using and sharing BIM on your next project

What you need to know …

As Building Information Modeling (BIM) becomes more mainstream in the documentation of projects what should you be aware of in deciding whether of not to use this technology?  And what risks could lie ahead that you should know about?

BIM is fast becoming a regularly requested deliverable by Architects and other consultants, and its easy to see why.  It delivers a high level of refinement in document production, can save costs from both documentation point of view and reduce clashes and inconsistencies on site.  BIM in time will be the standard service, which is developed for builders and then building owners to own and use rather than an extra service added on to projects.

But in saying this, an unrealistically high expectation of what it can do may lead to disappointment, so we have put together the following guide.


Who owns the IP?

One common sticking point is who owns the model that has been created by multiple teams working together.  Opposing views are ownership rests with the consultant verses with the project proprietor.

  • There are few reasons that make this a logical progression for BIM:
  • The work is paid for by the proprietor, they have effectively paid for the time put into generating the model itself.
  • The building owner will be closest to the information and reality of the model in the long term.

They key intellectual property that designers do own within their work is the design of the work itself.  It is the design that asset users see and appreciate, and this should be copy-written rather than the method of recording the design itself.

If the ownership of the model sits externally to the owner, a blockage is created to the best usage of the same model, counter to the very purpose of the model.

There will be times when the owner themselves may not be able to operate the model, but this should not be used as a reason that they do not hold title to the information.

It is important when initiation BIM documentation that the ownership of the IP is clearly documented from the start.


Interoperability and software compatibility

Although  proprietary systems can sometimes cause headaches in moving between packages, the software used to create a BIM in the end is only a tool, and other tools are able to work on that Model also.

We do however advocate that the Australian Government should mandate a standard for the interoperability of all platforms to benefit the construction industry.  We believe that software providers should be encouraged to work to provide interoperable files natively as an option within their software.

When initiating a BIM project check your team is experienced and able to supply you with the data you require.  Webber can provide interoperability files natively in most CAD file formats I.e. dwg, dxf, pln, rvt, dgn etc.


Having an understanding of BIM and what you are trying to achieve

One of the key things to address when considering BIM in a project is the awareness and understanding of it and its capabilities.  BIM can streamline many of the steps in the development cycle, it can help quickly produce renders and images for sales and marketing.  It can streamline feasibility calculations for a project.  It can deliver a set off coordinated consultant’s documents without clashes for reduced time and cost during construction.  And it can provide a comprehensive model for facilities management that can be used by the asset owners and managers.  But you simply do not need all of these functions.  As Architects part of our role is to educate our clients on what BIM is and, as their understanding progresses, assist them in taking steps to implement BIM that can support their business, eyes wide open for both the benefits and downsides of this new methodology.


The benefits of BIM and achieving the best result

While BIM may bring about some initial concerns around ownership and interoperability, we see that it delivers many benefits.  BIM will deliver significant time savings and overall increased value if used the right way, and in the right application.  As a client, you have a key role in encouraging and adopting BIM on construction projects.  By understanding the things you should know, we hope it give you greater confidence to take the steps towards realising BIM’s benefits on your projects.


Written by Andrew Barnard, Associate at Webber Architects


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