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Related Articles


Charging for the BIM file...

Charging for the BIM file...

Charging for the BIM file...

Had an interesting discussion this morning about the use of BIM files by contractors in preparing shop drawings, quantity estimates or connection design. We have noticed several contractors requesting the file on recent projects and it's become obvious to us that it is in the best interest of the job and client for us to provide it. For instance, on a recent project we were able to go from issuing design drawings to having approved shop drawings for a moderate sized steel job within a week! All of this was because our Revit model could allow the fabricator to produce shop drawings and connections almost without effort as opposed to them doing their own takeoffs of the printed documents.

So the thoughts on this went something along the lines of "well, if our legwork in preparing the model can be used by the fabricator / general contractor and significantly cut down on their work and subsquently their costs...why shouldn't we charge a nominal fee for supplying it". For isntance, if they save 10% of their overhead costs by using our model, wouldn't we be justified in charging them 1%-2% of their fee for supplying it?

Just curious what the thoughts are on this...anyone already doing this? If so, how are you implementing it and how is it going over?

Eastern United States

"If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death!"
~Code of Hammurabi

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

Good afternoon Kylesito,

An ironclad disclaimer would be in order no matter which way you go. But if you decide to provide a CAD or BIM model to another user and you charge a fee for its use(other than a minimal administrative fee) you will be held to a different standard of care in any following legal proceeding as compared to if you provided the model as a "courtesy" to the project team. It would be a very good idea to discuss this first with your professional liability insurer to see what your exposure would be.


RE: Charging for the BIM file...

I would definitely charge for it. Call your lawyer FIRST

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

Charge for it.

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

I think this would depend on how your project is managed. If the BIM system is mandated in the project, the contract should state the responsibilities to share. If you have produced the models and documents in this way independently, you can rightly charge a fee for their use.

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

Someday there will be a way to produce steel detailing drawings and reinforcing shop drawings directly from CAD files. I think it's close even now for the structural steel detailing. When this happens, the drawings have additional value and most certainly will take more work to do. If nothing else, you've taken on additional liability.
So my vote is charge for them. Detailing has value, your drawing has value. We sell ourselves short too often.

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

I think that's what the general thought was. There is incentive there for the fabricator to use our file to save their work, and there is incentive then for us to market that (and subsequently produce a file that is of a quality that someone would want it).

Eastern United States

"If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death!"
~Code of Hammurabi

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

While I agree that there is value in the files I see a huge liability here. Who is going to be blamed/bear the cost if something is wrong with the model? Are you going to have the fabricator pay for the model and then tell them that you have no responsibility to its accurateness? What would the fabricator be buying then?

I think it will be interesting to see what somebody like the AISC has to say about who owns the responsibility. Being an engineer, I tend to view the AISC as an engineering/code writing entity however their real purpose is to promote the steel construction industry. This means that they represent fabricators as well. Interesting.......

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

I have never charged a fee for a detailer to get our CAD files, but I make them sign a disclaimer. A BIM model is different to be sure, but is it really that different?

To me the only real advantage of BIM is relieving other trades of their responsibilities and placing them on the model we create.

Some local engineering firms in my area have started offering themselves out to do the detailing themselves. They made the BIM model and they do the detailing. And yes they get paid for both.

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

Yes I would charge as a last resort, but I would do everything I could to not sell it. Yes, they can make their take offs immediately and everything like that, but what are you modeling? I would assume only main beams, girders, joists, columns, and foundations. You likely aren't modeling all the miscellaneous members, rebar, etc. Most likely you are using many "detail components" in your details. All of these things will not be able to be pulled from the BIM model's take off tools. Then who is on the hook when these aren't in the fabricators bid? Ideally the Contractor is, but they used yourmodel...

Are you getting enough fee to actually model all these supplemental members? What about modeling all the rebar? There are so many things that are typically NOT modeled in the name of making the project fit in budgets and time frames.

If you are getting enough fee to actually model everything, please share some secrets!

In the CAD world, every company I have worked for has had a General Note that says something to the effect of "shops shall be original drawings prepared by the contractor or fabricator. Reproductions of the structural drawings for use as shops is not permitted and will be rejected without being checked". In the BIM world, all projects I have worked with have been simply submitted as drawings like you would get with CAD.

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

If you sell it would they look at you for liability if things are wrong or change?

Here it is, use it at your own risk. We are not detailers and it might not be to exact tolerances, etc

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

There is a BIM Experts forum on LinkedIn.
AFAIK, the subject has not come up there for discussion.
... but it should, before they all get too lathered up about how wonderful BIM is,
... or will be, someday.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Charging for the BIM file...

What do the bid documents say? If there is a cost saving - that should get handed to the owner Right? WTH is BIM good for if it doesn't reduce costs to the Owner.

If you turn around and charge for plans the Owner has already paid for and the fabricator is now pocketing a reduction in costs you are seriously in conflict of interest. Sound like a Kickback, No? Ethics discussion anyone?

Ideally, the Contract amount from the detailer/fabricator will be less to the owner. This should be reflected from the Bid documents where the you will state BIM files are available. Then, fabricators who can use them will have lower bids and shorter lead times and those who don't won't. The project wins on all counts and you get more future business because of all the horn blowing you are going to do afterwards about how much money and time you saved the client.


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