SOURCE: Applied Software

May 12, 2008 09:36 ET

Resolving Risk Issues Key to Widespread Adoption of BIM

New Collaborative "Shared Project Model" Framework Requires New Contracts and Insurance to Protect All Participants in the Building Process

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwire - May 12, 2008) - The new Building Information Modeling (BIM) method of designing and constructing buildings is challenging the legal system and insurance structure that protects architects, designers, building contractors, construction companies and owners as the line dividing responsibility blurs. This leaves questions about how to protect each participant in the building process, as well as the intellectual property and confidential information that may be contained in the building model.

According to experts presenting at Applied Software's Executive Roundtable on "Confronting the Challenges and Opportunities in Integrated Practice, Collaborative Design and BIM" held earlier this year in Atlanta, BIM is changing the paradigm from the traditional design/bid/build process to a "shared project model." Applied Software is rapidly establishing itself as the regional expert in the emerging BIM space.

"BIM technology allows for the development of a collaborative framework for design and construction," said moderator Gregg Bundschuh, J.D., executive vice president and partner at the specialty insurance brokerage of Ames & Gough. "As such, it can expand or lessen the boundaries of project delivery responsibility depending on the extent of risk assumed by the participants, traditional insurance policies will need to be modified."

According to Tony Smith, senior partner for Construction & Infrastructure Projects at Kilpatrick Stockton, LLP, BIM is viewed as a new project delivery method as opposed to an influence on traditional building approaches, and with it comes new risks, new rewards and new relationships.

"Trying to fit the BIM concept of doing business into the existing legal structure is akin to the old adage about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole," said Smith. "There are problems with the BIM structure within our legal format that have at times led practitioners and their attorneys to contractually wall off the building model, thus depriving the model of its utility."

Legal experts agree that for BIM to achieve its promise, changes must be made to industry standard contracts, insurance policies and surety bonds, for example, to support collaboration between parties, while providing legal protection. "BIM requires a completely new and integrated set of standard contract documents as well as adjustments to accepted legal principles of construction law," added Smith. "Fortunately, some changes are already being made."

To this end, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently published two new standard form documents to facilitate the transmittance of digital data: the Digital Data Licensing Agreement (C106™-2007) and the Digital Data Protocol Exhibit (E201™-2007).

"The line between design and construction continue to blur as integrated practice continues to develop, but the new AIA forms could ease the transition to collaborative e-construction by laying out conditions for digital data exchange among building team members, all the way from the owner to the mechanical subcontractor," said Smith. Additionally, the new forms also are intended to mitigate the designer's fear about the potential misuse and theft of digital intellectual property.

BIM promises exponential improvements in construction quality and efficiency, but current business and contract models inhibit the adoption of such a collaborative framework. To bring BIM into the mainstream, experts contend that business models and contract relationships must be rewritten to reward "best of" project decision-making and to allocate responsibility among the involved parties equitably, while protecting the intellectual property and confidential information embedded in a building information model. Attorneys and industry groups are actively working to address the necessary legal changes.

"BIM presents a better, more efficient and less costly way to design and construct buildings and while its collaborative framework should serve to reduce overall liability, it's clear that careful consideration must be given to the legal issues for it to move beyond the early adopter phase into widespread use," said Richard Burroughs, president of Applied Software.

Applied Software, a leading and nationally recognized Autodesk® Value-Added Reseller, sponsored the roundtable that drew more than a hundred representatives from architectural and engineering design firms, construction companies and building owners in the Atlanta region to hear varying perspectives on the benefits and challenges facing companies that plan to adopt BIM for designing and constructing buildings.

About Applied Software

Headquartered in Atlanta with a sales, service and training center in Charlotte, North Carolina, Applied Software is the largest Autodesk reseller in the region. An AutoCAD Authorized Reseller since 1982, the company provides consulting, implementation, customization, training and integrated practice management services as well as mentoring and project management to architects, engineers, contractors and facility managers in the commercial, government and educational sectors of the A/E/C industry. A leader in the emerging field of Building Information Modeling (BIM), Applied Software is an Autodesk Premier Solutions Provider in the Building Solutions and Education Solutions Divisions, and was named to the Autodesk Platinum Club in 2007 and 2008. Applied Software is also an Authorized Autodesk Training Center employing a team of architects, engineers and designers with decades of real-world experience to assist and educate its customers in the use of Autodesk solutions. More information about Applied Software is located at

Autodesk and AutoCAD are registered trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and/or other countries. C106 and E201 are trademarks of the American Institute of Architects.

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