Simplified, Efficient, and Predictable: How Montana’s 2016 Builder of the Year Adopted a Scalable BIM Solution

Founded by Jim McCall in 1993, McCall Homes has always been focused on providing quality homes in neighborhoods across Billings, Montana. As McCall’s three children (Brad, Carolee, and Greg) joined the company over the years, that concept of quality has evolved into an even more meaningful vision: to create communities where homeowners can connect with their neighbors and live in a place “where life really happens.”

Homebuyers have responded, creating incredible demand for new homes in McCall planned communities like Josephine Crossing and Annafeld. In 2016, McCall Homes was named Builder of the Year by the Montana Building Industry Association, and the homebuilder has quickly built a reputation for high-performance houses located in community-centric neighborhoods.

THE CHALLENGE: Improve efficiencies in building community-centric neighborhoods

As it turns out, keeping up with demand — particularly when it comes to moving plans from design to estimating to production — has been the biggest challenge facing McCall Homes as the company has grown. To gain greater efficiencies throughout the design and building process, the McCall team wanted to take their drafting to the next level by ramping their software from 2D AutoCAD to a 3D building information modeling (BIM) system. 

THE SOLUTION: Adopt a scalable BIM solution for designing and managing plan options

“We wanted a platform where we could evolve from AutoCAD and scale from what we would call `little BIM’ into `big BIM’ and be able to leverage that model for all sorts of things,” explains company co-owner Brad McCall. In particular, the McCall team was seeking a system that could speed up takeoffs and estimating, integrate with the homebuilder’s wall panel plant software, and provide reliable pricing on options to homebuyers from first concept to final construction. 

“BIM provides that capability to present all of the architectural details and help the customer and the team visualize a home before we even start building,” explains McCall co-owner and director of design Carolee McCall-Smith. “Ideally, we could go from design to estimating to production while verifying everything in the home will work the way it is intended.”

After testing several available BIM options, McCall Homes selected Vertex BD along with the Simpson Strong-Tie® Pipeline™ material management and estimating software for capturing option changes, creating site-specific purchase orders, and creating an optimized bill of materials. “One of the biggest benefits was getting all of the systems set up so we can work the way we like to work,” says Brad McCall. “From the right lumber to the right software, we want to partner with people who can help us with our mission of delivering a great home. Day in and day out, Simpson Strong-Tie has been engaged with us in reaching that goal.” 

THE RESULTS: Speed, accuracy, and reliability in plan design, estimation, and options management

Indeed, the McCall team now characterizes their BIM and materials and estimating capabilities as robust, enabling the estimating team, in particular, to move from takeoffs that could consume a day or more to running a materials list for a full house in about an hour. As for improving the accuracy of materials orders, waste on items such as a quarter square bundle of roof shingles has been reduced to a paltry 1%–2%, with little variation from plan to plan and house to house. 

“That kind of accuracy results in a savings not just in quantity, but in the time consumed by managing materials lists that come up short or go over incredibly long,” says McCall. “So the accuracy saves both time and money.”

Of course, saving time and money in the building process resonates with McCall homebuyers as well, offering the builder a level of consistency and transparency that inspires customers with feelings of comfort and trust, particularly when it comes to reliable timelines, costs, and options pricing.

“We want to empower people as we build these real communities where our customers can make connections,” McCall says. “We want to simplify the building process and make it easy and make it predictable. Out of all of our technology partners, there is no one who is as responsive to that vision and delivers the highest quality of a product as Simpson Strong-Tie.” 

Learn more about Simpson Strong-Tie Custom-Tailored Builder Solutions

Builder SolutionsBuilding and selling homes is your business. Helping you do it better is ours. With Simpson Strong-Tie Builder Solutions, you’ll manage options more efficiently, construct more predictably, and get homes on the market faster. Not only will your company be rewarded, so will your customers.