Regulatory Processes and Collaborative BIM
The need for construction industry regulators to align their processes through collaborative BIM is increasingly evident. Much focus has been given to urge owner operators to identify their requirements, but this emphasis could equally apply to establishing regulatory needs. It is particularly relevant where they are involved in the regulation of related health and safety, sustainability or the planning and building of new development and significantly during the detailed design phase of a project.
Firstly – planning and building control, conservation, heritage or environmental consent or permit processes are onerous and time-consuming to project teams and costly to clients. Regulators have to interpret national, regional/state and local regulations, codes, standards and by-laws and keep reviewing inevitable changes in project planning and design. Ways to improve streamline design management processes and increase productivity are desirable.
Secondly – by providing traditionally unintegrated “preconstruction services,” trade contractors can find themselves operating in silos, unable to contribute efficiently to a constantly evolving design process and relegated to dealing with business variables onsite. In these situations, regulators often discover various discrepancies between what planned and as-built conditions. Welcome ways to integrate their efforts to avoid costly duplication and rework.
Collaborative BIM contracts, methods and techniques can accelerate the design management process with greater clarity and accuracy, improve and expedite the regulatory approval processes related to it.
Regulation compliance through BIM has now been declared a feasible option thanks to the findings from the multi-disciplinary RegBIM project.
Integrating Regulatory Agencies with Integrated Project Delivery through Collaborative BIM
Innovative collaborative delivery approaches with flexible and responsive contracts are often known as “Integrated Project Delivery” (IPD) models.
Experience has proven that it is a combination of technology and a collaborative ideology, such as IPD, that yields the greatest returns.
BIM has stimulated the IPD model for owners, design professionals, and contractors and enabled regulatory agencies brought into it. It reduces what was once an iterative and linear decision-making exercise into an information rich and legible process, with greater simultaneity.
Integration of regulatory processes with BIM provides the following benefits at all stages, particularly during the detailed design phase:
- Earlier integration of design team input leads to more rapid design progress for regulatory review of variables such as trade practices, of product and performance characteristics and constructability.
- Earlier involvement of regulatory health and safety, planning or building control, environmental or conservation inspectors or officers during the detailed design process.
- Early contractor engagement, during this pre-construction phase, allows them to contribute to the BIM “virtual” information pool, allowing for designer incorporation and immediate regulatory review.
It should also recognize that technology alone cannot deliver the level of results expected. The key challenge of collaborative BIM is that:
- Project stakeholders must be able to skilfully use and improve the application of the most relevant technologies to help achieve better value and savings, while creating practical and innovative solutions, including the IPD model.
Planning and Building Regulations / Permits and Collaborative BIM
The particular benefit of aligning the planning and building regulation or permit approval processes with collaborative BIM methodology is that the geometric relationships established by digital BIM models facilitate clash detection and allow BIM objects that contravene building or planning regulations revealed immediately.
However, to work well during the detailed design phase, this does require alignment of BIM skills (predominantly geometric detailing skills as well as data handling skills) with regulatory understanding and appropriate training for those involved vital.
It is also legally necessary to define the position of any 2D drawings required for obtaining building approval and permits and the level of information and reliance to be placed on them.
Construction Health and Safety Regulations and collaborative BIM
Construction Health and Safety Regulation and BIM have shared aims. Both intend to improve and refine the construction process, including its data management and exchange.
Design and construction approval duties of regulatory enforcement organizations, agencies and inspectors represent a significant proportion of the program and budget of a project.
The fusion of construction health and safety regulatory processes requires participants to have to some extent both construction health and safety and BIM skills at least from the detailed design phase and even before. Appropriate training is, therefore, paramount for those involved is important to ensure compliance with local, regional or state, national and even international regulations, codes and standards.
Sustainability Regulations and Collaborative BIM
The absence of the right information at the right time is a common problem in the decision-making process of achieving a sustainable building. For design teams to appreciate the requirements of multidisciplinary collaboration, transparency and a shared understanding of the process are needed to identify ‘best practices’ in sustainable building design.
The previously mentioned RegBIM proposal developed a scalable environmental regulatory BIM solution with a focus on environmental and sustainability regulatory compliance. Targeted standards included relevant environmental certification process, building regulations and building energy management systems.
Next Steps for the Integration of Regulatory Processes and Collaborative BIM
There are three key areas of development for the integration of regulatory processes with collaborative BIM, automated regulatory checking, the increased use of BIM by regulators and the harmonization of BIM standards and regulatory training. Explained further here:
1) Automated regulatory checking
A move towards automating the compliance processes expects to reduce the time and cost of them as well as reducing the probability compliance assessment errors.
Automatic checking and validation of requirements for regulatory compliance forecast to would provide benefits to the AEC industry. The collaborative RegBIM project had the goal of establishing a non-platform specific mechanism to deliver BIM-based regulatory checking services to the construction sector.
2) Increased use of collaborative BIM by regulators
There are early signs that some regulators were accepting the submission of digital models, particularly at the planning approval stage of the detailed design phase, but this is not yet an obligation, nor is it a requirement for building regulations approval, construction health, and safety or environmental consent processes. There are however steps being taken in all these areas to develop the integration of such processes and to streamline the necessary information sharing required along the way.
3) Harmonization of BIM standards and regulatory training
An increasing range of BIM training opportunities is available for individuals within legal organizations. These include the following:
- In the UK all in the construction industry wishing to participate in public projects post 2016 will need to be confident and capable with BIM. To meet this objective, training opportunities put in place through building research and standard organizations such as the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the British Standards Institution (BSI).
- In the US BIM training is prevailingly platform led by a leading software developer.
- In Canada, the BIM Council offers comprehensive BIM training.
The RegBIM project proved the concept of regulatory checking, but it also identified the lack of consistent data standards available to the industry to facilitate this. Find out more about prevailing standards during the detailed design phase across the UK, US and Canada further in the whitepaper 2.0 BIM during the Detailed Design Phase.
IndiaCADworks provides comprehensive BIM services relevant to all project phases, including during the detailed design phase when regulatory processes aligned with collaborative BIM methodologies and techniques.