Trust and the team

Last week, I touched on the issue of trust in sharing digital design information. It crops up again in an interesting article, BIM and Risk, by Richard Lowe in the US-based “Constructor” magazine (found, by the way, via the CADwire Insights weekly newsletter). He opens with a simple analogy:

“The argument in favor of using virtual 3D modeling as a way to reduce risk for the construction community seems as simple as the reasons to use seat belts. When seat belts became popular in the 1960s, insurance companies offered discounts to encourage their use to reduce the cost of losses in a crash.

“Today, a similar technological leap presents itself in the construction arena. With the advent of 3D modeling and virtual “clash detection,” the project team can catch potential conflicts sooner and cheaper, with more cooperation from subcontractors. A 3D model offers more specific design information than 2D drawings. Given that the world is 3D and not 2D, how can that additional specificity be a bad thing for project liability?”

Regarding that trust issue – the designers’ fears that someone other than project leaders can change the model without their knowledge or approval – Richard writes:

“That issue can easily be addressed by adopting a protocol where all changes to the model must come from the designated team leaders. They need to establish tight access controls and an audit trail of additions to the model that clearly identifies the source and date of all changes.”

The article also goes on to look at liability protection issues. In Richard’s view, reliance on BIM is no different from reliance on 2D plans:

“That analysis should be no different whether the 2D plans are copied and distributed to someone on the project than if a 3D model is made available to the same person.”

He concludes:

“… the perceived legal risks in using 3D modeling melt away and are outweighed by the obvious benefits of clash detection and greater project collaboration. It should be only a matter of time before insurers offer discounts to encourage clients to wear the clash-detection “seat belts” of 3D modeling. Ultimately, the question will morph into whether team leaders actually increase risks by not using 3D modeling, much like not using seat belts.”

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  1. […] more collaborative forms of contract (see NEC case study in Building, for example, and my post on Trust and the team). As Phil writes, there are some fascinating possibilities if you begin to look at contracts, […]

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