Only a third of contracts in use today refer directly to BIM, according to evidence from the National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2015, conducted by RIBA Enterprises’ National Building Specification (NBS).
Over the past year only 33% of respondents said that they had worked on a project that referred to BIM in the contract.
Although this represents an increase on the 10% recorded in the last survey in 2012, it contrasts with a survey finding that half of respondents had worked on a public sector project in the last 12 months.
On the other hand, more than half (58%) of respondents believe that, in the organisation they work for, a BIM model is recognised as contractually binding, in the same way as specifications or drawings.
Adrian Malleson, head of research, analysis and forecasting at the NBS, commented that there was a mismatch between peoples’ perception of the legal status of BIM models, and translating this into the contract.
“We can draw the conclusion that majority feel that a BIM does have a contractual standing. People believe that if a BIM is delivered to a client or another organisation that it is a legally binding model.
“In practice, when we ask people what they are actually doing, things are slightly different to people’s perceptions. Two thirds of people are not referring to BIM in their contracts at all. So while people see a BIM as legally binding the status of the contracts is someway behind that. There is a bit of catching up to do on the contract side of things."
Please state whether, in the past 12 months, you have…
He added that the percentage of people referring to BIM in contracts is not proportionate to the rise in BIM adoption. “I had expected the percentage to be higher, particularly given that half the people surveyed had worked on a public sector project in the past 12 months. Possibly one reason is that people are working in BIM environments, but are outputting in traditional forms?” he speculated.
In other findings, only 23% of respondents referenced specific outputs of BIM in their contracts and only 14% were “fully integrating” BIM into their contracts, suggesting that the industry’s legal practice hasn’t caught up with BIM adoption.
“We are in a period of rapid change, with some areas setting the pace and others trying to keep up. You wouldn’t expect legal practice to lead, working practice usually comes first,” says Malleson.
In my organisation we recognise BIM as contractually binding, in the same way as specifications or drawings…
This year’s survey also recorded an increase in collaborative behaviours, compared to the last report in 2012, but it also suggested that there has been an increase in the number of disputes.
However, Malleson believes that the impact of greater BIM adoption means that we can expect a decrease in disputes in next year’s survey: “With the increased levels of collaboration and BIM you would expect the number of disputes to fall, but they haven’t. However, innovative technology such as BIM takes a long time to change attitudes.”
"I expect, all things being equal, with the mandate deadline passing we should see BIM adoption rise over the next year, which should lead to more collaboration and therefore a reduction in the number of disputes.”
Two thirds of people are not referring to BIM in their contracts at all. So while people see a BIM as legally binding the status of the contracts is someway behind that. There is a bit of catching up to do on the contract side of things.– Adrian Malleson, NBS