BIM for Conceptual Estimating

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http://www.beck-technology.com - After working with some of the best estimating talent in the country over the past three years, deploying Building Information Modeling (BIM), I’d like to share some lessons learned in using BIM for conceptual estimating. Successfully using BIM for conceptual estimating requires the same investment as most new technologies: you’ve got to plan and commit both time and money. One of the more unique aspects of BIM is that it is a crossover technology – it was originally created for one purpose and now we’re developing alternate ways to leverage it. BIM has the potential to be a highly disruptive technology, changing the way we plan and build by improving speed, quality and cost.

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BIM for Conceptual Estimating

  1. 1. Deploying BIM for Conceptual Estimating An article published in
  2. 2. Over my career, I’ve come to appreciate the art and science of conceptual estimating. It’s a skill that requires experience, a sound methodology, and plain old hard work to be successful. While I’ve never made my living as an estimator, I have been working with some of the best estimating talent in the country over the past three years, deploying Building Information Modeling (BIM). I’d like to share some lessons learned in using BIM for conceptual estimating. (This is also what’s known as the ‘highlighting the mistakes of others’ for your gain).Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 2
  3. 3. BIM is what you make it. BIM’s not magic, but it can perform a $10,000 disappearing act in your bank account if you just buy a box of software and not a plan. Successfully using BIM for conceptual estimating requires the same investment as most new technologies: you’ve got to plan and commit both time and money. One of the more unique aspects of BIM is that it is a crossover technology – it was originally created for one purpose and now we’re developing alternate ways to leverage it. BIM has the potential to be a highly disruptive technology, changing the way we plan and build by improving speed, quality and cost.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 3
  4. 4. But before we hail this piece of information technology as thepanacea that will revolutionize the entire building industry, we mustapply the estimator’s skills (experience, methodology, and plain oldhard work) to the new set of tools. Investment is required because the real benefits come from process change more than software innovation. Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 4
  5. 5. Bite off too much and you might choke. I’ve seen this happen many times: companies make big plans without devoting enough time or resources to be bring them to life. Start small! I recommend using a free software trial, together with paid product training during the trial period. This approach gives you a chance to audition the software and process to realistically assess its capabilities and limitations before you make any major financial commitments.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 5
  6. 6. Another cautionary note: don’t be overzealous in populating the cost database initially. Your database doesn’t have to be perfect to use on real projects. I recommend creating only what you need at first, on a project-by-project basis. This will help you understand how you’d like the system to perform before you spend a lot of time building it.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 6
  7. 7. Reinventing the wheel doesn’t make you Thomas Edison. You’re not in the software business. Rather than spending your valuable time experimenting with the best way to use the software, leverage your time by learning from other’s experience. The software developer likely knows other firms who have faced the same challenges and have worked through them. The software vendor wants you to be successful - ask them for industry references whom you can speak with prior to and during a deployment.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 7
  8. 8. Additionally, most technology companies also offer professional services to work with you, even one- on-one, to accelerate the learning curve and deployment process. Leave the estimating to the professionals. It takes about a month for a motivated estimator to learn how to use BIM for conceptual estimating. How long does it take to take an architect, who knows BIM tools, to learn how to estimate costs? I don’t mean to sound condescending to my architect friends (and I work with many fine architects on a daily basis), but the fact of the matter is that estimating is generally not their area of expertise or interest.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 8
  9. 9. BIM however, is a crossover technology that benefits both estimating and architectural disciplines. Many general contractors now employ BIM specialists with architecture backgrounds to fill certain roles. These folks are typically gifted technologically and understand the engineering and architectural modeling practices. This understanding can be quite valuable in running project coordination meetings, but in my opinion the estimating strategy must be developed by construction professionals who’ve learned to use the new tools.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 9
  10. 10. The right level of detail for the phase. Conceptual BIMs differ from detailed design BIMs. They are not developed to produce documents or coordinate efforts; they are developed to help the project stakeholders make better informed decisions at the earliest stages of a project. Adding more graphical detail in the model only makes it more difficult to quickly evaluate various what-if scenarios.Conceptual Phase Schematic Phase Design Development Construction Documents Bid Phase Construction Phase BIM for Conceptual Estimating Value Engineering Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 10
  11. 11. Don’t be ashamed to have a very plain 3D cost model that conveys youranalysis as an estimator without the visual eye candy of an architecturalrendering.We’ve all seen the video game stuff; instead focus on the “I” in BIM andyour ability to add value and differentiate. Hunt Oil Headquarters Dallas, Texas Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 11
  12. 12. It takes soldiers and generals to win the war. Are you the sole person at the company tasked with learning to use these software systems? Good luck. You’d better have a lot of free time. Conversely, if you’re the executive hoping to push these tools on your team, the first step to success is involving the “soldiers” in the decision process. If you force tools on staffers, they are more apt to come up with excuses than to find solutions. Successful deployments share buy-in from the users and support from the executive management.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 12
  13. 13. Lather, rinse and repeat. To really understand these tools and integrate them into your work, practice and parallel your current process. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect to walk out of your first two-day training class on the software and directly into a real estimating project. To start, I recommend taking several projects that you have estimated conventionally and rework them through your conceptual BIM estimating process as practice. You should arrive at the same estimate and the experience of figuring out how to do that is invaluable.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 13
  14. 14. Next, estimate using BIM as well as your conventional process on several projects until you feel comfortable with the software and the process. Finally, abandon the old ways entirely and enjoy spending far more time developing Value Engineering ideas and less time quantifying.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 14
  15. 15. Keep the goal in sight. Even though you may be tackling intermediate steps, such as creating “exterior skin” cost models for simplicity, you’re well on your way to the ultimate goal of creating full estimates for the owner. Along the journey, you’ll enjoy the benefit of improved work product with each step.Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 15
  16. 16. About the Author Andy O’Nan After performing engineering, estimating, and business development work in the concrete construction industry, in 2007 Andy ONan joined Beck Technology on their quest to change the building industry. An evangelist of the use of building information modeling (BIM) for preconstruction purposes, Andy has become a frequent speaker to AEC organizations and universities on the topic of BIM. Andy is a graduate of Texas A&M Universitys school of engineering and today manages Beck Technologys global business development efforts. Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 16
  17. 17. Want to learn more about macro BIM?Watch a short video, a webinar or contact Beck Technologytoday. www.beck-technology.com Beck Technology, Ltd. 1-888-835-7778 Macro BIM software for 3D modeling, 4D scheduling, and 5D cost estimating. Make better decisions earlier. 17

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