BIM in the Public Sector - Start Planning Now!


The Government has recommended that Building Information Modelling (BIM) is compulsory for all centrally procured public projects by 2016. So, what changes have to be made to your contracts?

There is no universally accepted definition of BIM, but the Royal Institute of British Architects' definition is one which is often used:

"Building Information Modelling (BIM) is digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility creating a shared knowledge resource for information about it forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle, from earliest conception to demolition"

So, what actually is BIM?

In essence, BIM involves the compilation of information in such a way that it can be shared between members of a construction team. There are 4 levels of increasing maturity – Level 0 to Level 3. The Government has advised that public sector projects will require the use of Level 2 BIM by 2016. At Level 2, data is held in specific BIM databases which may also include information about cost or programming. There is not one single database for all information. Commercial data is held separately but it may be accessed using appropriate software.

Incorporation of BIM Level 2

The primary route to incorporation of BIM Level 2 in your contracts is by way of a "BIM Protocol" detailing deliverables, programme, purpose and formats. JCT/SBCC through their Public Sector Supplement - published at the end of 2011 - simply provide for the BIM Protocol to be included as a Contract Document.

The BIM Protocol

There is currently no standard BIM Protocol. However, the Construction Industry Council have prepared a draft Protocol that is due to be published at the end of February 2013. What is contained in the Protocol will vary from project to project but detail will be key. Examples include:

the BIM specific roles and responsibilities of all members of the team;
the required ways of working, especially clarity as to the extent of integration required and the management of the modelling process;
ownership of models and data inputs and use of common software, modelling and exchange standards; and
desired outputs and BIM deliverables.

Consultant Appointments

Additional duties will need to be defined in schedules of services describing any additional BIM-related requirements. The duties required will vary in accordance with the degree of integration necessary for any project and these will also need to be consistent with the BIM Protocol.

BIM Model Manager

BIM-enabled projects require a BIM Model Manager who will be responsible for co-ordinating the building information. This role may be taken on by an ordinary member of the Professional Team or by a specialist consultant; but in any event, additional BIM management services will need to be developed. The BIM Industry Working Group in their 2011 Strategy Paper outline potential duties based on the Construction Industry Council schedule of services.

Watch Out For…

There has been a significant amount of industry discussion on the impact of BIM on underlying issues such as data ownership, copyright, insurance and liability. However, in the case of a BIM Level 2 project, it is likely that no changes will be necessary to the ordinary provisions you would expect to see in construction contracts relating to these items. This is primarily because at BIM Level 2, we are not concerned with one single database for all information including commercial data unlike BIM Level 3. As such, it is generally accepted that BIM Level 2 can be incorporated successfully into contractual documentation by way of a separate BIM Protocol and without any amendment to these standard provisions. However, each project will vary substantially in terms of procurement and so on, as well as to the degree of information integration required and the content of any BIM Protocol. This means that standard provisions such as data ownership, copyright, insurance and liability should not be overlooked, even in the case of BIM Level 2.