BIM workload.
I have often pondered if there could be a ‘pay as you use’ scheme for single users of software such as Revit. Yes, I might be happy to pay £330 for a month’s use of Revit, but I mean the whole month, all 730 hours of it. Rather than a count down, ticking time bomb that fills me with anxiety and had led me to say, ‘I’m Out’.
Also, your much less likely to find people deleting software installations form their computer registry and using the 30 day trials on repeat or using ‘cracked’ copies of software and actually paying for such an agreement.