The other legal concern with BIM is that even though it has been in implementation for over ten years it is a new frontier in the industry that until guidelines and benchmarks are established, preferably by government agencies, there will always be some risk associated with BIM. There is a definite need for protection to avoid becoming the target of a lawsuit and the general liability insurance should include some sort of rider to mitigate the new blurring of roles for the contractor. I do feel that the use of BIM will actually help to reduce the insurance premiums with demonstration of how BIM helps the firm to deliver higher quality projects while mitigating safety concerns and risk.
Contractually, several items need to be considered from the implementation of a BIM Management Plan, its constant updating tied to the contract, and the collaborative partnering of the firms in the project. Some contract amendments should be made earlier, rather than using standard forms of contracts and some subcontractors should be retained earlier in the process. The Consensus Docs 301 really handles the legal and contractual items well in conjunction with a proper BIM Management Plan tied to the contracts. It covers model hand-off, model quality, risk of loss, licensing of models, and it defines acceptable model use among other topics. These items are often looked over and left out of contracts putting contractors at risk.
The risks are numerous in any frontier yet the rewards for those who make the calculated risk are also numerous. BIM does not eliminate failure and that risk is always a reality. Complacency with the models provided can cause major errors to occur in the project. Trying to come up with new ways to solve old problems is never going to work perfectly.
Even if the solution is good it does not mean integration will be effective. Sometimes solutions don’t take with a group even though they solve the problem. For example a Pre-Construction group makes the change to Autodesk QTO for their quantity take-off needs. Yet the group does not feel comfortable using the software or does not have confidence in the models; the software and the process did not fail but the group was not ready to move in the direction of model based take-off. This can be a risk if implementation is pushed too fast.
The BIM gap, where project members and firms see BIM as something completely separate from their core job function is one of these risk. This gap is the most serious issue facing any firm and a successful full implementation of BIM. As you can probably tell this is something we at Epic BIM feel strongly about.
There will always be lawsuits and BIM will not eliminate lawsuits and claims; it hopefully will reduce them, but never eliminate them. The key is to have the right protection in place sort of like having a raincoat when you need it.