BIM provides contractual obligations. Do you know yours?
Working with designers, contractors and specialist suppliers, we ask “Do you know your contractual obligations for BIM?” The reaction is often uncomfortable. Blank looks, embarrassed shuffling, worried frowns.
A surprising number of organisations are still unaware of the way Building Information Modelling (BIM) is written into design appointments and building contracts.
People have heard of BIM, some have experienced it, others are experts in its technology and systems, but precious few really understand the commercial implications. Fewer still have a robust process to recognise, define deliverables and manage their contractual BIM obligations.
There’s a saying in business that “your biggest risk is the one you haven’t yet identified”. BIM might just be yours.
With standard forms of appointment and building contracts now recognising BIM, information deliverables and processes become contractual obligations. So now would be a good time to get an understanding of:
- Where to find these requirements
- What they mean
- How best to manage your risk
Perhaps the first step is to clearly understand how BIM is incorporated into appointments and contracts.
Figure 1: Typical arrangement for inclusion of BIM within appointments and contacts.
Next, it will help to understand the purpose and content of each of the key documents.
Design Team Appointments and Building Contracts
The institutions representing each professional ‘discipline’ tends to promote its own schedules of service and cross-discipline organisations such as the Construction Industry Council provide alternatives. Carefully consider these to ensure services are clearly defined and allocated, with no gaps, overlaps or conflicts.
These, in turn, must be properly integrated or aligned with the details of building contracts depending on the selected procurement route. Popular standard contracts include the JCT and NEC suites. Design and build contracts, or ‘traditional’ forms incorporating contractor designed elements require particular attention.
For BIM, each appointment and contract must incorporate the BIM protocol.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) Protocol (CIC/BIM Pro Second Edition 2018)
The BIM protocol is the mechanism that incorporates the BIM process and its ‘deliverables’ into appointments and building contracts, creating enforceable contractual obligations. The protocol provides detailed terms and conditions for BIM that supplement the usual provisions of each appointment or building contact.
By reference to further documents, the BIM protocol clarifies how BIM is integrated into the terms and conditions of each appointment or building contact, creating binding commitments on all parties. As a minimum, these will generally include:
- Responsibility Matrix
- Employer’s Information Requirements
- BIM Execution Plan
This is created to make clear the split and scope of responsibility for each party appointed by the construction client, ensuring the BIM process and information deliverables are coordinated between the relevant organisations. Formats may vary according to circumstances, summarising or perhaps going greater granularity, on issues including key exchanges and levels of definition.
Employer’s Information Requirements
This sets out the construction client’s need for information, both during the project phase to enable key decisions to be made, and at handover to facilitate the operation, maintenance and management of the asset.
Design and technical needs are often set out in employer’s requirements (e.g. JCT contracts) or works information (e.g. NEC contracts). BIM provides for the crucial issues of information and data to be communicated, allowing construction clients to procure both the physical asset and its ‘digital twin’.
BIM Execution Plan
This is the project team’s response to the Employer’s Information Requirements, setting out how information will be created, managed and exchanged. Each member of the project team must meet their obligations in following the execution plan to provide the construction client with the information needed to make key decisions during the design and construction process, and in handing over data that will facilitate the ongoing management of the completed asset.
These detail any relevant matters not covered in the Employer’s Information Requirements or BIM execution Plan.
This provides a framework for security requirements, referring to generic applicable standards and specific issues regarding sensitive information.
Lastly, it is vital that your business has a consistent approach to controlling the risks associated with your information deliverables and a structured process for ensuring these contractual requirements are met. Depending on the scope of your services and your position in the project supply chain, your BIM process might be a stand-alone system, or be incorporated by extending your existing management system.
The BS/PAS 1192 series provides a framework of BIM requirements and management systems such as ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 55001 (asset management) may provide the context that best fits your business needs. The key challenge is to prioritise the aspects that are relevant and helpful to you and your business, before devising a robust system that meets your needs.
Specialist support is available to help with these issues. So now that you are aware of the risk, take action to protect your business and deliver your contractual BIM obligations.
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