Why BIM hasn’t become too much of a factor in construction claims and disputes, so far…

RICS, the UK Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, is ramping up their focus on Building Information Modeling (BIM) and its impact on the building industry. I found this recent article interesting:

The adoption of BIM and the subsequent BIM revolution, continues to have a major impact on every element of the construction industry – changing work flows and business relationships, restructuring how organisations interact and how data flows between companies. This rapid flow of data will increase the delivery speeds for projects and the use of a single system could result in cost and time savings as data transfer, conversion and potential data losses reduce.

In future, the information collected in the BIM process could be used in legal cases. The raw survey data and design completed on a project before it becomes included in the full BIM process and model has the potential to be used as a legal benchmark to prove project claims. This clarity on the origin and alteration of project data could drastically simplify future dispute resolution. Having all data in one fully visible project model will allow all parties to check data and ensure that everything is correct and to specification.

That last paragraph hints at the future possibility of leveraging data stored in the BIM file(s) to evaluate claims. Well, the future is here, and some of us are already doing that. Metadata contained within native BIM files, for example, could establish a chain of custody that shows how various parties made changes to the model. That’s just one potential application of the data contained within BIM files.

There are two primary reasons that we don’t see more use of BIM in a forensic setting:

  1. The attorneys handling most major claims aren’t familiar enough with the potential value that BIM metadata can bring to the discovery process.
  2. There aren’t too many forensic experts with any relevant experience with BIM who can thus advise their clients on what can and cannot likely be gained from iBIM analysis on a claim.