The Use Of BIM In Dispute Resolution

In the September edition of Civil Engineering Surveyor magazine Alasdair Snadden wrote an article looking at how Building Information Modeling (BIM) can be used in the dispute resolution process. This got us thinking about how surveying could be used to assist in dispute resolution and particularly in the creation of a Building Model. Typically, surveying is undertaken in the early stages of a project and involves the creation of Topographic and Measured Building Surveys. Surveyors are then utilised to set out procedures, and in some cases in the production of built external and internal drawings, towards the later stages.

One of the clear objectives and benefits of BIM is that at the end of a construction project the model is still available for use within building maintenance, facilities management and as the basis of future modifications to the building, saving both time and money in the long term. The BIM created for construction purposes could be used in its original form for the entire life cycle of the building. Alternatively, for a more precise model, it’s possible to resurvey the building at various stages during the construction in order to use the data to create an accurate ‘as built’ BIM. The latter will require a resurvey during each building phase to ensure that accurate data of each element is recorded.

In theory, the building can be ‘virtually pre constructed’ in the BIM to check construction sequencing and clash detection. However, the reality of construction is that things are rarely built exactly to design. The BIM will also have greater value in the future if it accurately represents the physical construction.

‘As-built’ surveys undertaken during construction will normally enable positional and tolerance checking as the work progresses. On a BIM project, ‘as-built’ survey data collected will also be useful to either create a new model or modify the original one. If the surveys are undertaken throughout the construction phase, an accurate record of the construction will be built up layer by layer including both the positional information and also – important for dispute resolution – the time frame.

If the intensity of ‘as-built’ methodology (whether this is simple point cloud data for clash detection or modeled-up data for replace-and-use purposes) is part and parcel of the regular project management stage boundary sign-off, then this process would become part of the wider collaborative management routine of confirming compliance with design in a more timely fashion – which can only be good for the project and ultimately construction as a whole.

Laser scanning as a method of data collection readily lends itself to a low-site-impact high-output solution, which would work well in these busy and fluid environments. This could also be enhanced by the use of on-board photography to assist in feature recognition.

So how could this survey data help in disputes? As Alasdair Snadden points out in his article, “when disputes occur, understanding and explaining what occurred, why it occurred, and the relation to the agreements made is of paramount importance and often not simple to achieve”.

If survey data is captured regularly during the construction of the project the data can be interrogated both in position and in time. This could help demonstrate the sequence of events that led to any problem that arose and therefore be a very useful tool in resolving the dispute.

This article also highlights the importance of rigorous and robust document and model management where the currency of data is King and of critical importance to the on-going effectiveness of the BIM process. The role therefore of BIM Manager or whatever the particular title and their empowered responsibility across the working groups involved in all phases of a buildings life is one of significant importance. Co-operation therefore has never been more important to the successful implementation of the holistic BIM process in order that by its own endeavors the process helps to reduce the very disputes we are proposing solutions to.

Click here to find out more about our BIM and Revit Survey services.

To read the full ICES article please click here.