UK start-up BuilderStorm seems focused on the SME contractor market, and it is claiming to be BIM level 2 compliant.
A relatively recent arrival on the UK SaaS construction software landscape is BuilderStorm. Incorporated in Brighton in 2014 and now based in Horsham in Sussex, BuilderStorm was founded by construction project engineer David Lawrence and software developer James Sandwick, and provides cloud-based construction management software that aims to cover almost every aspect of running a contracting business, whether it is involved with small-scale house extensions or multi-million pound projects.
Like many small start-ups, the business faced early challenges in scaling up its operations, as Lawrence recalled: “I know we have a great product, but sometimes it was lost on potential clients because we were just a small company.” However, the founders raised money in late 2016 through an equity crowd-funding initiative run via CrowdCube, and the initial £100k target was achieved within 15 days, with more than 80 new investors backing the business to the tune of £149.1k, which was to be used to expand its marketing and support activities.
Saas platform features
The BuilderStorm platform is accessed via a standard browser, and is said to be ‘ultra-responsive’, allowing use on a tablet, notebook, desktop Mac/PC or mobile. Hosting is provided by Amazon Web Services. The platform incorporates a wide range of features, arranged in five groups (plus ‘other’):
- project tools (including a scheduling tool – offering an online alternative to MS Project or Primavera)
- storage solutions (including drawing and document hosting and an “interactive drawing” tool)
- quality controls (RFIs, snaglist, etc)
- financial (quotations, variation requests, valuations, invoices, tender Hosting packages and timesheets – making BuilderStorm potentially attractive to those looking for ERP/accounting functionality online)
- logistics (asset manager, inductions, deliveries, etc)
According to the website, early adopter customers include Bellway, WSP, Avanti Architects, IDM Properties, EHA Group, and I & H Brown (deploying BuilderStorm on a £18m multi-storey carpark project in Warrington). Pricing is said to be “super-competitive” (“We will not be beaten on price. If you can find a competitor with a similar package and same features, we will not just match their quote, we will beat it.”), with (according Lawrence’s description of the Warrington project) packages that start from £2850 per year, with no set-up fees or limits on the numbers of users or projects.
BuilderStorm and BIM
BIM is said to be part of the offering, but seemingly only at a somewhat basic level (which I would describe as Level 1; this NBS article helps explain the levels). However, BuilderStorm insists it can help its customers be Level 2 compliant:
“We offer all the tools and features you need to demonstrate you are BIM Level 2 compliant. We can provide on-line drawing hosting with robust revision control and full audit trails. Our RFI system means that everyone Is on the same page when looking at design queries. Project photos keep track of the project as it changes over time, and the whole project and all data can be exported at the end for hand-over to the client.”
While it can share model outputs such as drawings and other project workflows, it is unclear whether BuilderStorm could provide any kind of model sharing viewing or more advanced levels of data exchange and export such as IFC or COBie. However, given that many UK SME contractors are, sadly, still some distance from achieving BIM Level 2 this may not be an immediately pressing customer demand, but when that demand is expressed, BuilderStorm will perhaps have to invest to add to its platform’s functionalities.