COBie Quality Control, Part 3: The (lack of) Contract

 Bill East
 Lean Handover Production and Consulting

Every month I get calls from contractors asking what to do with a new job that requires “COBie” but provides few details. Clearly these contractor's are stuck. They have to do something, but the client didn't really tell them anything. What do I tell them? After the, “I am not a lawyer.” disclaimer, I offer the following three options:

Option 1. Give Them Anything.

Consider what happens when a contract requires paint of specific color without specifying the products performance requirements. As long as there is some kind of painting work done, the client has to accept the result. Basic project engineering lawyer-ing 101, right?

If a client does not take the time to provide objective quality standards, then the client doesn’t understand what they are asking and/or doesn't care about what is delivered. Any deliverable meetings a nebulous requirement must be accepted. It is makes no difference if the deliverable is physical or electronic.

A minimum acceptable COBie file is one that passes the checks identified in the COBie standard (and built into the COBie Plugin for bimServer and the COBie QC Reporter). Without an additional, contractually-binding COBie quality spec, expect crap data in a fancy box.

Option 2. Have a Conversation.

Let us say that you are the kind of contractor who has long-term clients. If that is the case, then you may want to ask the client what they mean by "COBie." Since they won't know the answer to that, I suggest asking the following three questions:

1. What assets does the client manage? The client should look at what they actually maintain over time. Requiring "everything" contradicts the COBie Standard, and may be grounds for a claim.

2. What asset information does the client need? Contracts already require equipment manufacturer, model, and serial numbers. If client’s asks for information not listed somewhere else in the contract, there may be grounds for a claim.

3. How does the client’s computer systems organize that information? Larger clients have enterprise information technology systems to manage their assets across multiple locations. If the client’s do not have standard classification systems, then use whatever is local for your region. For US OmniClass is the default in NBIMS-US V3.

Option 3. Carpe Diem

Seeing COBie in contracts today could be the tip of the iceberg or simply a passing fad. My vote is on the iceberg. Contractor's choosing Option 1 are taking the "fad"option.

If you think, as I do, that having well structured information available during construction can decrease construction cost and increase quality, then I recommend seizing the COBie day.

Do this by finding where COBie data is currently collected within your building information modeling and contract administration standard operating procedures. No standard operating procedures? Get some. Use these SOP's to capture COBie data as it is created. Then, when you need to deliver COBie, all you have to do is File > Save As.

Is there a good spec?

Even with a well-designed, functional Code or Standard and a detailed Commentary, useful COBie data will not be delivered until there is a solid contract requirement. If you are a client, and don’t want to leave it up to the contractor to deliver whatever they think, stay tuned. I’ll cover that in my next installment of COBie Quality Control.

Published June 2016