Ben - SUPER! Glad to have you on board! So many questions to be answered in this!
Okay...yes, if the passenger airbag is blown, the dashboard is useless...its all one piece that we need intact. The HVAC control does look the same and it just pops in the double-scoop dash without the bezel we have on the non-idrive car. I bought some parts from the UK (SatNav Pro system with 8.8" screen, DVD drive/computer, i-drive controller, antenna with shark fin, and wiring loom) for less than $1K. I dunno if I need to change out the antenna since I already have BMW (SOS) assist installed, so I think the GPS antenna is already in the sharkfin. A new dash is around $700, sand it eems like salvage ones (not blown up by airbag) are around half of that.
I too, am willing to tear my car apart...(see my next post) and am working diligently to figure this out! Glad to have some help!