Design Software Formats and the AIA E202

Get the file format that you really want or need on a BIM project!

The AIA® Document E202™ is a contract document that dictates how the Building Information Model is developed for a project.  The document itself is design software package neutral, but is typically developed around specific software packages desired by the document author.  Document authors will sometimes complete the document thinking that they are specifying the desired software package, but in reality are providing “wiggle room” for other packages to also be provided.

(For purposes of discussion in this article, I will be referencing section numbers in the default AIA® Document E202™ since the document author may add or remove sections from the document.  I will also be illustrating a project in which Autodesk Revit is the desired BIM software.)

The primary section of the document that addresses this issue is 2.3.2 File Format(s), which states “Models shall be delivered in the following format(s) as appropriate to the use of the Model“.  This section will specify any file formats that are acceptable for the project, and typically will mention file formats that may be utilized on any specific portion of the project.  Since other software packages are better utilized for other aspects of the project, such as Autodesk Civil 3D for the sitework, those packages need to be listed if they are acceptable.  Besides the desired Revit file format, other file formats may include AutoCAD files that would be used for aspects of the project that the document author deems not necessary to be in the Revit file format.  It may also include file formats such as IFC for files developed in other software packages that do not communicate with Revit, but then exported to IFC format.

Each of the desired file formats should also specify the actual software release that is desired.  Revit software is NOT backward compatible, so if you desire the file format to be in Revit 2011 file format, you need to specify the 2011 format.  If you are still using Revit 2011 after 2012 has been released, you may receive 2012 files if you have not specified the 2011 format and you will not be able to open the 2012 project files in your 2011 release.  Since files developed in either Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, or Revit MEP are all compatible among the same release version (such as 2011), that should not be a problem or need to be specified.

Section 2.3.2 also includes listing the desired file format for the various uses of the model.  These uses might include file linking into the Revit project file, Navisworks NWC files for clash detection, or maybe DWF files for owner review.  It is important to document any of the required file formats and Model uses that you anticipate in order to avoid as much confusion as possibleHowever, this section is where the document author may accidently allow file formats to be submitted that are really not desired for the purpose.  If the document author simply specifies that both Revit 2011 and AutoCAD 2010 file formats are utilized, they may inadvertedly be allowing  AutoCAD files to be submitted for any part of the model.  If you do not restrict the usage of the AutoCAD files to specific purposes or situations, someone may submit AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Architecture, or AutoCAD files for part of the model that you intended to be Revit data.

If you desire to have all model information be submitted in Revit format except for specific or isolated situations, then you need to specify that and not be general.  You also need to specify that the model is developed with native Revit entities and that data imported from other packages are not acceptable.  If you want AutoCAD files to only be submitted for site work, then note that exception.  If kitchen or laundry equipment may be submitted as AutoCAD files, then note that exception.  An option is to have Section 2.3.1 Model Standard get a subsection added that states that all model information is to be in Revit 2011 format unless written permission is granted by the document author on a case by case basis.

In summary, when preparing the AIA® Document E202™, use detailed information to make it as flexible or restrictive as you desire.  Make sure that you get exactly what you desire.

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