Money Matters

Three reasons why contractors are adopting BIM for estimating

Estimators in today’s fast-paced, small-margin world have their work cut out for them. Buildings are much more complex, while expectations are higher than ever to quickly deliver the best cost-saving strategies.

As a result, estimating teams are turning to new technology to help them address these challenges. One such technology is 5D model-based cost estimating (also referred to as 5D BIM).

5D BIM defined

5D BIM connects objects in the 3-D model to items and assemblies in an estimating database. Whenever a change is made to the model, the estimated costs can be easily—if not automatically—updated. This allows the building team to quickly see the cost implications of design decisions.

Model-based estimating can be used:

  • Early in the preconstruction phase to provide conceptual estimates from parametric models.
  • For preconstruction estimates derived from detailed models.
  • During the operations phase of a building for renovation and remodeling estimates.

Estimating benefits of BIM

Once used exclusively by design firms, building information modeling (BIM) is being adopted by a growing number of contractors and the construction management divisions of AEC firms. In fact, 32% of contractors expect to increase their use of BIM in 2016, according to a recent survey conducted by the AGC of America and Sage. One reason construction teams are adopting BIM is the many benefits it provides from an estimating standpoint, including:

Visualization. 3-D building information models give estimators a more realistic visual and, most important, information-rich representation of a project to check quantities and validate costs. The model also helps estimators better understand the complexity of a project and identify areas of potential risk.

Faster takeoff, more analysis. BIM tools integrated with estimating software can speed up the estimating process in many ways.  For instance, each BIM construction object can contain the dimensional information the estimator needs, thus eliminating a time-consuming aspect of takeoff. This allows the estimating team to spend more time on value engineering and constructability reviews.

Collaboration. The BIM process, enhanced by desktop, mobile, and cloud-enhanced tools, is fostering an era of greater collaboration than ever before. By connecting to BIM tools, estimators can provide reliable cost feedback early on to the design team and customers. This results in greater cost predictability for the project as a whole and minimizes later changes in project scope due to cost overruns.

If you are already using 5D BIM you also know that there are still challenges in its use for production estimating (more on that in my next post). Still, many estimating groups are pushing ahead to leverage BIM in any way they can.  They realize the importance of being part of the building team conversation from the start in order to deliver timely, high-quality projects in the most cost efficient manner.

If you are interested in integrating your estimating with BIM, contact us at [email protected]