08 August 2017

The CIC Building Information Model (BIM) Protocol - Standard Protocol for use in projects using Building Information Models was published by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) in 2013.

Why was the CIC BIM Protocol developed?

The Government Construction Strategy 2011 set out the requirement for the delivery of all project and asset information, documentation and data in electronic form (3D collaborative BIM) on all public-sector projects by 2016.

Meeting the requirements of BIM Level 2 requires the creation of a managed 3D environment which is drawn from a range of models and associated data produced by separate disciplines.

Meeting the 'BIM mandate' would therefore require a range of legal and contractual issues to be considered as multiple stakeholders would be required to come together to share their own assets and work together on combined assets.

What is the Protocol designed to do?

The Protocol identifies building information models that are required to be produced by the project team and puts in place specific obligations, liabilities and associated limitations on the use of those models.

What form does the Protocol take?

The Protocol is just part of a suite of standards, protocols and tools that underpin delivery to BIM Level 2 and is designed to be easy to apply. It takes the form of a supplementary seven-page legal agreement that can be easily incorporated into professional services appointments and construction contracts by way of a simple amendment.

The Protocol features two appendices and these are the only documents which need to be completed with specific project information. 

Appendix 1 includes the Model Production and Delivery Table (including references to all BIM models required by the employer at each stage of the project) and Appendix 2 contains Information Requirements (details of all the information management standards that will be required on a project).

You can find more information and download the CIC BIM Protocol from the BIM Task Group website. 

Who should use the Protocol?

The Protocol creates additional obligations and rights for the employer and the contracted party. It is based on the direct contractual relationship between the employer and the supplier but does not create additional rights or liabilities between different suppliers.

The Protocol might also be used by consultants or contractors working on a project in order to manage the work of sub-consultants and sub-contractors. Clients can also use the protocol to require the adoption of particular ways of working – adopting a common naming standard, for example.

What does the Protocol say about....?

  • Responsibilities, liabilities and limitations - these are defined for project team members in the Protocol.

  • Copyright - The Protocol gives the client the right to use information contained in project model(s) for the 'permitted purpose' intended given the level of detail set out. A client can also issue a sub-licence to allow other project team members to use models prepared by other project team members. Using third party models may require a new licence.

  • Expected deliverables - These are defined, as is the required level of detail (LOD) and when these should be provided via series of data drops at various project stages. Appendix 1 of the protocol features a Model Production and Delivery Table.
  • Collaborative practices and the use of PAS 1192-2 for information management - These are advocated but not prescribed by the Protocol. Information Management standards to be adopted on the project will be set out in Appendix 2.

When is the Protocol produced?

It is important that the Protocol and its appendices are made available pre-appointment and that changes to it or its appendices are treated as variations to the contract, following suitable change control procedures.

What priority does the Protocol take?

Because the Protocol takes the form of a supplementary document there may be occasions where there is conflict and inconsistency between the protocol and existing contractual agreements. Where this occurs the information contained in the Protocol should take precedence.

Who is responsible for ensuring the Protocol is followed?

The Protocol expects the client to appoint an information manager. Who actually undertakes this role may vary as a project develops (for example, a lead designer may take the role during the early stages and a contractor when construction starts).

The information manager is expected to ensure the model follows the Protocol and also has responsibility for ensuring the data is secure. The information manager has no responsibilities for co-ordination or clash detection - their focus is on the application of the Protocol.

Is the Protocol suitable for BIM Levels 3 and beyond?

The Digital Built Britain agenda will see the policy, processes and tools required to support working to BIM Levels 3 and beyond solidify. 

BIM Level 3 will see disciplines come together to develop a single online project model with construction sequencing and additional information on cost and lifecycle management incorporated.

Working out the contractual and legal issues associated with this greater level of collaboration will likely take some time and the CIC BIM Protocol in its current form is unlikely to cover these concerns sufficiently, requiring the development of new protocols.

What to read next... 

The CIC BIM Protocol - a critical analysis
This article from 2013 looks at the initial launch of the CIC BIM Protocol and its strengths and weaknesses.

BIM Levels explained
Definitions for levels of BIM maturity from Level 0, through Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 and beyond.

What is Digital Built Britain?
Digital Built Britain is the next stage of the UK's digital construction revolution and will see the principles and practices required for BIM Level 3 solidify.

BIM dimensions - 3D, 4D, 5D, 6D BIM explained
Linking extra 'dimensions' of data to your information models has the potential to give you a richer understanding of your construction project - how it will be delivered, what it will cost and how it should be maintained. Here we explore 3D, 4D, 5D and 6D BIM and show how adding extra information can make for more timely decisions and, ultimately, better buildings.

Why construction needs smart contracts
The time has come for construction contracts to go digital... enter the smart contract. But what exactly is a smart contract (or come to that a digital or intelligent one)? Moreover, what benefits does one offer over traditional wet-signed paper? Sarah Fox investigates.