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Management

 

BIM bytes: A new spotlight on procurement and contracts

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On 6 May, King’s College London issued a draft report called Enabling BIM through Procurement and Contracts, backed by the Association of Consultant Architects and the Society of Construction Law.

The launch is the culmination of 16 months’ research by the BIM Research Group, led by King’s Professor David Mosey.

The research and report comprise the most detailed investigation into current UK procurement processes for projects using BIM and contract treatment of the adoption of BIM. And, most importantly, they give a
clear indication as to how particular implementation might improve project success.

While the draft report is clearly complimentary to the CIC BIM Protocol – particularly acknowledging that it has “forged a path in tackling contractual issues relevant to BIM” and acknowledging its widespread adoption – there is also a clear demand for the standard document to be updated.

Of key import to the interviewees was that the impact of BIM should not unnecessarily shift the ordinary risk allocations in their usual contracting relationships – the “commercial norms”, as the draft report describes them. The research suggests that the CIC BIM Protocol goes further than necessary in removing responsibility from consultants in response to a perceived additional risk placed on consultants by the introduction of BIM.

To maintain those commercial norms in the consultant appointments and construction contracts, the report concludes with some detail about an alternative to the bilateral protocols entered into by the client with each of the parties, suggesting the structure for a standalone contractual multi-party protocol signed up to by all of the project team.

Also discussed is the variety of ways in which the projects reviewed were procured. The impression again is that the respondents did not want to see their normal procurement processes disrupted as a result of the inclusion of BIM.

However, it suggests that existing evidence of greater project success moving away from single-stage tendering is magnified by BIM. The significance of the project team’s involvement in the pre-construction phase would suggest that the savings and efficiencies cited as having been achieved through two-stage procurement might be replicable.    

The report therefore provides some guidance that might be used both as evidence that fundamental contractual risk allocation does not need to be changed to incorporate BIM, but also as evidence that might provide an impetus to change the way in which project teams are procured.

Assad Maqbool is a partner at Trowers & Hamlins specialising in projects and construction

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The research suggests that the CIC BIM Protocol goes further than necessary in removing responsibility from consultants in response to a perceived additional risk placed on consultants by the introduction of BIM.– Assad Maqbool, Trowers & Hamlins