BIM (Building Information Modeling) is establishing itself in construction as a new paradigm revolutionising the real estate world. Thanks to this technology, it is now possible to create a virtual building prior to its construction, to then measure its characteristics, as well as its design and operating constraints.

The virtual model thus created also allows for the follow-up of the construction, maintenance and repairs required on the basis of the available plans, and also serves as a support for any subsequent construction disputes.

To create this digital model, each actor in the real estate chain must structure its data according to a particular model, exchange data, collaborate with the project owner and other tradespersons as well as share its knowledge and plans, and must do so during the entire lifespan of the building.

BIM thus imposes the following new technical and legal constraints that operators must now master:

  • Choice of hardware and software;
  • Compatibility of systems and software;
  • Interoperability of tools;
  • Portability of data; and
  • Legal consequences of their choices on their own obligations and responsibilities.

As of the contractual phase, the parties will need to negotiate BIM-specific clauses, including the choice of a BIM-dedicated project manager, the follow-up modalities, the intellectual property of the virtual model and its different layers, the responsibility for its preservation and updating during adaptation or maintenance work on the building.

Additionally, the issue of relationships with the software publishers necessary for the information modeling arises. The choice of software supporting the model will have consequences on the total BIM cost, on the choice of partners and on the technical characteristics of the virtual model. It is possible to opt for a certain standardisation (for example, with the ISO 19650 standard), but that is not always the case. In particular, one wants to avoid a captive situation with a publisher whose prices could skyrocket due to market concentration.

By their technical and legal choices, the parties will have to ensure the durability of the virtual model over time, at a reasonable price, and in a computer language sufficiently known and widespread such that it is accessible to all of the professionals who will be involved.

Public procurement does not escape this trend, and participation in contracts involves the mastery of these new techniques, from both an IT and a legal perspective.

In any case, the intervention of legal counsel experienced in IT will ensure the legal security of the entire BIM project beyond traditional constraints.


By Renaud LE SQUEREN