BIM’s reach still limited

Two-thirds of building project contracts do not refer directly to BIM, a new survey suggests.

Despite the figure, the 33 per cent who say they have worked under contracts that reference the marker amounts to a ten per cent increase on 2012’s survey. And more than half of respondents – 58 per cent – think the organisations for whom they work consider BIM to be contractually-binding, despite the shortfall on paper.

The data, published by the National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2015, was conducted by RIBA Enterprises’ National Building Specification (NBS).

Adrian Malleson, NBS’ head of research, analysis and forecasting, says the figures ‘tell us about people’s legal and contractual practice from summer 2014 to summer 2015’.

He explained: “BIM now provides us with the information, tools, standards and structures for greater collaboration. Indeed, collaboration is a precondition for achieving the higher levels of BIM.

“BIM will increasingly have a legal standing, as the information about a building is moved from disparate data stores into a central, collaborative model. Presently, most participants see BIM as having at least the same contractual status as drawings, with most agreeing that a BIM is as contractually binding as drawings are.

“Increasingly, then, the legal status of that developing information will need to be contractually stated.”

Of the survey’s findings, he added: “In practice, when we ask people what they are actually doing, things are slightly different to people’s perceptions.

“Two thirds of people are not referring to BIM in their contracts at all. So while people see BIM as legally binding, the status of the contracts is some way behind that. There is a bit of catching up to do on the contract side of things.”

Palmers’ construction specialists can provide expert advice on legal matters arising from BIM, including its incorporation into contracts and other commercial agreements. For more information, please contact Adam Davis.