Construction Law Briefing Paper: New Building Technology Raises Contractual Risks

The technology available to builders is ever changing and now architects, builders and others involved in the design and construction industries can create three-dimensional models with the development of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software.

According to the August 2006 Construction Law Briefing Paper published by Fabyanske, Westra, Hart and Thompson, P.A., of Minneapolis, Minn., while the software that makes virtual construction and testing possible is available, it is not yet in widespread use and has the potential to create complicated legal scenarios.

As the Briefing Paper explains, the advantages for using BIM are great: with all the data provided, it would allow the virtual construction and allow designers to spot problem areas before construction begins. However, it could potentially also create legal problems surrounding ownership of the data used in creating the models when multiple companies are involved, as well as who becomes responsible for the quality control of the data used.

"As collaboration increases, the traditional lines of responsibility dissolve, and industry standard form contracts do not adequately allocate risk and responsibility between the parties," the paper says.

The paper does not seek to dissuade people from using the technology available, but advises "it is nevertheless prudent to be aware of the risks involved in this new paradigm."

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