Contractual practices between the consultant and employer in Chinese BIM-enabled construction projects

Xiaofeng Liao (School of Architecture and Engineering, Chongqing University of Science and Technology, Chongqing, China)
Cen Ying Lee (University of Reading Malaysia, Iskandar Puteri, Malaysia)
Heap-Yih Chong (Curtin University, Bentley, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Publication date: 22 July 2019



The management of building information modeling (BIM)-enabled construction projects is challenging and unstructured in nature, particularly in terms of contract administration. Even though previous studies have revealed various legal issues related to BIM, little is known regarding the contractual practices of BIM. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to explore the contractual practices between the BIM consultant and employer in detail.


An explanatory case study was carried out on four large BIM-enabled construction projects in China.


The contractual practices differed from one project to another in terms of ownership and intellectual property rights (IPRs) of the BIM model, roles of the BIM consultant, liability of the BIM consultant in the event of errors and delays of the BIM model, and BIM-related costs and payments. Some of the interesting findings are as follows: the employer shall retain the ownership and IPRs of the BIM model, the BIM consultant shall provide a warranty to ensure usability of the BIM model after project handover, the BIM consultant shall pay for damages or losses if the BIM model fails to deliver and the costs of BIM implementation shall be borne by both contracting parties.


This study provides a fresh, realistic insight on the development of plausible contractual practices between the BIM consultant and employer and the findings can be used to improve BIM contract protocols in future projects.



Liao, X., Lee, C.Y. and Chong, H.-Y. (2019), "Contractual practices between the consultant and employer in Chinese BIM-enabled construction projects", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 227-244.



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