Different E202 for Each BIM Project

The AIA E202 Document (by the American Institute of Architects) is the Building Information Modeling Protocol Exhibit and assigns the specific responsibility for the various project team members in developing model elements to specific levels of development for project phases.  This is fast becoming an extremely important contract document for a building project and must be carefully considered before being implemented for a project.  Many documents are re-used from project to project with little or no change, but the E202 should be modified per project.

A portion of the contract document outlines the Level of Development (LOD) for model elements and who is responsible for that level.  Various model elements (such as doors, roofs, structural framing, plumbing fixtures, and HVAC equipment) can be modeled to different levels from very basic massing to extremely accurate detailing.  The E202 document defines those levels, which are from LOD 100 to LOD 500 for increasing degrees of detail.  The document also defines who is responsible for developing the various types of model elements to that detail.

Not every project needs the same amount of detail in the model.  The level of detail that is actually required needs to be determined at the very beginning of the project before the E202 and other contract documents have been completed.  Because the E202 specifies how much detail goes into the model at various stages, it directly affects the labor costs that go into creating the model.   Those labor costs need to benefit someone, whether that is the owner, the architect, the contractor, or someone else. 

There needs to be serious conversation between the owner and the project’s primary team members to determine the necessary level of detail and the goals that require that level of detail.  If the owner and/or project team members are not familiar with the E202 document and the impact of it, an unbiased 3rd party should be brought into the process to assist with completing the E202 document.  There are huge financial impacts resulting from the E202 and those impacts need to be realized by all team members before the project starts.

When a building is designed, there is (almost) always a budget that affects the actual design of the building.  That budget is generally determined by what the owner can afford or what the owner deems is an acceptable return on investment (ROI).  That budget affects everything from the project size, to the architectural finishes, to the HVAC system that is utilized.  Many different components are considered during the design process to keep the project within budget, and the amount of detail included in the BIM file is an aspect that must also be considered.

I believe that it is a big mistake when owners, architects, or others re-use E202 documents from previous projects without considering ROI on the level of detail in the document.  While one project may benefit from having a LOD 400 implemented, another project may never need any more than a LOD 200.  Projects with a very short constructed lifespan (such as tenant build-out spaces) may need little or no BIM detail, while projects that will have a 100-year life may need much more BIM detail.

Another aspect to tailoring the E202 for each project is to consider the team members on the project.  Some team members may not be capable of delivering the same level of detail in the BIM file as other team members.  That team member may bring some very valuable experience and/or knowledge to the project, but has not developed the BIM capability that other team members possess.  It may be beneficial to adjust the E202 document to allow that team member to not provide the same level of detail as may be required by other team members.

The E202 document must be a realistic view of what level of detail really needs to exist for each stage of the project and for each discipline represented in the document.  The document should never be used just because it exists or because it was used in that completed version on a previous project.

In summary, while an E202 document may be re-used on multiple projects, it is very important to review the document to make sure that the level of detail is relevant for that project.  It does help to not recreate the E202 for every project, but it must be reviewed for each project.  Reviewing the E202 for each project will aid in protecting all project team members while also aiding in achieving the actual desired level of detail for the Building Information Model.

Feel free to post a comment to this article or contact me at doug@dougbowersconsulting.com if you would like to discuss this issue in further detail.

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