Article Date: 06/14/2013

Experts Discuss Contracting for BIM Lifecycle Uses

By Steve Rizer


Building information modeling (BIM) can be used with any project-delivery system in a construction project, an expert from Zetlin & De Chaira LLP emphasized to construction professionals attending a webinar that WPL Publishing held last week. He made this point during a segment of the webinar addressing four key variables that impact BIM contracting, one of which is the type of delivery system being implemented.


Although certain project-delivery systems “are much better suited to work with BIM” than others, “you could still take the classic design-bid-build project-delivery system and get a lot out of [the technology],” Zetlin & De Chaira Managing Partner Michael Vardaro said during “Contracting for BIM Lifecycle Uses,” the target audience of which consisted of architects, engineers, attorneys, public and private owners, construction managers, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers, and BIM consultants.  


Vardaro acknowledged that "there are certainly some obstacles and certain advantages that you might not be able to avail yourselves of” when incorporating BIM into a design-bid-build project. “However, there is still a lot to be [gained through] that type of project-delivery system. For instance, if you have a design-bid-build project, you need to be thinking about the fact that you typically have federated models that may be talking to each other, but there’s not one central location [where the information] will be stored, so you need to think about [BIM] if the end game is to make sure that you have all of the information in a place so that the ultimate facility manager can use all of that information to operate and maintain the building.”


Model deliverables represent another variable impacting BIM contracting -- a variable that is “very important,” Vardaro said. “In most jurisdictions, permitting authorities require 2D plan submissions. That’s where we are now. We will probably be there for a while. So, it’s rare to see a fully integrated model being the sole final deliverable. So the question is, ‘Well, what are the deliverables?’ I kind of think about the seven-‘P’s adage of the British army, [which is] ‘proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.’ I think I left out a ‘P,’ but I’m trying to do the G-rated version here. But, you know, the idea is we need to know up front what the end game is. We need to properly plan and prepare for that, and if we do that, we’ll understand how to get to that end game. So, we need to understand, well, what information [we] will need to collect in that model during that process? I mean, if it’s something that we want to have warranty information at the end be a click away, we need to make sure that product manufacturers are inputting that information all along the process.”


Regarding the variable of model types (for analysis and coordination), Vardaro said, “In the beginning, there was BIM being used but not really as BIM. I think Kim [Hurtado, managing shareholder of Hurtado, S.C., Counselors at Law, and fellow speaker] and I refer to it as ‘CAD [computer-aided design] on steroids.’ That’s okay for a particular use. It may be something for a smaller project, but that’s not really what we’re talking about. What we’re really talking about is BIM being used and providing the information that it can provide, and when you do that, you need to understand exactly what type of information is being provided, the way that the models are arranged so that you can again plan for the end game.”


The fourth variable involves dimensional reliability and levels of development, Vardaro said. “Important attention has to be paid to defining the dimensional reliability or ‘levels of development’ [LOD], as the AIA [American Institute of Architects] has kind of coined the phrase, for a model. Now, the concept here … is that when we use BIM, we can’t sketch. It’s about the drawings. It’s about the objects. And so, if we say, ‘Sketch a wall,’ well, that wall has got to have a depth dimension, a width to it, … even though it’s not important for the sketch. So, if the architect throws the wall into the model and says, ‘Okay, it’s six-and-a-half inches wide,’ and later a door manufacturer sizes doors and gives an estimate for the project based on that width, and the architect later says, ‘Oh, well, the width of the wall is actually nine inches because we’ve got staggered studs,’ well, the door manufacturer is now asking for a change order, and the reason is because he was relying on information that shouldn’t have been relied upon, so you need to account for all of that in your model.”


Also during the webinar, Vardaro and Hurtado discussed the exporting of 4D/5D data from a model, different types of lifecycle analyses, various levels of lifecycle analyses, lifecycle stages, documentation, LOD accuracy reliance, the organizational BIM execution planning procedure, contract drafting and planning, and other topics.


A recording of the 90-minute webinar can be purchased via the following link:


The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article contains a full transcript of the webinar's 10-minute question-and-answer segment. To sign up for a membership, click here.



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