Don’t turn your BIM into a bomb

Scott LambertScott Lambert

The requirement for real estate projects to use Building Information Modelling (BIM) is increasing throughout the Middle East and, as a result, is a subject that now demands closer attention.

BIM is the generation and management of digital representations of real estate developments. While BIM will vary from project to project, this system is more sophisticated than traditional 2D drawings. To implement it on a project requires new concepts not seen in traditional procurement, such as warranties as well as licences and permissions to use intellectual property (IP) in the model.

BIM isn’t a new concept but its growing prevalence is due to demand for such images by regulators and clients. It’s, therefore, vital that a project’s BIM accurately reflects what the developer intends to create.

As BIM continues to evolve, there is currently no standard form of contract that can be used for projects. Some forms in the UK and US have produced BIM elements for their contract suites, but these are only suggestions and require detailed consideration before they can be applied to a project.

Therefore, as an industry, it is vital that for any project you consider in detail how the BIM is to be used. We need to examine the key components of the BIM model and clearly design the basic requirement for each.

The model

The model itself must be clearly defined by the expected end result. This is best done through a BIM execution plan that sets out requirements from each contractor and consultant as to what they are to produce, when it is to be done and the level of development required. Clarity in this plan will result in fewer disputes.

Risk allocation

If used correctly, BIM should lead to more efficient construction with fewer delays. There is the ability to place more design risk on the contractor as it can be checked more readily. This is particularly the case when the contractor is involved as part of the BIM team from an early stage or is given adequate time prior to signing the contract to review and test the BIM for the project.

Control of the model

At present, no standard form considers who is responsible for delivering and managing the model. Without this, there is the potential for ambiguity and a loss of direction. While normally it lies in the contractor (in a design-and-construct contract) or the employer (in a construction-only contract), control must be clearly de fined from the outset. This can be done through the appointment of a BIM manager who, in turn, should either be a dedicated consultant or the most appropriate within the project team to manage input, version control and facilitate collaboration.

A BIM is only as useful as the level of communication and collaboration between each party. The manager needs to be empowered to resolve issues efficiently or issue a direction as to how they can be resolved.

Intellectual property

Traditional contracts do not give sufficient licences of IP rights to allow for designs to be used in a BIM. A wider licence to use IP rights needs to be added to each consult-ant’s agreement, and corresponding design contracts should be able to use these designs in the model for other parties. To facilitate this, confidentiality and access issues must be addressed.

Back-to-back provisions

Due to the various arrangements that need to be in place to ensure the successful use of the model,

back-to-back provisions must be drafted in all relevant design contracts and consultancy agreements. Otherwise, should a problem arise, it might be difficult to achieve the right outcome.

It is also wise to add an incentive for performance delivery alongside effective mechanisms that require BIM obligations to be performed as a precondition for payment or to avoid contractual sanctions.

Warranties and Insurance

The BIM contributors could be asked for warranties that will last the dura tion of the project and beyond. There may need to be warranties that the BIM information is accurate for the benefit of the facility manager and well beyond the time of defects liability. It could also be necessary to consider protection against BIM errors that have the potential to lead to rectification costs.

Insurance provisions need to allow for appropriate cross liability or waiver of subrogation clauses. Consultants will have to ensure that the professional indemnity insurance provides adequate cover.

Obstacles to BIM

Not only is the contracting structure important for a successful BIM model but all parties must be ready and willing to comply with its requirements. In addition, it is essential that a common language and system are being used by the team. If the programming language is not consistent, it will cause confusion, while incompatible software will mean designs will not be able to be integrated into the model.

The benefits of BIM are truly enhanced by the utilisation of the model at an early stage. By hiring a BIM team early, the stakeholders will also be able to agree on their respective obligations.

While there is no definitive structure or methodology for the utilisation of BIM on a project, considering all of these critical elements will hugely increase its effectiveness. Each project should be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure the em-ployer’s requirements are satisfied. By applying a basic framework for the model and maintaining clear direction and control, the usefulness of this tool will prove to be significant. n


Source: Scott Lambert, Special to Property Weekly

The writer is Regional Head of Construction and Infrastructure at Al Tamimi and Company.


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