The impact of BIM on construction

Mark Johnson
Survey Insight by Mark Johnson National Accounts Manager 15/10/2012

The East Anglian law firm Prettys recently hosted two events exploring the potential impact that BIM will have on the construction sector


Bim construction

What is the potential impact of BIM on construction?

The East Anglian law firm Prettys recently hosted two events exploring the potential impact of Building Information Modeling on construction. Their highly popular “Developers Club”  invited CADS’ National Accounts Manager, Mark Johnson, to present his thoughts on how BIM will affect the sector at the events held in Chelmsford and Ipswich

There is a lot of confusion surrounding BIM and its potential impact on construction. Much of the focus is directed towards “What software do we buy?” and  “How much it will cost to adopt BIM?” rather than the practicalities around enabling, administration and management.

Mark’s presentations sought to put BIM into an industry-wide context by looking at its history in the UK;  the global political and environmental pressures that are behind its adoption by the EU and UK Governments; the financial benefits that both public and private sector clients wish to achieve; and the potential benefits that the construction sector can realise by embracing it.

Peter Blake and Jon Miller of Prettys outlined the legal  implications of BIM on issues such as ownership  of  intellectual property rights (IPRs); the allocation of risk between participants; potential liabilities; Professional Indemnity insurance;  and drafting of appointments and construction contracts.

bim construction

Five issues emerged impact of BIM on construction

  1. BIM is not a ‘standard’ off the shelf product and as yet there is no legal or universally accepted definition of  the term. It is therefore  important to understand and define what the client means when  it  requests BIM and what it expects from BIM and you.
  2. Ensure that a detailed and comprehensive Protocol document is in place that clearly sets out your own contractual obligations, and those of the other parties upon whom you are reliant for the success of the project. It should:
  • Contain information regarding co-ordination, ownership, the model construct and management
  • Have an agreed plan for its execution
  • Include a full and detailed schedule of deliverables
  • Clearly define the scope of delivery for the model at each stage of the project.
  • It must name the roles and responsibilities of all participants in the creation of the model and identify the permissible use of the model and any associated data.

3. There should also be an audit trail enabling the individual contribution of any participant to be unambiguously identified at key stages of the project.

4. Make sure that you always notify your insurers when you are working on a BIM project and  inform them of key details, such as limitations on liability, allocation of risk, and scope of licences of IPRs

5. BIM is a lifecycle management tool, so the information/data you are providing may be in use well beyond the end of the design or construction phases. It is worth being clear on how the data you are providing will be used in the future and defining its usage precisely under licences of IPRs.

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BIM is a tool for change, and will continue to have a profound effect on the sector. Its impact will be industry-wide. It requires a change in culture, and the introduction of new technology will bring about an alignment of currently diverse disciplines in property, design, construction and facilities management around shared data sources.

However, BIM is very new to the UK and is still evolving. The required outputs may not be completely clear, the processes and methodologies may not be fully defined, and the knowledge and skills that are required  may not yet be in place. Therefore, if you are considering undertaking a BIM project for the first time it may prove beneficial to consider speaking to specialists in the field who will be able to provide guidance on how best to approach it.

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