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What’s the BIM role for main contractors and sub-contractors?

Are you a contractor or sub-contractor working for clients in a BIM environment? Read on to find out if you’re fulfilling all aspects of your BIM role. The results might surprise you!

BIM terminology

The majority of your BIM responsibilities as a contractor or sub-contractor are set out in PAS1192 or BS EN ISO 19650. The old terminology that referred to employer, supplier, sub-contractor, etc. has now been superseded. Instead, we have firstly an Appointing Party – previously called ’employer’ – which holds the overall BIM responsibilities for the project. Secondly, we find that the term ‘supplier’ has been replaced with ‘Lead Appointed Party’. This would be your BIM role if you are appointed as Principal Contractor on any project. Thirdly, the new term ‘Appointed Party’ is used instead of ‘sub-contractor.’ If you are a sub-contractor, this would be your BIM role.

The duties associated with your role will vary according to the different project stages. Let’s have a look at these phases and what the BIM role entails for contractors and sub-contractors – or rather Lead Appointed Party and Appointed Parties.


As a contractor or sub-contractor there is little for you to do at this stage. It’s up to the Appointing Party – your client – to get all the BIM information and project brief together. Some of their responsibilities at this stage include:

  • Appoint individuals to undertake Information Management functions
  • Establish Project’s Information Requirements
  • Prepare Project’s Information Standards — including suitability codes, naming conventions and Level of Information Need
  • Define Project’s Information Delivery Milestones
  • Select Project’s Common Data Environment
  • Develop Appointing Party’s Exchange Information Requirements
  • Issue tenders

Invitation to tender

Once the tender is issued, your BIM role as a contractor or sub-contractor will start to materialise. At this point you will have to demonstrate to your client that you are familiar and competent with the various BIM requirements that they are expecting from you. In summary, your responsibilities during this stage include:

  • Nominate individuals to undertake the Information Management functions. As a contractor or Lead Appointed Party you will have to nominate a Project Information Manager and maybe other people to form the Information Management Team. If you are a sub-contractor or Appointed Party you will need to nominate a Task Information Manager, as a minimum.
  • Prepare Pre-appointment BIM Execution Plan — also referred to as Pre-Contract BEP. The contents of this document are listed within ISO 19650-2 Clause 5.3.2 and you can also find more details in our previous post about the BIM Execution Plan.
  • Assess the delivery team’s and task team’s capability and capacity to deliver the project. You have to ask yourself: ‘Can they do it?’ and ‘Do they have the resources?’
  • Establish Delivery Team’s mobilisation plan. You will have to procure, test and develop all tools, systems, processes and upskilling required, such as acquiring specific IT software or hardware and recruiting specialist resources.
  • Create and develop Delivery Team’s Risk Register, which forms part of the Pre-appointment BEP.
  • Compile and submit the tender response to the Appointing Party.

Appointment of contractors and sub-contractors

Once the client has appointed you as Principal Contractor or sub-contractor, you will have to undertake the following tasks:

  • Confirm Delivery Team’s BEP.
  • Establish detailed responsibility matrix, including the Levels of Information Need.
  • Prepare Lead Appointed Parties’ Exchange Information Requirements.
  • Create the Master Information Delivery Plan if you are the Principal Contractor, or a Task Information Delivery Plan if you are a sub-contractor. The minimum requirements of these plans include:
    • Name and title of each deliverable
    • Predecessors and dependencies
    • Level of Information Need
    • Duration
    • Author
    • Delivery milestones
  • Sign the contract


After the contract is signed, your BIM role as a contractor or sub-contractor moves to the mobilisation stage. Here you’ll need to look at three main aspects:

  • People: ensure resources are available and capable.
  • IT: implement software as per BEP and test CDE and exchanges of information between all parties.
  • Processes: test and document workflows and develop shared resources.

Your BIM role during the collaborative production

During this stage you will begin the production of information, including models and metadata. Your BIM role will entail the following tasks:

  • Check availability of shared resources.
  • Generate information — do the work!
  • Undertake quality assurance checks. If you are a sub-contractor, you need to check your own work for compliance against the BEP and relevant Standards. If you are a Principal Contractor, you will have to check not only your own work but also the work carried out by your Appointed Parties.
  • Review information and approve for sharing. At this stage is very important that the information you share contains the relevant suitability codes for coordination by other task teams.
  • Information model review. This is the last verification process during the collaborative production. It is very important to ensure that each deliverable is complete and has the right purpose in the project.

Information model delivery

Once the work is done by each sub-contractor, it will go up the ladder until it reaches the client. The main stages will be as follow:

  • If you are a sub-contractor, you submit your information model to the Principal Contractor.
  • If you are a Principal Contractor, you review and authorise the information model. You will also put together the federated model from all the information models delivered by all sub-contractors and other Appointed Parties. At this stage, you need to carry out engineering checks and Inter-Disciplinary Checks, including clash detection and coordination. Depending on the result of these checks, you may give feedback to the sub-contractors to incorporate changes in the models. Otherwise, you may submit the federated model to the client for final review and approval. As you can imagine, this is generally an iterative process until everybody is happy with the federated model and the level of information contained within.

We hope you’ve found these insights useful. Perhaps you’re a contractor/sub-contractor looking for a BIM consultant to help you deliver on a project – do get in touch to find out how we can help.

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