The Associated General Contractors of America has released a forty-eight page treatise entitled The Contractors’ Guide to BIM: Edition 1. Co-authored by general contractor/design-builder Barton Malow’s executive vice-president Les Snyder, the Guide hopes to allay contractors’ various fears about BIM, including its potential legal risks. Cadalyst AEC believes the Guide is the first BIM publication written from the contractor’s, rather than the architect’s, perspective.
The Guide first notes that “[t]he emergence of BIM as a vehicle for dramatic change in design and construction occurs in a legal environment that has not fully come to grips with all the risk management implications of the underlying technology of electronic representation, or transmission of documents of any type.” While the Guide also makes clear that it does not aim to answer every potential legal question posed by BIM, it does “discuss some of the concerns contractors should at a minimum understand and if possible address.”
One possible way the Guide suggests for contractors to confront the legal risks presented by BIM is to apply “strict rules . . . to police the model, so that access rights are reasonably restricted, the ability to change the model is strictly limited to those who are responsible for changes to that portion of the model, outdated versions of the model can be destroyed, and a precise audit trail can be maintained for the various iterations of the model.” This course of action seems like an excellent starting point for contractors who are beginning to see BIM used more frequently on their projects. The Guide also believes that BIM “will not change the core responsibilities of the members of the project team. . . . No amount of technology will replace the need for a well-thought-out approach to construction.” This is sound advice to contractors worried that BIM will fundamentally change the nature of their business.
Although the Guide does acknowledge that BIM may render shop drawings obsolete, the “dialogue between designers and builders that is the basis of the submittal process must continue to be accommodated. Regardless of the medium of communication, it is necessary that the builder and designer confirm that the design intent is correctly interpreted.”
As I suggested in a prior post about BIM, the technology’s legal risks are real, and the construction industry is starting to address them. Accordingly, the green building movement must also remain cognizant of these developments, particularly given BIM’s potential to revolutionize the way that buildings are modeled with respect to energy use, daylighting, and air quality.
- How Many Contractors Does It Take to Scale a Wall? (Cadalyst AEC)
- Thoughts on the Autodesk/USGBC Partnership (gbnyc.com)