BIM & Efficient Life-cycle Management of Facilities & Infrastructure

bim and efficient life-cycle facility management

Efficient life-cycle management of facilities and other physical infrastructure is impossible until real property owners are better educated and truly capable in their role as stewards of the built environment.

LEAN best management practices and associated collaborative construction delivery methods (Integrated project delivery – IPD, Job Order Contracting – JOC, etc.) are REQUIRED in order to deliver quality renovation, repair, sustainability, and new construction projects on-time and on-budget.

Most Owners do not have the educational background or professional experience needed to consistently deploy LEAN construction delivery methods and/or life-cycle management.

job order contracting

job order contacting - JOC

BIM Objects, Data, and Information – More than a 3D Pretty Picture – Soooo Much More!

A picture paints a thousand words,

but never underestimate the power of text

(Adapted from Source: NBS.com)

Stefan Mordue, Technical Author and Architect

BIM objects are much more than just graphical representations. Using them as placeholder to connect to a wider source of information provides for a powerful and rich source of information. 

‘Author it once, and in the right place; report it many times’

Information in the Building Information Model (BIM) comes from a variety of sources, such as 3D visualization tools ( Autodesk Revit or Nemetschek Vectorworks, Archicad, Bentley Systems …) as well as cost estimating, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), capital planning and management systems (CPMS), geographical information systems (GIS), building automation systems (GIS),  model checkers and specification software.

All BIM objects have properties, and most also have geometries (although some do not, for example a paint finish). To avoid duplication, information should be both structured and coordinated. 

Some information is more appropriately located in the ‘geometrical’ part of the BIM object while other information is more suited to the ‘properties’ part, such as the specification. The specification is part of the project BIM, and objects live in the specification.   In traditional documentation we would ‘say it once, and in the right place’, however with BIM, we want to ‘author it once, and in the right place, to be able to report it many times’.

Figure 1: Appropriate location of information

Figure 1: Appropriate location of information

‘A picture paints a thousand words, but never underestimate the power of text’

Let’s take an analogy of a BIM object representing a simple cavity wall. The object will tell us the width of the brickwork and height of the wall. However at a certain point in the project cycle it is the written word that is needed to take us to a deeper level of information. It is within a textual context that we describe the length, height and depth of the brick. It is words that are used to describe the mortar joint and wall ties.

BIM objects are as much about the embedded data and information as they are about the spaces and dimensions that they represent graphically.

It is this connection to a wider source of information that really empowers the object, making it a rich source of information. Think of BIM objects if you will as a ‘place holder’ – not only a physical representation of the real life physical properties of the said object but also a home for non-graphical information such as performance criteria, physical and functional condition data, life-cycle data, detailed and current cost data (materials, equipment, and labor),  and operational information.

‘A new generation of specifiers is being empowered by BIM. We can begin to specify at a much earlier stage in the process’

Specifications were once undertaken by the specification expert, often once the detail design was completed. A new generation of specifiers is being empowered by BIM. We can begin to specify at a much earlier stage in the process.

In reality “specifiers” are now a team of stakeholders – Owners, Contactors, Subs, AE’s, Oversight Groups ….

By connecting the BIM object to an NBS Create specification, a direct link can be made to NBS technical guidance and standards, at the point where the designer most needs them. For example,  if the designer is a subscriber to the Construction Information Service (CIS), then any technical documents cited in the specification that are available can be downloaded instantly.

Figure 2: NBS Revit tool bar

Figure 2: NBS Revit tool bar

‘We have recently integrated geometric BIM objects with the corresponding NBS Create specification clauses to achieve a greater connection between the two’

BIM and BIM workflows are consistently being refined and updated as they become more commonplace and as standards and protocols emerge.   While we can never solve all coordination issues, we hope to improve coordination by linking databases, objects and eventually coordinate key property sets.

Traditionally, a value that was represented on a drawing may not correctly corresponded with the value within the specification simply due to a ‘typo’. An example being where a ’60 minute fire door’ has been recorded on the drawing but has been recorded as ’90 minutes fire rating’ within the specification. Aside from this coordination debate, practices will also need to decide and establish office policies on where information is recorded. While the specification system has detailed guidance and links to standards, regulations and suggested values, geometric BIM software has great visualization analysis and instance scheduling functionality.

Figure 3: Connection to a wider source of information empowers the object

Figure 3: Connection to a wider source of information empowers the object

At present, the NBS National BIM Library objects are classified using both the draft Uniclass 2 Work result code and the System name to give a deeper link between the object and specification. The NBS National BIM Library contains a number of objects that connect at a ‘product’ level (e.g. hand driers, baths, individual doorsets) while others work at a ‘system’ level (e.g. cubicle, partition, door and signage systems). Yet other objects are at an ‘element’ level (i.e. made up of a number of systems) such as external walls.

Following a period of industry consultation, Uniclass 2 is now being finalized for publication during 2013. Classification of content in the National BIM Library and NBS Create will then be updated.

National BIM Library Parameters

NBSReference NBS section/clause number 45-35-72/334
NBSDescription The full description of an object Hand driers
NBSNote Where a second system which is related to the BIM object can be described =[Blank]
NBSTypeID A reference to the object for the user if one or more is used with the project
Help URL of a website where additional help notes are available http://www.nationalbimlibrary.com/
Uniclass2 Uniclass2 Product Pr-31-76-36
IssueDate The issue date of the object 2012-12-06
Version The version of the object 1.1

A hand drier is an example of an object that links nicely to an associated product clause (NBSReference=45-35-72/334). Using tools such as NBS Create and the NBS Revit plug in tool, the corresponding product will automatically be captured; it can then be used to enrich the object with information such as power rating and noise levels.

A doorset is an example of an object that maps beautifully to an NBS Create System outline clause. For example using WR 25-50-20/120 Doorset System, we can then specify system performance, component and accessory products (e.g. glazing type, fasteners and threshold strips) as well as execution.

Certain NBS National BIM Library objects are at an ‘element level’ where they comprise a number of systems. In this situation we give a primary work results classification, the NBSReference. In addition, to help the user, we add the Uniclass 2 element code in an extra parameter field.

The following example is a Unit wall element comprising 100 mm thick stone, 100 mm mineral wool insulation batts and 100 mm concrete block, lined with 12.5 mm gypsum plasterboard on 25 mm dabs.

WR 25-10-55/123 ‘External multiple leaf wall above damp proof course masonry system’ has been used for the primary reference. From this System outline we can specify the stone facing, insulation and concrete block, together with DPC, lintels, mortar, cavity closers (which all in turn have product codes). A further system outline, WR 25-85-45/140 Gypsum board wall lining system, is given, from which the lining can be specified.

‘This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of NBS and we are now seeing project information being coordinated through intelligent objects’

An object could potentially relate to two different systems. An example of this would be a rainscreen cladding object. The following example is an aluminium cassette panel rainscreen system with metal frame, weather barrier, insulation, concrete block and plasterboard lining. This particular system could be either a ‘Drained and back ventilated rain screen cladding system’ 25-80-70/120 or a ‘Pressure equalized rain screen cladding system’ 25-80-70/160. The detail which would differentiate between the two is not shown in the geometric object itself but rather in the detail that would be found within the specification. When used in conjunction with the NBS plug-in tool, you are presented with the option to select the most appropriate system, and then to specify it to the appropriate level of detail.

Figure 4: Technology is enabling better processes and connection

Figure 4: Technology is enabling better processes and connection

We are now beginning to see project information being coordinated through intelligent objects.  The classification system, structure of data and technology are enabling better processes and will allow us to move a step closer towards full collaborative BIM.

via www.4Clicks.com – Leading cost estimating and efficient project delivery software  solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring and exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating / automatic quantity take off ( QTO), contract, project, and document management, all in one application.

The Current Status of OMNICLASS – A Critical BIM Requirement

(source: OmniClass Development Committee Status Report – April 16, 2013)

To:        OmniClass Development Committee members
From:   Dianne Davis, OmniClass Development Committee Chair
Kelly Sawatzky, OmniClass Development Committee Vice Chair
Greg Ceton, OmniClass Secretariat

These OmniClass Status Reports will be issued every few months through this review cycle. They are
designed to keep you apprised of ongoing OmniClass development work and afford you the opportunity
to ask questions or get involved. The report is organized to give updates on the development work
being performed by the three Working Groups (WGs) that are each independently working on a
different area of OmniClass development.

We are just commencing the 2012-2014 review cycle. Generally speaking, WGs are just beginning to
identify review issues and set priorities for areas of work needed.

OmniClass Spaces WG (Lead: Alan Edgar)
(Table Responsibilities: 13 – Spaces by Function and 14 – Spaces by Form)
The Spaces WG is charged with reviewing Table 13 – Spaces by Function and Table 14 – Spaces by Form
to determine the nature of any development work needed to expand or modify Table 13 contents, to
provide a baseline review of Table 14, as it has not been reviewed in depth since its initial
publication in 2006, and to harmonize the work of other existing space classifications with the revised contents
of both Tables.  The Working Group has commenced review work on both Table 13 – Spaces by Function and Table 14 –
Spaces by Form.  Table 13 review has been focused on laboratory space organization to start. Additional review of
medical spaces is also anticipated.
Table 14 review has begun with comparison of form-based aspects of other classification systems,
including those used as references in the prior work on Table 14. Some simplification of the table
to address purely formal concerns may be needed.
If you would like to participate in review work on either of these tables or have any comments to
share, please send them to Spaces WG lead Alan Edgar at alan.edgar@rsparch.com and to Greg Ceton at
gceton@csinet.org

OmniClass Products WG (Lead: Robert Keady)
(Table Responsibilities: 23 – Products)
The Products WG is charged with examining the structure of Table 23 – Products and confirming that
the contents and organization support the needs of users.

Work has commenced with the examination of Table 23 – Products. The WG Lead, Robert Keady, has
started cross-referencing Table 23 with Tables 21 (Elements) and 22 (Work Results). Additionally,
there have been equipment additions (200 to date) proposed to Table 23. Currently there is an
effort being made to identify Work Group members who will focus on specialized areas for review
within Table 23. This review cycle, the Work Group will also be focusing on adding definitions for
Table 23 entries.
If you have any comments or resources to lend to this effort, please send them to Properties WG
Lead Robert Keady at robertkeady@hotmail.com and to Chris Gummo at cgummo@csinet.org
OmniClass Activities and Processes WG (Lead: Dianne Davis)

The Properties and Materials WG is charged with examining and revising content and organization of
Table 32 – Services, Table 35 – Tools, and Table 36 – Information in light of recent work on Table
31 – Phases, Table 33 – Disciplines, and Table 34 – Organizational Roles.

Work has commenced with the examination of Table 32 – Services. The WG has tapped Robert Keady,
CEM, CDSM, FMP for his specialized knowledge of tasks, and how they may be fit into the structure
of Table 32 while limiting the impact on the table as a whole. The group has agreed that any
changes to Tables 32 and 36 must be in response to intended or known table usage that currently not
being met. Adding content or improving the tables without reference to a real improved process will
not satisfactorily address the WG charge.
Definition creation and harmonization with existing OmniClass Tables and creation of transition
matrix for each reviewed table will be commenced further along in the review cycle.
Work on other tables will be initiated after the work on Table 32 – Services has progressed
further.
If you have any comments or resources to lend to this effort, please send them to Properties WG
Lead Dianne Davis at  d.davis@aecinfosystems.com and to Rob Holson at rholson@csinet.org

If the work of any of these Working Groups interests you, or you would like to participate
in their development work, please contact Greg Ceton at gceton@csinet.org

The Business Value of BIM in North America 2007 – 2012

The Emperor is still naked!

Is the trend analysis of the Business Value of BIM in North America from 2007 through 2012  reality, or are many of us walking around with rose colored glasses?

I ask you, do you really believe the following statement ” Now in 2012, 71% of architects, engineers, contractors, and owners report they have become engaged with BIM on their projects …”.    If you define BIM as the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology, I can tell you that either the survey is flawed… a lot of people don’t know what BIM is… or we have a lot of folks inflating the truth.   There is NO WAY 71% of ANY of the groups are “engaged with BIM on their projects”…period, end of story.

Playing with Statistics?   The 71% average appears to have been calculated by taking a simple average of the “adoption rate” from architects, engineers, and contractors” from three size classes of firms “small, medium, and large”.   If I am correct, this is just plan WRONG.   Most firms in the U.S. are small business, thus a weighted average must be applied.   The “adoption rate” for small firms 50%… a number I also believe to be inaccurate.

I just came back from the NIBS Conference.   This is without question, the most valuable, authoritative meeting relative to BIM in the United States.  How many people were there you might ask?   A few hundred at most.

So, what does any of this matter?   Simple really.   Until our industry stops the hype and focus on important issues relative to BIM, we will continue to be mired in inaction.   The AECOO is the most unproductive business sector and also has the lowest rate of technology adoption.  These are facts….   if one wishes to be interested in facts that is.

Here some thoughts as to where emphasis must be placed:

  1. Greater adoption and use of collaborative construction delivery methods:  IPD – Integrated Project Delivery, and JOC – Job Order Contracting.  The later is a form of IPD specifically targeting renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction projects.   Let’s face it, 80% or more of all funding for the built environment will be going in renovation, repair, and sustainability.
  2. Emphasis on business process, strategy, and standardized terms, metrics, and data architecture vs. technology.   Technology is NOT the problem, is the lack of clear, robust business strategy and processes, and domain knowledge… largely on the part of Owners that is the primary obstacle to progressive change.   Owners write the checks, they are “where the buck stops”.
  3. Focus upon life-cycle costs / total cost of ownership, vs. first costs.
  4. A bit more on data standards….   OMNICLASS, UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, COie, IFC, et al… all have there roll.  Some will survive, some may not.   The point is that unless we have standardized terms, definitions, detailed reference and actual cost information (localized materials, equipment, and labors), physical and functional condition metrics, etc. etc. etc.    …  we can’t collaborate or improve productivity!
  5. Participation by all stakeholders – Owners, AE’s, Contractors, SubContractors, Building Users, Oversight Groups, Regulatory Bodies, Building Product Manufacturers, Communities, ….

ROI -BIM

 

 

 

 

2013-WSP Group
2013-WSP Group
BIG DATA = BIM
BIG DATA = BIM

BIM Evolution

In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
– Charles Darwin

BIM, the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology, requires a fundamental change in how the construction (Architects, Contractors, Engineers) and facility management (Owners, Service Providers, Building Product Manufactures, Oversight Groups, Building Users) sectors operate on a day-to-day basis.  

BIM, combined and  Cloud Computing are game changers.  They are disruptive technologies with integral business processes/practices that demand collaboration, transparency, and accurate/current information displayed via common terminology.

The traditional ad-hoc and adversarial business practices commonly associated with Construction and Facility Management are changing as we speak.    Design-bid-build and even Design-Build will rapidly go by the wayside in favor of the far more efficient processes of Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Job Order Contracting – JOC, and similar collaborative programs.  (JOC is a form of integrated project delivery specifically targeting facility renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction).

There is no escaping the change.   Standardized data architectures (Ominclass, COBie, Uniformat, Masterformat) and cost databases (i.e. RSMeans), accesses an localized via cloud computing are even now beginning to be available.   While historically, the construction and facility management sectors have lagged their counterparts (automotive, aerospace, medical, …)  relative to technology and LEAN business practices, environmental and economic market drivers and government mandates are closing the gap.

The construction and life-cycle management of the built environment requires the integration off several knowledge domains, business “best-practices”, and technologies as portrayed below.   The efficient use of this BIG DATA is enabled by the BIM, Cloud Computing, and Integrated Project Delivery methods.

Image

The greatest challenges to these positive changes are  the CULTURE of the Construction and the Facility Management Sectors.  Also, an embedded first-cost vs. life-cycle or total cost of ownership perspective.  An the unfortunate marketing spotlight upon the technology of 3D visualization vs. BIM.   Emphasis MUST be place upon the methods of how we work on a daily basis…locally and globally  − strategic planning, capitial reinvestment planning, designing collaborating, procuring, constructing, managing and operating.  All of these business processes have different impacts upon the “facility” infrastructure and  construction supply chain, building Owners, Stakeholders, etc., yet communication terms, definitions, must be transparent and consistently applied in order to gain  greater efficiencies.

Some facility life-cycle management are already in place for the federal government facility portfolio and its only a matter of time before these are expanded and extended into all other sectors.

BIM, not 3D visualization, but true BIM or Big BIM,  and Cloud Computing will connect information from every discipline together.  It will not necessarily be a single combined model.  In fact the latter has significant drawbacks.    Each knowledge domain has independent areas of expertise and requisite process that would be diluted and marginalized if managed within one model.   That said, appropriate “roll-up” information will be available to a higher level model.   (The issue of capability and productivity marginalization can be proven by looking a ERP and IWMS systems.  Integration of best-in-class technology and business practices is always support to systems that attempt to do everything, yet do not single thing well.)

Fundamental Changes to Project Delivery for Repair, Renovation, Sustainability, and New Construction Projects MUST include:

  • Qualifications Based or Best Value Selection
  • Some form of pricing transparency and standardization
  • Early and ongoing information-sharing among project stakeholders
  • Appropriate distribution of risk
  • Some form of financial incentive to drive performance / performance-based relationships

Where will BIM / Efficient Life-cycle Management Supported by Digital Technology Be in Five Years

A workshop with members from the BIM Academy, NBS, and various other was recently held to postulate on this topic.

As one might expect topics encompassed;  design, procurement, policy and standards, technology, education and culture, success to date, areas for innovation, challenges, and barriers to adoption.

As facilities costs are second only to personal/labor costs for most organizations, the need for breadth, consistency and transparency of BUILDING INFORMATION to understand, articulate, prioritize, and act upon requirements is readily apparent.    Information must be timely, accurate, transparent, actionable,  traceable, and shared collaboratively.

Change management is a requirement, and those adapt will excel, those that do not will fall behind.

A core, yet perhaps obvious observation was that ” There is a growing realization of the importance of data structure, quality and transferability, rather than geometry alone. We need to stop talking less about “the model” and more about “the data”.
“One participant noted a recent US comparative diagram mapping CAD adoption in the 1980s and recent BIM adoption. The trajectory has been much more rapid for BIM, however from recent discussions with US practitioners it appears the US is advanced in geometric, spatial and visual BIM uses but progress in the productive use of structured data, particularly into the operational phase, seems to be falling behind the UK.”

BIM management is misunderstood by some clients who regard it as purely a technological challenge which can be simply be solved by a software purchase and training, others are intimidated by a perceived complex restructuring of management processes. The truth lies somewhere between and follow the principles of Latham – get the process right before you think of the technology.

The role of IPD (Integrated Project Design) and JOC (Job Order Contracting) will become even more important.  It was also noted that collaborative working doesn’t necessarily demand multidisciplinary organizations. There is a balance to be struck between the efficiency gained from freshness and innovation often achieved from different organizations coming to together on a project basis and working collaboratively, however traditional  disjointed methods of procurement common in industry, such as design-bid-build or even design-build or CMAR do not fully encourage this.  IPD and JOC, the later a form of IPD for facility renovation, repair, and construction are proven methods of developing long term,  win-win multi-party relationships. “It’s crucial to get the right people involved early enough and understanding what outcomes they need from the start.”, and both IPD and JOC enforce this behavior.

Perhaps most importantly the topic of education rose front and center:

“It was agreed that this community also needs to escape from its silos. Some universities are starting to adopt a multidisciplinary curriculum supported by BIM, but this needs to become the standard not the exception. “Why not have a combined construction degree with final years dedicated to a specific discipline and practical work experience in between?””

BIM – Job Order Contracting – Integrated Project Delivery

Integrated design increasingly is recognized as a potential method to assure all performance criteria are considered and optimized in the design and construction of buildings. As indicated above, the participating disciplines must trust the validity of the information provided by other collaborators. – NIBS

It couldn’t be stated any clearer, though certainly could be broadened in context.  The efficient life-cycle management of the built environment, otherwise know as BIM, relies upon an integrated, collaborative process based upon accurate information and mutual trust.

Oddly, Integrated Project Delivery and Job Order Contracting both offer proven collaborative process supported by digital technology, yet are decades old.   Job Order Contracting, an integrated project delivery method specifically targeting facility renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction projects has been practiced widely and to the highest degree by the United States Air Force.  While some may argue that JOC was developed by the Army, it is the USAF that recognized its value and deployed JOC (know as SABER in the USAF) in a widespread and robust manner.   Today, software (e4Clicks Project Estimator) and  robust cost databases (RSMeans – enhanced by 4Clicks Solutions, LLC) support almost all USAF bases in the US (over 90%) each and every day.  Thousands of contractors, AEs, and Government personnel engage in long term, mutually beneficial business relationships to complete virtually all projects in a quality manner on-time and on-budget.

The AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Owner) industry could learn a lot from this example.   Perhaps then, BIM might have a chance of greater success… sooner than later.

See the technology in action.

Job Order Contacting = Integrated Project Delivery for Renovation, Repair, Sustainability, and Minor New Construction

Cloud Computing 101 – The Internet – The Web

Cloud computing and BIM are disruptive technologies that will finally alter the culture and fundamental framework of how the AECOO sector (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner, Operations) does business.   To appreciate this potential, however, requires a basic understanding of the following terms: The Internet – The Web – Cloud Computing – BIM.

The Internet is the substrate underlying the web and emerged from Darpa-funded (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) work in the 1970s.  The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks   that use the standard protocols, for example,  TCP/IP, to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext   documents of the web (world wide web, www.) and the infrastructure to support email.

The Web  (world wide web, www.) was invented by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire /European Organization for Nuclear Research)  in the early 1990s.  The web is a system  of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet.  With a browser (Explore, Chrome, Firefox…) one can view web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and between them via hyperlinks.

Having worked with both, including deploying on of the first truly web-based FM applications in 1998, I appreciate the scope of these two words.  Many, if not most, do not.

Now on to Cloud Computing, the delivery of standards-based computing, applications, and storage as a service to a public or private community of recipients.  It is the the delivery of   a standards-based method of providing service in a wide variety of virtual and physical domains that is a key aspect.   Computers now existing  in our homes, offices, cars, and pockets, and virtual computers exist in the cloud.  Computers have traditionally have worked within data networks as clients;  consuming but not provide services. This is changing rapidly, Computers that live in the cloud provide as well as consume services. This differentiation may be of little importance to many/most businesses whose computers are being “virtualized”, the processed of simply moving data/IT centers off-premises.   In this case, day to day processes, and fundamental business practices are not being affected.

Standards and services, and the unparalleled level of collaboration resulting from integration the Internet, Web, and Cloud Computing are converging to create a wave of change that is  now upon us. 

The cloud is social... on a very personal level.  For example, computers performing services for us live in the cloud, alongside computers that work for other people in the same and within other organizations.  People doing the same, similar, or related tasks in different locations, languages, currencies, etc.   How effectively your computers can work for your depends on how well they provide services accessible to those other computers.  This requires data standards, common processes, common lexicon, …..  If computers and people they don’t use common, robust terms/formats/processes, they can’t provide those services, and so they can’t efficiently, accurately, securely, and transparently do their jobs.

So, what’s cloud computing?  Computers and people working collaboratively and providing enhanced productivity, speed, accuracy, security, and transparency for you.  Everything working together and “playing nicely”, with virtually no bandwidth  limitation within an ecosystem of standards-based services. worth.   Thus, don’t fall for “cloud-washing”, the practice of taking legacy applications and porting them to virtual servers in the cloud.  You gain nothing.   Do your homework and look for standards-based true cloud computing applications that can “play nice” with everyone and deliver a better, faster, and actually fun way of doing work!

Now for BIM.  BIM, building information modeling, is the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.  BIM requires standards, common terms/lexicon, collaboration, cloud-computing, robust processes, efficient delivery methods, and so much more. The below graphics highlight components of a BIM framework.

BIM Framework

National Construction Contracts and Law Survey – UK – 2012

NBS National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012

by Adrian Malleson
Research and Analysis Manager, RIBA Enterprises (Source: http://www.thenbs.com/topics/ContractsLaw/articles/nbsNationalConstructionContractsLawSurvey2012.asp?utm_source=eNews-Weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2012-07-09)

From March to April 2012,  NBS a survey about contracts and legal issues within the UK construction industry.  to understand, among other things:

  • The different contracts and procurement methods being used
  • At what point in the process contracts are signed
  • The number and kinds of disputes taking place
  • How frequently partnering or collaborative working are used in construction projects.

To help the survey get industry wide representation more than 20 industry bodies, including the RIBA, assisted by getting their members to take part. Over 1,000 responses from across the industry were received.  This cross industry participation has meant that, for the first time, the UK now has had a broad based, independent survey of these areas. The responses weren’t just from architects and other consultants: clients and contractors took part too and the report breaks down responses by each group.
The findings give a full and at times startling picture of the UK construction industry’s relationship with contract and law.

In some ways, the industry remains rather traditional.  Collaboration, team integration and partnering have, at best, only been partially realised.

When we look at the contracts the industry uses, we see that traditional forms of contract still dominate. Sixty per cent of respondents tell us that the JCT Contracts are the ones they use most often, and 72 per cent of people used JCT Contracts at least once in the last year. That said, the NEC Contracts, associated more with non-traditional, collaborative working and procurement, have a firm place in the industry. Sixteen per cent tell us they use them most often and 29 per cent have used them at least once in the last year. For standard forms of contract, JCT and NEC dominate; together they are used more than all other standard contract types combined.

That said, “bespoke” contracts are widely used too; almost one quarter of respondents had used them in at least one project in the last year. Twenty years ago, the Latham Report concluded: “Endlessly refining existing conditions of contract will not solve adversarial problems. Public and private sector clients should begin to phase out bespoke documents“. That “phasing out” is turning out to be a long process – but one we’ll be able to track with subsequent surveys.

The adoption of electronic working also shows the traditional ways of working still remain. While we continue to envisage an electronic future of BIM orientated, collaborative working, more than 40 per cent of consultants and clients are still not using electronic tendering at all. There’s work to be done.

The report also gives an understanding of the number of disputes: both the perceived trend in the number of disputes in the industry and the number of disputes actually gone into by respondents.

Ninety-two per cent of the respondents agreed that the number of disputes in the sectors had either increased or stayed at the same level, with the current state of the economy being most often described as the cause. This somewhat dark assessment is borne out by almost one quarter of those taking part in the survey having been involved in a dispute during 2011.

It’s significant that 49 per cent of contractors who completed the survey tell us that “poor specification” is a “most difficult or recurrent issue” leading to dispute.

Together, the issues people gave as the causes of dispute make clear the need for jointly owned, standardized information. A clear information model including tight specification and variance tracking can help prevent legal action later.

So, the overall picture that emerges is one of an industry that still makes use of traditional methods but which sees the place for more innovation.

In many of the comments people made when completing the survey we could see a real desire for construction to be a collaborative, team-based enterprise where extra value is generated through cooperation. We hope to be moving towards a more collaborative industry. This move towards collaboration goes hand in hand with the move towards shared, co-owned information as well as in the choices of contracts and working methods.

One of the most, if not the most, significant impediments to true team working and collaboration is legal dispute whether actual, threatened or envisaged. The survey uncovered these disputes are disruptive, expensive and not uncommon. That’s why from the outset, projects need standardized, shared information models that are easy to update, maintain and act upon. These need to clearly delineate where risk and responsibility lie. That’s not to say the solution is just a technical one, or one of keeping records, though doing these things well can only help. Any information model, any discharge of a contract, can only be as successful as the team that creates and uses it.

National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012

Hope you enjoy reading the full report.

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A Framework for Efficient Life-cycle Management of Facilities