In an industry of rapidly developing advancements in technologies used in design, construction, maintenance and the life cycle of facilities the need for well-defined documents addressing issues of qualifications, specifications, accuracy and uniform proposal responses is critical.  On Jan. 7, 2015, the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD) published its introductory set of Building Documentation Standards/Specifications.

USIBD’s documents are designed to advance and foster excellence while increasing productivity. These documents were created for the purpose of becoming the industry standards in Building Documentation, and have been developed specifically by and for professionals working in the industry. They were established to promote a more businesslike and ethical playing field in support of the growing number of professionals dedicated to the building profession.

So why is this so important?  To answer this question we must first take a look at the building documentation industry and how it functions.  Currently there are no licensure requirements for one to perform building documentation services within the U.S. and there are likely no plans to make this a licensed profession.  As such, anyone can offer building documentation services.

The result is a mix of highly experienced professionals competing for the same projects as inexperienced individuals who are just entering the field.  Add in the rapid advancement of easy-to-use push button technologies that allow for rapid data capture of complex existing conditions, owners who don’t understand how all this works and you have a recipe for trouble. The USIBD recognized this and through the publication of these documents its goal is to help provide tools that will protect those seeking building documentation services as well as service providers. These initial documents are:

The RFQ template – This template is designed to help owners qualify their service providers to ensure they have qualified individuals/firms bidding on their jobs. 

The RFP template - This template is designed to provide service providers with the information they need in order to return “apples-to-apples” bids.  Many owners are not knowledgeable enough about building documentation and the technologies being utilized by service providers to write a proper RFP.  Using this template will ensure all the most important elements of the RFP are included and communicated in a way that is meaningful to the bidders.  This reduces the bidder’s risk, by presenting the project requirements more clearly.  Reducing the bidders risk means they will be more competitive and less likely to add unnecessary contingency for unknowns.  Ultimately the owner should see tighter bid spreads and lower fees.

The 3D Imaging Specification – The imaging specification utilizes the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) widely accepted PageFormat ensuring architects and other design professionals will have a tool for specifying 3D Imaging services in a format they are already familiar with.  This spec is comprehensive, flexible and can easily be incorporated into the RFP template.  It covers items not included in the RFP template, so when 3D Imaging services are needed, this specification provides the author a very structured method of communicating what is required.  This reduces risk for all stakeholders and provides a tool for accountability of the deliverables.

The Level of Accuracy (LOA) Specification – Our LOA spec incorporates other recognized standards such as the DIN 18710 and CSI’s UniFormat 2010.   The LOA is completely independent of the method of measurement allowing the service provider the freedom to select whichever instrument and method they determine in their own professional judgment to be appropriate to achieve the specified LOA.  

This LOA spec works for 2D and 3D deliverables and allows the author to specify accuracy in a very general or a very specific way making it ideal for both small and large projects alike.  One of the most unique elements of the LOA framework is that it allows for measured accuracy to be specified separate from represented accuracy.  This can be very important when, for example, processing a registered point cloud into a modeled deliverable. 

While these four documents won’t solve all of the problems faced by building documentation stakeholders, they certainly will help clarify intent and reduce risk for all interested parties.  This is only the beginning. The USIBD has plans to publish additional documents in 2015. This may include historic preservation specifications, bid scoring guides and much more. If you would like to be a part of this progressive organization, please visit our website and become a member today!

If you are interested in obtaining a copy these documents they are available to download free of charge on the USIBD website (www.usibd.org) until March 15th.