Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Construction Industry Council (CIC)’s Protocol on building information modelling (BIM) is out, and the news is ALL GOOD!

I wish. Or more precisely, they wish.
They, being the CIC, the ‘architects’ of this document and its sisters, the various guides and ‘best practice’ manuals.
Also the authors of close-to-3000 links that Google offered up as a response to my inquiry on the topic.
Admittedly, I have not checked them all out individually, but the consensus is there (again) –
BIM as described by CIC is here to stay, they have the best recipes on how to do it, no worries regarding insurers, trust them…

Well’ let’s look at this insurer issue again!

What the supporting guide says is this:

“…So, the first time you enter into a contract which utilises level 2 BIM, make contact with your PI broker to ensure that they (and your insurers) are comfortable with what level 2 BIM involves and that there are no policy terms which could cause problems.
For the overwhelming majority of consultants, this will not be a particular issue and no insurance market with whom we have spoken has given any indication that level 2 BIM gives rise to significant concerns.
Similarly, no insurer has indicated that any particular “endorsement” or policy modification is required to note this activity, which although novel, is not sufficiently different from the norm to warrant any significant affirmative action from insurers….”

Maybe things are truly much better in UK than in the rest of the world I’ve been working in over the last 2.5 decades.
Maybe I’m looking at things the wrong way, from the wrong end or just being unnecessarily negative – but let’s just examine the above statement in the context of a ‘real project’ and to make it even easier, let’s assume we are operating on Level 0 (CAD drawings!) of the BIM Maturity Chart;
(i.e. what is currently industry practice)

Consider a fairly typical project:

I am the architect of a medium sized apartment building (8 stories high, 12 apartments/ floor – 100 apartments all together, including a couple of penthouse units)
As part of my IFC document-set I provide to the contractor CAD files showing the outlines of the slabs of all of the floors.
The contractor receives these CAD files and distributes them between various impacted subcontractors as well as uses them to prepare own shop drawings.
There are no figured dimensions; each party is free to ‘use’ the ‘model’ as needed.

This is excellent: In contrast to current everyday practices where often 20+ different disciplines ‘run-around’ each other’s shop drawings to find some approved physical anchors to fix their own products to – everyone will use the architect’s drawings and work in parallel.
Major savings in time and cost on offer and we are only talking Level 0 BIM!
Pull that up to Level 2 and the savings will be enormous!

Or, will they?
We could ask a number of practicing architects to run past their PI-insurer the idea that from now on, they will provide no dimensioned drawings, just ‘Level 0 BIM/CAD’ files for construction.
Would the insurers really say, ‘please, be my guest? After all, it is all in line with the CIC protocols’…

Or would they rather be laughing their heads off instead?

Feel free to call me an anti-innovation, obnoxious, party pooper.
But also, why not treat me to an explanation on, how is this idealistic, dogmatic and rose-tinted way of looking at BIM going to help anyone, anywhere doing real AEC projects?

How will it support a single contractor to accept a digital file (albeit at Level 0) provided by a consultant and use it without the worry of being sued from 3 different directions for ‘interpreting’ it wrong?
Or, even better, how will it encourage even one consultant to stop producing ‘masses of drawings by weight’ (soft and/or hard version) and take full responsibility for their design and outputs?

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