The Society of Construction Law Australia is going from strength to strength. Tonight it is running a session on BIM in several cities; see details.
BIM is really important. Its name – Building Information Modelling – does not give much away, but it is a radically different way of designing buildings. Instead of drawing lines on a piece of paper, or digitally using a CAD system, designers insert objects into a model. The object might be, for example, a piece of glass. The object is inserted with parameters, like its location (in 3D of course). Other parameters, like the density of the glass, its thermal properties etc, will have been set by the manufacturer. Everybody involved in the project uses the same information. The BIM system will identify clashes (where for example a piece of secondary steel is seeking to occupy the same place as some ductwork). It will instantly return all sorts of data about the building (such as its thermal efficiency). Conventionally, 4D BIM provides information about time, and 5D BIM provides information about cost.
By its nature, BIM requires a cooperative approach that is obviously good for the efficiency of the construction process. It also raises interesting and difficult questions about responsibility if things go wrong. For example, an element of an-shore structure might be mooring chain. That element will have parameters as to its resistance to corrosion. But that might have been assessed in the context of North Sea conditions – about 10 degrees centigrade. What if that parameter is transferred to a tropical site, where temperatures and thus corrosion rates are much higher? These sorts of questions are likely to present entirely new challenges for construction lawyers in the years to come.
I will be at Adelaide site; it would be well worthwhile for construction lawyers throughout Australia to go along to their local site.
Last week’s event in Sydney, by the way, went well: I am told it was the biggest turnout ever for a NSW SoCLA event. I spoke about payment disclaims and Babushka contracting as means of avoiding the unpleasant risks of the supporting statements now required for head contractor payment claims. it will be interesting to see how the industry in NSW tackles this one.