Adopting BIM In Public Works Contracts
Prior to the widespread use of technology, procuring a construction contract was an uphill task which involved first accessing the Request for Proposal (RFP) files from government departments, and writing as well as drawing visual representations of how and what you intend to accomplish during the entire duration of the contractual process. As technology became more affordable and integrated into the construction industry, the process of accessing RFP’s, drafting proposals and designing visual representations became more streamlined for enterprises seeking contracts.
But some problems still existed.
These included a communication gap between client and employee, collaboration difficulties, accessing new regulations, and contractual changes. Updating everyone involved with a project in real-time hindered extensive progress in the construction industry. The invention of Building Information Modelling (BIM modelling) changed all that for it provided a completely new and more effective method of communicating.
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The BIM platform process allows the production, sharing and collaboration of everyone involved with a project in real time. Understanding the importance of BIM modelling in saving cost and enhancing collaboration, the UK government as well as most countries in the EU have mandated the use of BIM for all public construction processes. This mandate has created a 40% reduction in the total cost of public construction projects carried out in the UK and in 2012; statistics showed that BIM saved the UK approximately $1.7billion dollars.
This success rate has convinced other nations to adopt BIM in public and large scale works. For example, in Singapore BIM services use has become a mandated process for builders.
But while BIM modelling adoption is improving, it has not been well integrated into simplifying the contractual agreement among all parties involved in a construction project.
Using Ireland as an example, the Irish government introduced the public works contract act. Some consider it to be a one-sided act which does not take into consideration all stakeholders involved in a contract. The PWC act was put in place to safe-guard the interests of the government but some feel that it doesn’t address the needs of suppliers and their employees.
Integrating BIM modelling in public works contractual processes can eliminate one-sided benefits by including all stakeholders involved in the construction process right from the initial bidding stage, to the procurement and building launch. This creates an environment where each party will work collaboratively to ensure the progress of a project according to a format that is financially viable to all the stakeholders involved.
In this model, the constructing firm will be able to provide accurate material specifications and properties into the BIM model the supplier will provides documentation on the cost of the specified materials which will enable both the constructor, and the client carry out accurate calculations and predictions regarding the cost of the entire contract. This clarity eliminates the possibility of unrealistic charges, budget padding and material misuse during the duration of the entire project.
Mitigating Legal Issues that may arise if BIM Modelling is adopted in Public Works
Regardless of the clarity in collaboration that BIM offers, it is also important to include a BIM protocol which will clearly state the obligations of both party involved as well as the terms required for contract termination. In the UK, the Constriction Industry Council (CIC) has taken the bold step of creating a BIM protocol that must be integrated into any direct contract between client and contractor.
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The protocols expressively state the obligations and rights of the client and contractor as well as include additional appendices that focus on the model production and the delivery table for each stage of the contract. It is also important to note that the UK BIM protocol assigns no rights or liabilities for suppliers involved in a project. Perhaps this should include penalties for suppliers whose work doesn’t reflect a high standard, or the right to leave a contract without prejudice, if the financial backing needed to provide supplies is lacking.
The integration of BIM services in the UK has received its fair share of praise as one of the initiatives responsible for the rejuvenation of its construction industry. BIM and the inclusion of a legal act such as the (CIC), is definitely the way forward for government institutions looking to successfully clean-up its construction industry and as the technology continue to progress, it is hoped that more countries will adopt these measure in public works.