IPD and Design Documentation

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) brings with it a whole shift in the concept of project management and delivery, including the way documentation is handled in the team process and building process. Everything from programming the budget to the blue prints is handled differently. Building information modeling (BIM) helps make the IPD process extremely collaborative. This level of cooperative design makes the project more of a team process, giving everyone involved an established sense of ownership over each aspect of the project - all built on greater team knowledge.  This occurs over the course of several projects and builds trust based on relationships.

A precise description of the boundaries of the team process for the project needs to be outlined in the proposal, contracts, and all early documentation - when desisions regarding building functionality, LEED certification, and sustainability are addressed. At Rhodes Architecture we've found that a matrix or a flow chart can be extremely useful in defining, in a clear and simple way, the ownership parameters, and the protocols for contribution and analysis. 

This is another benefit of long-term working relationships between designers and contractors, since an established relationship helps smooth out the early stages of the documentation. Much of the groundwork is already laid. Documentation also needs to outline the deliverables and milestones for each phase of the project. Everyone should have a clear understanding of their role in reaching those milestones and goals.

BIM is a tool to capture the synergy of IPD.  BIM is complex, and can create more problems than it solves if there isn't a clear understanding of who will handle the model, versus who contributes to the model. Autodesk Revit has some internal built in processes that make this happen seamlessly.  This goes together with a need to define the goals and uses for BIM, including how information is exchanged and disseminated throughout the building process.  It’s not necessary that the entire IPD team use BIM.  It is however imperative to the team process that there is a clear understanding of its use on the project and how information will be exchanged.

The design team begins by defining the level of modeling based on programming, and BIM is excellent in terms of the latitude it allows us in this area. The early part of the team process is to define the size, location, details, materials and building parameters.  The accuracy of the model can all be accurately represented on a number of levels. Documentation can be as general or as precise as possible. This will be determined by the IPD team.  Modeling everything is not cost effective; however coordination during the building process becomes more traditional for collision avoidance. Schematic level detailing in BIM has the highest pay back during design documentation. Schematic views for certain members of the project team can also be generated automatically.  The design budget and construction budget will dictate the BIM detail level to some degree.

Using IPD carries with it the promise of better leveraging individual expertise in a team process, bringing value-based decision making for each member of the team to meet the budget. This is because the IPD team process brings everyone to the table on reaching the same milestones and outcomes, uniting the incentives of each professional in the building process.
This level of cooperation doesn't happen by accident, however. Documentation plays an essential role in coordination. BIM provides improved design documents with reduced unknowns and fewer collisions or frustrating inefficiencies. It also makes good use of the estimating tools at the disposal of contractors much earlier in the team process, which goes a long way in reaching targets in the budget that both owners and builders can agree on. BIM also can make takeoffs (quantity of materials) completely automated, which reduces the cost and workload considerably. 

Flexibility is another major advantage in the documentation produced with the assistance of BIM. Design analysis can be much more thorough and multi-dimensional. Changes can be captured for improved record drawings, making closeout documentation as accurate as possible.

Team validation is the method we use in evaluating budget assumptions. This is in place of traditional value engineering to monitor continued efficiency. This has changed the design phase of our projects considerably, making the building process an integral part of the design process. Doing this, we can identify the means and methods we're planning on using early on, and these can be incorporated into the design, reducing revisions, and improving efficiency generally. The whole team validation process is documented using BIM in a collaborative way. The responsibility for documentation is shared by different components of the team. This is best achieved when the performance criteria of documentation is established early. Sustainability goals for the project are addressed and the costs of those green measures are verified by the whole team. 

IPD doesn't erase distinctions between builders and designers, but the relationship is somewhat more complex. Building models are still driven by the architect and the engineers, but mechanical and electrical professionals contribute to the design process. This contribution makes for a more refined design for interstitial space, mechanical space, and other supporting spaces. You can see how, given how involved this process can be that all stakeholders and decision makers are present at meetings for maximum efficiency in project delivery.

If you have any questions, or if you’d like more information, please contact us today. We can be reached by phone at 206.465.2021, or you can submit to the right and we’ll get right back to you.

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