There is a new phrase called “responsible controls” being floated around with BIM. This will be a huge test for the protection of intellectual property as the design community (those under 40, anyway) have now embraced the concept of a collaborative, online construction/design community. Let’s watch closely how this goes.
The idea is that everyone on a design team (knowledge integration) will collaborate to design and construct a building and any problems would be resolved prior to the start of construction. Controls will be put in place to prevent the hacking and stealing of protected design information, but appropriate information would still be available to everyone on the job site.
Architects worry that the design would be replicated and they wouldn’t be being compensated for it. But, my concern for the integrators would be the issue of liability when everyone has a voice in the design. For example, when something fails, who gets sued?
Have responsible controls caused anything to change? Or, have they changed everything? My advice for those involved in “design team” or BIM or IPD projects is to make sure you have specific professional liability coverage and/or errors & omissions (E&O) insurance. As always, think carefully before contributing “knowledge” to the design, or advising the consultant in any way to alter specifications or work results. Of course, if you are a design-build firm, you should already have E&O coverage.
Some contractors, who want to expand beyond the bid market, go into the design-build or negotiated sales market. Our insurance experts strongly recommend errors and omissions insurance anytime you design or contribute knowledge or expertise to the design. Your general liability (GL) insurance doesn’t carry any coverage for workmanship. In other words, if you design a system and it doesn’t work, or if it negatively affects the building in another way, your general liability policy does not cover that. It covers you if your installers break something, but has no protection for quality of work. Be sure to audit your insurance product now, especially if you plan to be involved in any form of knowledge sharing on projects.