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By:  Michael K. Ke Chiara, Esq and
Marianne Merritt Talbot, Esq.

Zetlin & De Chiara, LLP

The era of BIM (an acronym for “Building Information Modeling”) is arriving.  Although not yet a formal part of the traditional design process, the inexorable advance of technology is bringing this dramatic design and construction tool closer to daily reality.  Industry experts have opined that within 10 years, BIM will be the principal construction delivery tool.  What is BIM?  In its purest form, it is a model-based technology that utilizes one database for all design and construction elements and processes.  This single database could conceptually be accessed by dozens –and perhaps hundreds—of personnel during the life of a project.  Design information from all disciplines is fed into the BIM database—from architectural designs and specifications to structural and mechanical systems information such as HVAC ducting, piping and structural slabs, columns and shearwalls.  The data base contains and connects all elements of a completed building to one main database of linked project information.  Thus, for example, if a change were made to one element of the design, the sophisticated BIM database would automatically reconfigure all related elements embedded in the interrelated database.  A BIM database will go well beyond the traditional use of 2-D modeling and will have the capacity to work in 3-D, 4-D (construction scheduling) and even 5-D (cost-flow analysis).  The database could dramatically reduce waste in construction, including time delays caused by RFIs and change orders.  It could also detect design errors and omissions in early stages of a project.

Although BIM may ultimately save time and expense in design and construction processes, making it appealing to owners, issues such as those raised in the questions contained in the balance of this article must be adequately and fairly resolved in order to ensure that all professionals on such projects are protected and rewarded for their efforts.  Not surprisingly, these protections will be overwhelmingly dependent upon the contract terms agreed upon between all parties to a project.  At a minimum, design professionals will need contract provisions that will place a realistic limit on their liability for any BIM-related issues, as well as all liability which may generally arise in the context of a professional’s involvement in a project.  While design professionals and their counsel should always fight for limitations of liability in their contracts, such limitations become critical in the context of BIM…………….  The balance of this article and several other excellent articles on BIM are available as a pdf document at the link immediately below.

http://www.zdlaw.com/newsletters/2006_volume11_num4.pdf

Copyright 2006, ConstructionRisk.com, LLC

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J. Kent Holland, Jr., Esq.

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