Building Information Modeling Contract Documents Arrive

October 23, 2008

This story first appeared on

The American Institute of Architects has released six new contract documents, five of which address integrated project delivery issues. The sixth is a first-edition “Building Information Modeling Protocol Exhibit” designed to help project organizers define their BIM development plan for integrated project delivery.

It has features designed to help organizers define model management arrangements, as well as authorship, ownership and level-of-development requirements at various project phases for the many elements that must be placed into BIM as it evolves.

“I believe the framework we have provided is as complete a solution as anyone can provide at this time,” says Bradley R. Milton, a principal with RDG Planning & Design in its Omaha office. He is a three-year member of the subcommittee that drafted the document. He says he offers his “at this time” caveat because the protocol is being published while BIM standards and practices are evolving. He expects it to probably be revised within a couple of years as experience grows. “It’s a best-practices process,” he says.

A key part of the document is a tabular section that helps define authorship and the level of refinement required for model elements contributed by team members at various phases of BIM development. They are organized by Construction Specifications Institute classification numbers and cover dozens of model elements to be contributed by parties in the team. Many model elements, such as plumbing or mechanical systems, may be represented at the lowest level of development, called LOD1, during the early phases of a project, or not modeled at all. But they must be delivered and refined as LOD3 or LOD4, the highest definition, as the project moves into construction.

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“It addresses the questions of ownership and responsibility, but a big one in my mind is simply scope,” says Milton. “It provides a framework so the owner and architect can sit down, and the architect can say, ‘I will develop BIM to this level for these elements and see if that is what the owner is looking for.’” The original intent is for it to be used with the integrated project-delivery mechanism, but Milton considers it a scoping document.

“One of the great benefits is that it lays out for the various parties involved what their individual responsibilities are in developing the model,” he says. “It's a relatively simple way to commit that to paper.”

One of the early declarations in the form is that the model will be managed by the architect, but Milton notes the protocol is supplied as an editable document. Users can modify such statements to suit their needs.

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