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The Practice Management Knowledge Community (PMKC) identifies and develops information on the business of architecture for use by the profession to maintain and improve the quality of the professional and business environment.  The PMKC initiates programs, provides content and serves as a resource to other knowledge communities, and acts as experts on AIA Institute programs and policies that pertain to a wide variety of business practices and trends.

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Authorization to use BIM Models

  • 1.  Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 01-27-2013 23:26
    This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Technical Design for Building Performance Knowledge Community and Practice Management Member Conversations .
    As we move forward with more BIM projects we are anticipating requests from clients, particularly those with in-house construction or facilities management capabilities, for the release of the model. Is anyone aware of a recommended BIM (Revit) file/model release form or suggested contract clauses to limit how the model may be used?

    Laura Rachlin AIA
    Quadrangle Architects Limited
    Toronto ON

  • 2.  RE:Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 01-28-2013 15:49
    Below is a response provided by our Contract Documents Team.  Please contact the Contract Documents help desk for more information at 1.800.942.7732 or

    In 2007 and 2008 the AIA Contract Documents program released a set of Digital Practice documents, including the E202-2008, Building Information Modeling Protocol Exhibit. Synopses of the Digital Practice documents can be found at Because this area of industry practice is evolving so quickly, the AIA Contract Documents program undertook an evaluation and update of this series of documents in 2011-2012. As part of that process, AIA Contract Documents prepared updated forms and a detailed Guide to discuss and address many of the issues associated with the use of BIM, including the issues associated with shared Models. DRAFTS of those updated documents and the Guide were released for public comment in the fall of 2012. Input gained from the comments received are being used to refine and finalize the documents. The finalized documents and Guide will be released later this year. In the interim if you would like to review the draft documents, they can be found at


    ~Susan Parrish~
    Susan Parrish
    AIA Knowledge
    Washington DC

  • 3.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 02-16-2018 10:56
    Regardless of various electronic releases, how are firms approaching this issue in 2018? Are we (especially the smaller and medium sized architectural firms) reluctant to release the Revit or BIM model? Especially to traditional public DBB contractors who may then use it rather than provide their own coordination drawings and modles? Or are most firms just letting it go with a traditional release as coverage for potential issues? AIA might have some suggested release language, but do individual firms have an opinion?

    R. Fair AIA
    LLB Architects

  • 4.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 02-19-2018 17:29
    Interesting question.  As a rule, the firm I work at is in ArchiCAD but we only send out Site Plans, Demo Plans, Floor Plans, and RCP's in CAD format to client when requested.  We may send individual other drawings in CAD format on a case by case basis addressing a specific request.  To be honest, we send out vector PDF's so it would be very easy for an unscrupulous architect to explode the PDF into auto cad.

    Right now we don't have any consultants that want to work in BIM (maybe its the ArchiCAD to Revit transition is too much hassle?).  We do a lot of renovations and TI's for smaller clients so we have not been requested to provide BIM files to client.  I don't think our office would automatically veto such an arrangement as long as we were properly compensated.

    I'm definitely curious how other people handle it.


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  • 5.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 02-20-2018 10:50
    Our small firm works exclusively in BIM (Revit) and we are always discussing how to leverge the model for the benefit of all the project participants.  For us, the greatest variable is the ability of the other participants (usually the contractor) to work with the model data. Early involvement of a knowledgeable contractor can be helpful in costing, constructability and alternative approaches.  Even if the contractor is not a user of BIM, we will tutor them on the types of information available from a modeled project.  The more use, the better the project is our finding.

    Regarding the reliance and use of model data, the AIA digital documents are a big help in framing expectations of the parties.  I encourage anyone considering model sharing at any level to become familiar with the documents.  Samples can be viewed and downloaded at  In very brief terms, the more sharing and reliance is anticipated, the more discussion and written rules are needed.  The Exhibit defining electronic usage on a project, E203-2013,  allows for a simple indication that BIM is (1) not being used, (2) being used internally with no reliance by others or (3) use and reliance is anticipated and the rules are described in a companion document, G202-2013. If the model is shared and used without the G202 it is agreed that such use is at the risk of the user.

    The matrix that is at the heart of the G202 allows the parties to agree on how much (or little) reliance can be attributed to each portion of the model at each stage of development.  In its blank form the matrix can be intimidating for the first time.  Each subsequent use becomes easier as firms develop familiarity.  After all, most use do not write each specification section from scratch on every project. As an example, the State of Utah developed their own version of G202 for use on their projects incorporating BIM.

    Invest time in reading the guide and look for the right opportunity to try it in your own practice.  The feedback I have received is that it is a bit of a heavy lift at first but the effort is worth it on the ensuing projects. Sound like the learning curve for CAD and BIM, doesn't it?

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a past member of the AIA Documents Committee and worked on the development of these products. I would like to see greater use and awareness for the benefit of our profession and the construction industry.

    Forrest Lott FAIA
    Lott & Barber Architects
    Savannah GA

  • 6.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 02-22-2018 11:43
    Here is my thought process on the data release agreement. I decided when I started my practice 13 years ago I was not going to continue with this practice. This is why. It takes a minimum of 1/2 hour to create and coordinate getting a signed agreement back before sending out the CAD file. So to date, if we sent out 3 a week at $110/hr billing rate over 13 years, we have lost $111,540 in billable time. That is a lot of inefficiency and loss based on an unknown fear.

    We state in the email when sending; this is for convenience and we can't confirm the accuracy of the drawings.

    I personally have not heard of a lawsuit based on a cad file since I have been practicing.

    Alyssia Makarewicz AIA
    AMB Architects
    Houston TX

  • 7.  RE:Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 01-28-2013 15:58
    while i am sure you will most certainly get a number of varied responses, the best suggestion might be to strategize how your firm might be able to leverage the (facility) model to extend your work with the client - your BIM becomes FIM/M (Facility Information Model/Management). is there a way that your office can become a facility management partner and, rather than turning over the model, still maintain control and provide the client's facility department(s) with the information they need?


    kurt thompson ' aia
    saint louis ' missouri

  • 8.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 02-20-2018 17:43
    I am unaware of any architecture firms (or engineering sub-consultants, for that matter) who will issue digital copies of their documents without obtaining a Release Form. That said, there are a variety of forms, most prepared by or under the guidance of the firm's legal counsel, that are in use.  As far as I know, there is no nationally promulgated release form, whether by the AIA or the American Bar Association of the E&O insurance industry. Perhaps ironically, the one industry most well-positioned (and most in need) to develop an industry-standard form is the E&O insurance industry, simply because it is their insureds who will create the greatest E&O risk by using inappropriate or ineffectual language in a Release Form. This is due to the possibility of digital data corruption by downstream users, thereby making it virtually impossible to accurately determine which legally-bound entity actually authored post-publication digital alterations.  Basically, this is but a continuation of the persistent issue of Version Control that has plagued the A/E/C industry since the advent of digital data and the invention of the floppy disk and the thumb drive.

    My recommendation is to consult with your legal counsel and E&O carrier to discover if either or both of them have Release language they prefer that you use.  After all, they will be in the middle of any potential liability lawsuit arising from the use of corrupted or altered data.

    Phil Scott AIA
    GSC Architects
    Austin TX

  • 9.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 02-21-2018 16:10
    Building Information Models present a dramatically different set of circumstances than did CADD or hand drafted deliverables.  Even at its most robust, CADD carried very little, if any, information beyond the two-dimensional line work that ultimately was printed in the drawings.  With BIM we have the ability to embed all kinds of intelligence beyond the geometry of the thing being drawn.  Pre-BIM, when a constructor asked for a CADD file to, for example, facilitate the creation of the shop drawings, it was important to establish that the use of that digital information had a limited use that did not supersede the Contract Documents.  Most practitioners did so by virtue of a release form that disallowed any reliance on the digital data.

    The promise of BIM is that the digital data contained in the model has beneficial uses beyond the limited information that is ultimately conveyed in a set of drawings (Some believe that the model itself may ultimately become the deliverable, a very complicated debate for another day).  In theory, all of the participants in the project - the Owner, the Constructor and the Architect - can benefit from the use of that information, but no one can benefit from that data if they are not allowed to rely upon it.  So unlike the old CADD "use at your own risk" philosophy, in order to gain the greatest benefits from the use of BIM there have to be a set of use and reliance rules that all of the project participants agree to abide by.

     In 2013, the AIA Contract Documents Committee, of which I am a member, released a comprehensive update to the Digital Practice Documents specifically addressing the use of BIM.  The documents relevant to this discussion are the E203-2013 Building Information Modeling and Digital Data Exhibit, and its partner the G202-2013 Project BIM protocol Form.  Used in conjunction, these documents allow you and the other project participants to agree on the use and reliance characteristics of your model ranging from "it's my model and you can't have it" to a shared access model residing, live in real-time, on the cloud, and everything in between.  The 2017 updates to all of the AIA's major contract forms include E203-2013 as the default to establish BIM and Digital Data protocols.

    A detailed discussion of these issues is contained in the Guide, Instructions and Commentary to the 2013 AIA Digital Practice Documents, available for download here:

    I was a part of committee that worked with the State of Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management to establish a BIM baseline for the state's projects.  Utah generally uses one of two delivery models for their projects - a Value Based Selection that is a variant of Design-Bid-Build, and Construction Manager at Risk.  In both scenarios the State expects that the design team will share its models with the constructors.  You can view the files here there are four):

    Kevin Miller AIA
    GSBS Architects
    Salt Lake City UT

  • 10.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 09-24-2018 15:23
    If your firm releases the model to a Contractor, ​Is anyone charging the Contractor for the model or are you just having them sign a release form?

    Paul Bedford AIA
    Keystone Associates Architects, Engineers & Surveyors, LLC
    Binghamton NY

  • 11.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 09-25-2018 17:31

    We don't charge the contractor, since in theory it's in the interest of a successful project outcome for our client to share the file for coordination purposes.  They do sign a lengthy release.



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  • 12.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 09-25-2018 17:34

    It California most of the public contracts require us to release the files (for schools and other publicly funded projects). For private work, the contractor should help defray the cost associated with producing the model.


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  • 13.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 09-25-2018 17:38
    Q: If your firm releases the model to a Contractor, ​Is anyone charging the Contractor for the model or are you just having them sign a release form?

    A: From a liability standpoint, we prefer that the GC construct their own REVIT model, particularly since they use it for different purposes [take-offs + estimating; design-build/MEP coordination; clash detection, etc].  If we were to share a REVIT model with the GC or their D-B subs, we would not charge for it, but we would just require a release / indemnification.   

    Blaine Weber AIA
    Weber + Thompson PLLC
    Seattle WA

  • 14.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 09-26-2018 19:02

    Rather than focusing on the reactionary component of this conversation it is important to be proactive in the definition of what a BIM can be relied upon for and how it is allowed to be utilized throughout the lifecycle continuum of a project. Being up front and transparent at the beginning of the project while keeping the end in mind is an ideal approach where we can all take advantage of the AIA E203, G201 and G202 contract documents ( to manage risk and set the proper expectations.

    Brian Skripac Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C
    Vice President, Director of Virtual Design & Construction
    Pittsburgh PA

  • 15.  RE: Authorization to use BIM Models

    Posted 09-28-2018 13:45
    Mr. Skripac got it mostly right.  The AIA Contract Documents Committee, of which I am a member, has developed robust tools to help practitioners manage the expectations and risks of digital practice in general, and Building Information Modeling in specific.  In addition to the E203/G201/G202 that Brian pointed out, I would highly recommend that you download one other document:  the Guide, Instructions and Commentary to the 2013 AIA Digital Practice Documents.  It addresses all the questions that have been asked in this thread and explains the various strategies you can employ to add value for your client and protect your risk.

    You can find the Guide at:

    Kevin Miller AIA
    GSBS Architects
    Salt Lake City UT