The “lessons learned” from a BIM demonstration project are to be serialised in a weekly blog by Clarkson Alliance, the project delivery company that acted as BIM information manager on the Meadow Road housing project (pictured).
The firm will publish 50 insights in a twice-weekly update on its website on Tuesdays and Thursdays leading up to April’s mandate start date, and will also publish a full free report to disseminate its findings before the mandate deadline.
Clarkson Alliance secured a grant from Innovate UK towards a research project to study how the client, construction teams and consultants at the 12-unit housing scheme on Meadow Road, Worthing, adapted to the implementation of BIM.
The client on the £1.4m project, featured as a case study on BIM+ and chosen to be representative of the industry’s mainstream workload, was housing association Worthing Homes, while the contractor was PMC Construction.
The project used Clearbox BIM, a software platform originally developed in-house by contractor Kier, to federate the models and create a Common Data Environment.
Clarkson Alliance managing director Graham Clarkson told BIM+ that the firm wanted to research the changes in dynamics and behaviours across the supply chain that would be necessary to leverage BIM’s advantages on a typical project. “We were testing everything in a live environment, where the reality can be far short of the ‘BIM wash’,” he summarised.
One of the findings, he said, was that the proposition of using BIM is initially resisted, because team members react to it as something they must do in addition to workloads, rather than viewing it as an alternative methodology that will save time and effort.
“If you’re trying to find out about the behaviour changes, you need to find a project that’s typical for the way the industry works. But because it’s a typical project, the neural pathways [of how people behave] are deeply furrowed.”
Another example was that people tended to default to using email to share drawings, outside of the project Common Data Environment. “It’s common practice, you come to work in the morning, switch on your laptop and check your emails. Then you’ve got inconsistent documents flying about.”
And a third issue noted was that although the client issued Employer’s Information Requirements – and these had contractual force under the JCT contract – there was no effort made by the client or its agent to enforce the EIRs contractually.
In fact, Clarkson says that the housing has been built with windows that don’t have intelligent data, meaning that the BIM model is not Level 2 compliant.
Clarkson explained: “If there was a defect in the physical asset you would be faced with a contractual penalty. Now contractors are waking up to the fact that they’re providing intelligent information, but is that treated in the same way as the physical asset?
“We found that where data wasn’t available as requested in the EIRs, no one issued a defect notice. It wasn’t on the client’s agent’s radar.
“Again, it’s about a change in behaviour. For the whole of their careers employer’s agents have noted defects in the physical asset, but they’re never had to do it for digital information. So people are in a new era and we’ve got to realise that,” he concluded.
If there was a defect in the physical asset you would be faced with a contractual penalty. Now contractors are waking up to the fact that they’re providing intelligent information, but is that treated in the same way as the physical asset?– Graham Clarkson, Clarkson Alliance