Australia: “Only a matter of time” before BIM protocols introduced

Credit: CBP Lawyers
Credit: CBP Lawyers

A construction and engineering lawyer has stated that it is “only a matter of time” before “either the private or public sector” in Australia creates BIM protocols “to take fuller advantage of cost and time efficiencies” like other parts of the world.

Lindsay Prehn of CBP Lawyers has published a report looking at the various positive benefits that adopting a Building Information Modelling process can provide whilst also listing Australian BIM trends and comments on how although Australia are performing well in the world’s BIM climate, they can reach newer heights with more help.

Australia would benefit if specific protocols, universal definitions and standard form contracts were developed for the implementation of BIM, so that inconsistencies do not develop across jurisdictions,” expressed Prehn.

“The private sector has continued to embrace and drive the use of Building Information Modelling in Australia. BIMs have been used on recent high-profile projects such as Northwest Rail Link (NSW), Adelaide Oval (SA) and Cape Lambert Port B (WA) to name a few.

“While BIM is being widely used in Australia, its use in the market will not be assured until such time as there is greater certainty as to the protocols around how BIMs are implemented and how stakeholders’ rights are managed, either in an existing or a new legal framework. Some argue that this requires the government to take a formal or mandating position on the use of BIM.”

So in what ways can the rights of project stakeholders be improved compared the current situation? Prehn elaborates: “The great benefit of BIM is that it encourages greater collaboration between all stakeholders, resulting in time and cost efficiencies. However, it is this very collaboration that risks blurring the lines of responsibility between the various consultants, contractors and subcontractors, which raises the greatest concerns legally for how a party’s rights and responsibilities are managed when participating in a BIM.

“As there has been very little litigation regarding building information models, it remains to be seen what would happen in circumstances where a party submits incomplete design information.”

Although optimistic regarding the implementation of protocols, Prehn is also realistic, and believes that unfortunately, Australia is nowhere close to receiving a BIM mandate from the Government.

“As the use of BIM takes root in even wider aspects of construction, infrastructure and mining, it is surely only a matter of time before either the private or public sector formulates a protocol to take fuller advantage of the cost and time efficiencies which the US is already enjoying.

“While a helpful endorsement of the benefits of BIM, this is still a long way from a mandate and leaves the private sector to continue utilising BIM in a vacuum with no specific protocols for the implementation of BIM, no universal definitions and no standard form contracts.”

Click here to read Prehn’s complete article full of interesting questioned raised.

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