Switzerland: Digitalization Of The Construction Industry With BIM

Last Updated: 28 February 2018
Article by Samuel Klaus and Mirjam Schneider

Digitalization will not spare the construction industry. With BIM (Building Information Modeling), digital work processes will find their way into planning and construction as well as real estate and facility management. BIM has many advantages - but brings new challenges which must be addressed in contractual provisions.



BIM (Building Information Modeling) stands for the idea of creating a building first in a virtual model – and only then in reality. With BIM, a digital (virtual) 3D-model is created, comprising information relevant for the construction and the building itself. This digital information is then available for the entire lifecycle of a building - from planning, construction and facility management to deconstruction.


The core of a BIM project is the digital building model. The planners' (architect, civil engineer, plumbing engineer, etc.) work is incorporated into this model. Instead of a large number of paper plans, a virtual 3D-model is created. In addition to the 3D-visualization, this model contains all construction-relevant additional information (such as e.g. materialization and costs). The information can be centrally managed and used for various applications (such as cost calculation, construction planning, facility management, etc.).

There are two possible approaches. Firstly, it is possible for the project participants to work on the same model, if they are all using the same software (so-called closed BIM). This is usually the case when a total or general contractor uses BIM for internal coordination. Secondly – and this is the more frequent approach – the participants use their own software, which is tailored to their specialist area (so-called open BIM). In this case, all specialists create their own specific models (e. g. electrical, static, ventilation, etc.), which are then regularly combined into a coordination model.


BIM requires a specific IT infrastructure and corresponding processes. The use of BIM in a construction project sets high requirements for the contractual, technical, organizational and planning processes.

In order to be able to cope with these requirements, new functions have emerged: The BIM manager takes care of the technical and organizational handling of the BIM project (securing the technical infrastructure, the data exchange, the related technical processes, etc.). The BIM coordinator, on the other hand, is responsible for construction-related issues (coordination of the individual models and assuring the overall planning quality). The task of BIM coordinator is usually assigned to the architect.



BIM promises to increase efficiency by facilitating the continuous flow of information. Depending on the implementation model, all parties involved can access the data and use it in their respective areas. For example, the specialized engineer can build his design on a reference model provided by the architect and has thus only to supplement it with his specific contributions. Similarly, the executing contractor can feed the data into his construction machines in order to have them carry out automated work, or prefabricate certain building components based on the data at hand.

The data of the BIM model can be used throughout the entire lifecycle of a building (i.e. also for management, subsequent conversions, deconstruction, etc.). Since around 80% of the costs of a building are incurred during the operating phase, there is a great savings potential which can be realized with BIM.


In the virtual model, planning mistakes can be detected earlier and thus avoided more easily and cost-effectively. Mistakes during the execution of the construction can also be better controlled. An as-built model, created by laserassisted measurement of the actual physical structure (once built) can be used to check whether the built structure corresponds to the planned model.

In addition, planning and execution mistakes are easier to prove and to allocate. The virtual model and its digital history can be used to determine precisely when the mistake happened, where it occurred and who was responsible. However, this requires that the responsibilities, in particular any potential specific control obligations, have been accurately assigned in the contract (see section 3).

It is also worth noting that, with the virtual building model, the employer can gain a better understanding of its future building already in advance. This way, any misunderstandings or misaligned expectations can be cleared up already at an early stage.


The planner can use the BIM information to create the bill of quantities and perform software-based checks to determine whether all components for the planned building are included in the required quantity (e.g., correct number of rivets for the support beams). This means more reliable bills of quantities and more accurate cost estimates already at the time of planning. This can help to avoid (or at least to better manage) change orders and the resulting additional costs.

With BIM, the construction process and the logistics can be simulated and planned in detail in the virtual model already in the planning phase. This means that delivery dates can be determined earlier and queues, delay costs and friction losses can be reduced. This leads to a reduction of disruptions in the construction process and to more reliable planning.


If the contracts have been drafted carefully, in particular regarding the allocation and scope of the tasks and responsibilities of the project participants, as well as of the appropriate fee arrangement (see section 3.3), BIM has the potential to reduce disputes. The fact that mistakes and defects can be detected or avoided earlier, that costs can be estimated more accurately and that the processes can be planned more reliably can help to prevent disputes between the project participants. This benefits all players in the construction industry, since construction disputes are usually complex, costly and time-consuming.


BIM does not fundamentally change the rights and obligations of those involved in the project. However, new challenges arise. Since corresponding standards and norms are still in the development stage, a BIM project will currently have to be regulated by appropriate specific contractual provisions.


The new challenges raised by BIM are:

  • In Switzerland, BIM is still in the development phase and the implementation effort is therefore high. Not all players already have full BIM competence and capacity. The employer will have to define much earlier and more precisely which data it wants to receive from the planners, and for what purpose. The precise definition of the services expected from the involved parties and the allocation of risks and responsibilities can be demanding.
  • BIM requires closer cooperation between all project participants. This places additional requirements on the organization and implementation of a BIM project. Planners will have to provide new services (e. g. datarelated work steps). Finally, on the project timeline, the planners' tasks and services are shifted to earlier project phases, which must be reflected in the remuneration mechanism.
  • BIM leads to more transparency in the construction project. The planning and work stages of each project participant are easier to trace in the digital model. If defects or mistakes are detected later, they can be attributed more easily to a party. This makes it easier to prove defects and provide evidence regarding mistakes made.


The existing norms and standards (such as SIA 102 / 118) do not yet reflect BIM. However, standardization efforts in connection with BIM are underway, especially from SIA (Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects), KBOB (Coordination Group of the Public Employers), CRB (Swiss Center for Construction Rationalization) and Building Digital Switzerland (abroad, some corresponding standards already exist, at least in part). However, there is currently no firmly established practice on how to apply these standards.


In order to address BIM-specific aspects, appropriate specific contract provisions are required in the following areas:

  • BIM as a working method is not yet standard. The parties involved in the project must therefore be required to use BIM. It is also necessary to define what exactly is to be understood by "BIM" in the project at hand – and what exactly the employer wants to see implemented. This includes specifications regarding the BIM work products to be delivered, in particular which models are to be supplied for which purposes (e.g. energy analysis, construction, facility management, etc.), in which data format and in what level of detail.
  • In principle, in a BIM project (like in a traditional project), each party involved is only liable for "its own domain". However, with BIM there is much less certainty as to which services fall within whose domain. Therefore, the BIM services to be performed and the BIM-specific roles must be defined and accurately assigned to the individual project participants. Only then can the responsibilities and liabilities of the involved parties be allocated properly.
  • When defining the remuneration mechanism, it should be taken into account that in a BIM project, additional BIM-specific services must be provided. In addition, the workload of the planners is shifted to earlier project phases compared to traditional projects.
  • Information technology aspects (e.g. regarding software, licenses, data storage and data control, data exchange and data formats) as well as questions regarding intellectual property rights and licensing must be addressed: Potential copyrights must be addressed in such a way that the use cases of the BIM project (e.g., facility management) can be achieved .


The individual contracts of the project participants have to be coordinated with respect to BIM in order to ensure a smooth project execution. BIM-specific general contract terms ("BIM-GCT") can be used to address the legal aspects of BIM, by making them an integral part of every contract with all parties involved (architect, planner, construction company, etc.). A BIM project execution plan ("BEP") addresses the project management, organization and execution, terminology and milestones of the BIM project. BIM-GCT and BEP together define the basic BIM principles for all parties involved.


BIM is an important step in the construction industry's (digital) future. The potential efficiency gain is considerable, especially for an employer managing its own buildings, because the data created with BIM can be used throughout the entire lifecycle of the building. A successful implementation of a BIM project requires an appropriate organization and a project coordination focused on BIM. The increasing importance and potential of BIM is also reflected in the fact that, increasingly, public tenders prescribe BIM.

BIM requires a lot from planners, entrepreneurs and employers alike. Accordingly, all project participants must be required to comply with the project-specific BIM specifications. This presupposes that the contractual provisions are tailored to BIM and that the specific features of a BIM project are adequately addressed. The BIMspecific provisions must be aligned with the objectives of the employer and the competences and capacities of the project participants.

When implementing a BIM project, it is advisable to involve technical and construction specialists at the earliest stage possible and to ensure that the contractual provisions are properly drafted.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions