Ready, Set, BIM!

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Any service provider that offers design, drafting or modelling services for the construction industry could arguably say they are already doing ‘BIM’. They would be technically correct. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is in essence providing information, whether hand drawn or CAD in the form of 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D or 6D; these are all techniques that provide information on a structure that is to be built and maintained.

When we refer to BIM today though, what we are really talking about is the art of collaboratively building a model (normally 3D with some 4D components) with all stakeholders adding their expertise to the same model (Level 2 BIM). In this form of BIM, we have architects, engineers, contractors, FM teams and more; all adding their information at points in time during the development of the design and over the lifecycle of the building right from the concept stage.

To delve into this further, let’s first look at the levels of BIM maturity. The Bew-Richards BIM Maturity Model below outlines 4 levels of BIM. With the BIM environment being such a dynamic and ever-changing space, the model stops short of clearly defining each level of BIM, but basically identifies learning targets and gives a tool to assess a firm’s compliance against pre-defined standards.

 

 

Countries like the USA and UK are leading the way in BIM. By April 2016 in the UK, the Government required a minimum of Level 2 BIM on centrally-procured public projects. This shows a huge commitment by the public sector to back the use of BIM, whereas in Australia to date it has been driven by the private sector. Level 3 BIM is seen as attainable by some (and some think they are already achieving this) and others see it as something that won’t be ultimately achieved without collaboration of some of the large tech giants who are breaking the mould across a range of industries.

Currently in Australia, we are seeing a push towards Level 2 BIM projects and soon this will become a common method of delivering a project. Even operating at Level 2 BIM there are some interesting questions that come up about approach, responsibility, cost, risk profile, terms, software to be used, level of detail/development, IP ownership, insurance and liability to name a few.

Some things we need to consider before we tackle a Level 2 BIM project are:

  • Do your systems support the requirements? You will need to ensure you have the right hardware, software and network systems to carry out the requirements. Your internal project delivery systems will also play a major role in ensuring you can collaboratively work with your own project team to achieve efficiencies, but also to collaborate with the external stakeholders and react quickly as needed to reduce the potential of cost blow-outs.
  • The next thing we need to assess is whether we have the resources to execute the brief. Apart from having enough people to tackle the amount of work required and to deliver work as part of a sophisticated BIM team, do those people have the skills required to utilise the software/systems in place and to deliver the level of detail outlined in the BIM Execution Plan?
  • Is your current insurance policy going to cover you for working in this environment? There are risks associated with entering into a BIM contract. It is vital that you understand these and know if you are covered.
  • Where do the responsibilities and liabilities lie? Make sure you understand the inputs, updates, security and outputs required.
  • Further to this, ensure you have a good understanding of the three major documents – The BIM Brief, the BIM Execution Plan, and the BIM Protocol. You may need some legal assistance with these so can understand the indemnity/liability clauses and the risk profile.
  • Do you own the IP that is developed by you in the Model? It is key to understand where the IP ownership lies and what is understood about licencing this to subcontractors.
  • Finally, how will you communicate with all parties to the contract? As part of a BIM contract, you will need to constantly be updating each other on developments. This relates to your internal systems but also your willingness and the other parties’ willingness to coordinate and communicate throughout the project.

This is the tip of the iceberg for requirements under a BIM contract, but these points are a good place to start, and to assess if you are ready to take on a Level 2 BIM project. There are plenty of resources for firms looking to increase their capability in this area, and as the market demands it the resources will be easier to source and make use of.

Happy BIMming!

Author: Damiaan van Zanen

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