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BIM Emerging as Legal Standard of Care                                    April 2011                                      ...
Kimon Onuma, FAIA, a leader in the use of Building Information Models delayed the start ofhis presentation to ask Salmon m...
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Emerging BIM Standard of Care


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A Masters Class in the Architecture Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago revealed significant insight on the emerging legal issues surrounding Building Information Models and related business processes. It is evident that BIM is a new Standard of Care that is used in the building industry.

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Emerging BIM Standard of Care

  1. 1. BIM Emerging as Legal Standard of Care April 2011 By Michael Bordenaro BIM Education Co-op Co-founder and LinkedIn Member During a Masters of Architecture class in a Louis Sullivan Chicago landmark, building-industry legal leader James Salmon, Esq. informed the students, and the other specialpresenters that BIM is emerging as a new “Standard of Care” in the U.S. justice system.The School of the Art Institute of Chicagos Architecture Department Masters class, held inSullivans Carson Pirie Scott & Company building at State and Madison, was treated to aspecial presentation including Salmon and Building Information Model leaders ProfessorHector Camps, and Kimon Onuma, FAIA.Leading off the special web-based class with a presentation on Integrated Project Delivery,Salmon described a recent case he helped settle out of court by showing that BuildingInformation Modeling processes would have alerted the team to problems in the pre-construction phase before they surfaced in the field.Salmon engaged Camps, who teaches Building Information Modeling at Miami Dade College,to create a virtual model of the troubled project based on the original, 2D constructiondocuments. The 3D model clearly showed the problems that eventually arose in the field. Building Information Model image of improper stair details that could have been identified in the design stage . Image by Prof. Hector Camps of Miami Dade College and PHI-Cubed, Inc.The legal team, of which Salmon was a member, showed defendants that using a Standard ofCare commonly achieved with Building Information Models points out problems in designdocuments before construction. The legal team indicated they would tell a jury that if thebuilding team responsible for the construction problems would have made a BuildingInformation Model, the issues would have been identified and addressed before theymanifested in the field. The case was settled out of court.
  2. 2. Kimon Onuma, FAIA, a leader in the use of Building Information Models delayed the start ofhis presentation to ask Salmon more about the meaning of “Standard of Care” and themeaning of this settlement.Salmon says, “A professional standard of care is specific to community or locality. A ruraldoctor may be held to one standard of care while a doctor practicing at John Hopkins mightbe held to a higher standard of care. The same is deemed to be true of design professionalsas the Ohio Administrative Code makes clear.”The Ohio Administrative Code states “... a registered architect shall act with reasonable careand competence and shall apply the knowledge and skill which is ordinarily applied byregistered architects of good standing, practicing in the same locality.”Salmon says, “The "locality" of competent design professionals is quickly being redefined bythe Internet and ubiquitous access to information regarding Integrated Project Delivery,Building Information Models and Lean processes on the web. In my business communityKimon and Hector clearly demonstrate what a reasonable building industry professional woulddo. As buildingSMART alliance board of direction members, they demonstrate provenbusiness practices.”Salmon added, “Others will have a different Standard of Care. But in my community, if youhire professionals who understand and engage in proven BIM business processes, you wontgo to court. You will build the building virtually first. Your collaborative partners will help youresolve problems and share in financial rewards for achieving team goals.”Salmon indicated that building industry professionals have been advised in the past not toshare their Models for fear of being sued. “Now, it is possible to be sued if you do not useBuilding Information Modeling software in a manner consistent with emerging industrystandards,” Salmon says. “You might be embarrassed if your Model is inaccurate, but it isbetter to be embarrassed and have a successful project that it is to be sued for not having aBuilding Information Model.”Onuma “Tweeted” his understanding of this key legal perspective within 24 hours.The fact that building industry leaders are educating each other “on the fly” as they areteaching students indicates that dramatic changes are occurring at a rapid pace in thebuilding industry. There is much uncertainty as to the best way to gain benefits from thenumerous technological developments happening on a regular basis. A good way to keep onthese developments is to join the buildingSMART alliance: signed up for Salmons Blog; followOnuma on Twitter and see Camps approaches to Revit education, CATIA and general BIM. Building Information Model business processes, as represented by the Army Corps of Engineers supported Construction-Operation Building Information Exchange are being required by federal agencies. ONUMA, Inc. provides a free COBIE Checker to help building industry professionals comply with federal requirements. Collaborative Construction Blog at: Find Onumas Twitter feeds at See more about Camps educational material at