BIM contract requirements

BIM requirements in Norway – part 1 – Statens vegvesen

Have you ever wondered what are the official requirements for the use of BIM technology in projects in countries where it is on the most advanced level? Could the company that you work in fulfill those demands?

In our earlier article, “9 reasons why Norway is THE BEST in BIM!” you can read that the first reason for the high level for use of BIM in this country, we listed the BIM requirements set by the authorities. But how does this work in practice? How ‘high’ are these requirements and are they the same on all projects?

As we well know, each project is unique. There are smaller, larger and mega-large projects 🙂 such as the planned E39 bridge crossings on the west coast of Norway (read more about this “largest infrastructure project in Norway” here). Likewise, investors differ in terms of BIM experience, funds, and needs.

To narrow down this broad topic, we will make some assumptions in our new article series BIM REQUIREMENTS IN NORWAY:

  • We will focus on public investors.
  • We will present an investor’s overall approach to model-based projects.
  • We will show the requirements for the use of BIM technology on selected projects only.
  • The selected projects are not necessarily representative and do not show the full BIM strategy of the organization. It happens that on one project the investor requires the use of BIM technology at a high level, and on another, it is not required to the same extent.
  • The degree of use of BIM on many projects is not known, because often neither the investor nor the contractor shares this information. This series can therefore also be a place for discussion and exchange of experiences and good practices in the industry. It is worth knowing what works in practice and what can be improved.

We will present the following public investors throughout the series:

  1. Statens vegvesen – (abbreviated as SVV, the Norwegian equivalent of the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways) – this entry.
  2. Nye Veier – the organization responsible for overseeing the construction of long highway sections, usually in a design and build system.
  3. BaneNOR – Norwegian railway lines, the equivalent of Network Rail or Deutsche Bahn.
  4. Statsbygg – Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property.
  5. Equinor – earlier Statoil – i.e. the Norwegian state-owned energy company.
  6. Kommuner – or voivodeships/administrative states – responsible e.g. for schools and public buildings.
  7. Local health service departments that control the construction of hospitals.

Some of the documents and pages we link to are only in Norwegian, but still, if someone is interested, they can be easily translated using e.g. Google Translate:-)

In this post, we start with Statens vegvesen. We invite you to read it!

Table of content

1. Statens vegvesen

1.1. General strategy

Statens vegvesen (in short SVV) is the Norwegian equivalent of the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways. In 2018 SVV issued the document “Plan and strategy of the General Directorate as an investor“. There are several points in it about carrying out model-based projects:

  • SVV wants to be a leader in using new technologies to plan and execute model-based projects and in overall digitization.
  • SVV aims to be an active participant in setting trends and practices of working with standards for model-based projects, both nationally and internationally.
  • SVV is to take responsibility for scoping and establishing a common industry standard for model-based projects.

Planned “largest infrastructure project in Norway”, video from the official website of Statens vegvesen on YouTube: LINK.

1.2. Handbook V770 and R700

Already in 2010, SVV started work on the V770 handbook (link to the Norwegian website) regarding the output data in the model.

SVV intends to combine the V770 document with another existing handbook called ‘R700 Tegningsgrunnlag’ which currently describes the drawing requirements. The change seems natural – the drawing requirements will be adjusted to the model-based design methodology as well as to the evolving technology and market.

When a new revision is introduced, it will be required to use the methods described in it. In practice, this means that 3D modeling along with the control of the output data in the model will be the norm in all future road projects.

Statens vegvesen itself briefly summarizes the method on which the document V770 Modellgrunnlag is based in four points:

  1. Base your planning and design work on data of proven quality. Check the input (see our previous article about the input) and its accuracy.
  2. Describe the existing situation in 3D before starting any early conception, planning or design process. Create 3D models that include existing terrain, protected areas, structures, infrastructure, etc.
  3. Build the road twice – first in the virtual model and then in reality.
  4. Use model data to streamline planning, design, and construction. It can be an analysis of the noise level, flood risk, as well as the use of the model during the integrated design process or contact and communication with all project participants.

1.3. BIM and design of bridges and structures in infrastructure

When it comes to designing bridges and structures in infrastructure, there is the N400 handbook, revised in 2015. It allows design based on the model while setting specific requirements, including:

  • Open BIM-formats should be used.
  • The accuracy of the model should be at least as good as the quality shown in traditional drawings.
  • Geodetic data is taken from the 3D model.
  • Several 2D drawings should be made, incl. overview drawing of the structure.

Interestingly, in the latest revision of 2015, there is a requirement for steel bridges, for which workshop drawings of the structure must be generated from a 3D model, and the 3D model itself must be used throughout the whole project cycle: from planning and design to production in the plant, and final assembly on site. In practice, it is, therefore, necessary to create an accurate 3D structure model, which will later be used by many participants of the construction project: designers, investors, contractors, and suppliers. There is no such requirement for concrete or wooden bridges.

1.4. Structure approval process based on the BIM model

More and more demanding requirements to carry out projects based on BIM models, without traditional drawings, also have an impact on checking project documentation. In Norway, this process can be translated into ‘independent control’ or ‘third party control’. The investor in this case engages an independent design office and orders the documentation to be checked, on a given detail level, depending on the complexity and size of the structure.

In just a few years, the inspection and approval process has been adapted to model-based designs that are done ‘without drawings’. At present, the SVV requires only one drawing – an overview drawing of the structure. After that, the entire process can be carried out using models only.

Additionally, we can add that apart from the process of checking and approving the design in SVV, there is a need to ‘produce’ certain drawings on each project. We will need them in the processes to obtain the required permits, e.g. from the Municipal Water and Sewage Company, or to start excavation works. Unfortunately, it turns out that in the ‘no drawings’ project we actually have to make at least a few of them 😉

On their internet site the SVV inspection body, Vegdirektoratet, has produced many useful descriptions and documents. They include:

  • Example of a model-based project plan – such as BEP (BIM Execution Plan): LINK. 
  • Example of a description of a discipline model: LINK.

As for the control process itself, it is worth presenting some of its main assumptions:

  • The model check should be made on the basis of the model itself, without drawings.
  • There are no preferred programs that a designer or reviewer should use for their work, as long as it is possible to exchange information using open formats – in .IFC files (LINK to our article on IFC).
  • The reviewer’s comments and the designer’s response are exchanged directly in the model. Files in the BCF format (BIM Collaboration Format – LINK to our article) are used for this.
  • To keep track of changes, the BCF file is additionally converted to PDF and saved after each comment exchange.
  • PDF and BCF files with appropriate names are saved on the client’s ‘cloud’ platform.

Also, the requirements related to as-built documentation have been adapted to projects where BIM technology is used – drawings or a model can be part of it. If several models were used during the project, they should be joined together so that there is only one model in the as-built documentation.

2. Examples of projects and the requirements and degree of use of BIM technology

We will divide the requirements and use of BIM technology depending on the type of contract, distinguishing the three most popular: in the traditional system, design and build, and Public-Private Partnerships.

2.1. Traditional system - general contractor

In this system, it is the investor who selects the participants of the construction process (designers, general contractor, and other persons) and independently conducts most of the construction process or its entirety. It is characterized by the fact that the selection of the contractor is made after the design work is completed. The general contractor is expected simply to build what has been designed.

In this system, the client has more control over the design process and can place higher demands on designers, for example regarding the use of BIM technology. So far, in most cases, the design itself was based on models, but 2D drawings were produced for construction purposes. Often there are up to several hundred drawings that are part of the contract and that the main contractor should use for construction. Unfortunately, in this case, even having a well-made model from a designer with a lot of information, the investor, while ordering the production and use of drawings, almost completely limits the construction process based on the BIM methodology.

Over time, some projects began to take a hybrid form – drawings and models appeared in the documentation. One of them is the construction of Tanabru, described in the example below.

Example - Tana bridge (nor. Tanabru)

BIM Corner Tanabru
Tana bridge in Norway, picture from: www.samferdselinfra.no/

Project name: E6 Tana bru

Investor: Statens vegvesen Region North

Construction period: 01.2017 – 09.2020.

Tender formula: General contractor responsible for the construction.

One of the first projects where the requirement to create a 3D model of a steel structure was put into practice is the Tana Bridge on the national road E6 in northern Norway. The construction of this 260 meter-long bridge began in January 2017. The structure is made of a steel box section and a steel pylon. The ballast box and foundations are made of concrete. Initially, only the steel elements were modeled, and standard drawings were created for concrete structures. However, after winning the tender, which was carried out in the ‘build’ formula, the contractor asked the client to provide 3D models of concrete structures, including reinforcement and all the details and information needed for the construction. SVV agreed to this and, as a result, noticed that there were fewer design changes and mistakes made during the execution of the works.

2.2. Design and build

The “design and build” system has made its way into the Norwegian construction market for good. It gives contractors control over the design process and its result – that is, they can request standard drawings or full BIM models with the degree of accuracy they need. It is a very important topic, because the contractor, being in a relatively new position responsible for “everything” and taking on the design process, sometimes … does not know what he wants or how much (and why so expensive?) it costs.

The assumptions are as follows: the client makes general requirements, for example, that the design is to be carried out using models (so-called model-based) and presents a preliminary design. The contractor establishes contact with a design company that he chooses himself, prepares its offer, and then presents it to the investor. The descriptive part of the tender includes a technical description as well as a plan for using the BIM methodology on the project.

It is worth mentioning here that in Norway, in addition to the price itself, when selecting offers, other criteria are also taken into account, which often constitute 20-40% of the total criteria, depending on the size of the tender. These are, among others: organization plan, health and safety, plan for execution of works, or just a technical description, which includes BIM. An example of the “design and build” formula where the BIM is to a higher exrend than in other contracts is the E16 Eggemoen – Olum project, described below.

Example - E16 Eggemoen-Olum project

Randselva bridge, visualization: Sweco Norge www.sweco.no

Project name: E16 Eggemoen-Olum

Investor: Statens vegvesen Region East

Duration of construction: 02.2019 ->

Tender formula: Design and build.

This is an interesting project, as the main contractor made a decision himself early in the tender that it would be made entirely on the basis of the BIM model, without using drawings. Thus, the main contractor set himself much higher requirements than those set by the client.

It is true that the investor in the tender documentation demanded that everything had to be designed and built in accordance with the requirements set out in the documents V770 Modellgrunnlag and R700 Tegningsgrunnlag (see the point above regarding V770 and R700) and that the contractor should provide the ‘BIM instruction’. However, those requirements could be met by making a general 3D model of the project with the main elements and creating all the documentation needed for execution in a paper form.

The main part of the project is the 634 meters long Randselva Bridge. One of the results of the fact that the main contractor decided to carry out the project based entirely on the BIM model is winning the prestigious competition ‘Tekla Global BIM Awards’ in two categories: Best BIM Project and Best Infrastructure Project. You can read more about the award and the project here.

2.3. PPP type contracts

Statens vegvesen also has PPP contracts in its portfolio, which means Public-Private Partnership. It is a form of cooperation between the public and private sectors regarding the execution of public projects.

One of the recently completed PPP contracts is the national road Rv 3/25 Løten – Elverum, which was put into use 3 months before the originally planned opening. The contractor, Skanska, built 27 km of road in 26 months, which was set as a ‘time record’ in Norway while reducing the final price by 20% compared to initial assumptions (article in Norwegian here).  The main contractor was tasked with designing, financing, building, and maintaining and managing the road for 20 years.

Project rv. 555 Sotrasambandet

Project rv. 555 Sotrasambandet – picture from site from Statens vegvesen: www.vegvesen.no.

But let’s pay attention to the PPP contracts that are currently in the bidding or preparation phase, and what interests us – how the BIM requirements are described. One of the most discussed PPP projects in recent years is rv. 555 Sotrasambandet in Bergen, with an estimated price of more than EUR 1 billion, or approximately NOK 10 billion. The tender documents set out specific requirements for BIM technology, including but not limited to:

  • Requirements for a person holding the position of BIM manager: at least 5 years of relevant experience from working on projects of the same type, scope, or degree of difficulty.
  • All stages of the project implementation are to be based on models at the “BIM Level 3” or higher level (you can read about BIM Level 3 in our previous article here).
  • The process of carrying out the project is to be based on Lean and VDC principles (Virtual design and construction – about VDC you can read here).
  • The main contractor is tasked with creating a common “source of information and collaboration” for all project participants.
  • Appropriate “BIM instructions” should be made, and they should describe the quality assurance procedures, performance requirements, use and update of the model-based processes.
  • Requirements for models and drawings: the entire design process is to be carried out on the basis of models, at “BIM Level 3”.
  • All objects must have a specific MMI level (MMI stands for Model Maturity Index, sometimes used as an alternative to LoD – Level of Development – you can read about MMI in this article).
  • The general contractor is to generate drawings directly from the BIM model as much as possible.

As we can see, the bar is set really high. It remains to hope that the main contractors, designers, suppliers, software producers, and all other participants in the construction process, including the investor, will be able to meet the set requirements. And gain the necessary experience to go even one step further on the next project!

3. Summary.

What are the real requirements for BIM technology in Norway? In this article, we started with a description of the situation on contracts carried out by Statens vegvesen, the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways in this country. As we can see, the answer to this question is not simple – each project is unique – with different assumptions, differing in terms of complexity, size, location, and type of contract. The general trend in Statens vegvesen, however, is visible – this organization intends to develop both itself and the market and is making increasingly higher demands, as exemplified by the requirement to use “BIM Level 3” on Sotrasambandet.

Did you have the opportunity to work on the project with Statens vegvesen as the client?

What is your experience with the requirements and the degree of use of BIM technology on the contract – in Norway or in your own country?

What are, in your opinion, the biggest challenges associated with setting too high (or low) requirements for using BIM in a project?

We invite you to comment below the article!

This article is the first part of the "BIM Requirements in Norway" series. In case this is the first article you came across, I encourage you to read the next ones. We will write in them about the BIM requirements set by other public investors in Norway. Enjoy reading!

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