Essentials of Spreading the BIM Gospel amongst Quantity Surveyors
Over the past two decades, the construction industry has seen several advancements in design, construction management, and project estimation tools; especially a transition to 3D design modeling in CAD. Quantity surveyors benefited the most, from a large pool of professionals in the industry who reaped the benefits of this transition. They relied on 2D drawings for countless years to plan and estimate the order quantity and corresponding costs, but now have the opportunity to ease their work with 3D modeling.
Quantity surveyors have been long using 2D drawings and manual means to measure the dimensions for accurate planning and order quantity. But the advent of 3D has replaced paper systems and manual means with software inputting and excels spreadsheets.
However, even 3D modeling has failed big time in serving the surveyors and planner in an accurate manner for planning and estimation. It happened because design engineers and architects supply the models with notes and disclaimers that say, “NOT to be used for measurement qualities.”
Broken association of client and design professionals with surveyors
When design professionals ship BIM models to other teams with such disclaimers, it only proves the fact that neither of the design teams, nor the surveyor’s fraternity has adopted BIM process in its real essence. Neither design professionals, nor the clients ever directly engage with the quantity surveyors as a part of BIM process.
The real BIM process of a collaborated effort is missing for surveyors. When 3D models are supplied to them, ideally they should be inter-operable with the cost estimation software which can directly prepare costs and BOQs for order quantities. And also, in a way quantity surveyors are working well with 3D models and excel spreadsheets in silos as it has been a practice for them for years.
However, when the clients or stakeholders suggest design changes, the surveyors have to go through the entire process from scratch. Even 3D CAD geometry and MS Office suite takes an immense amount of time investment which results in delays of the entire project.
BIM-as built model is a very efficient alternative to achieve accurate estimation with external software like Cost X or Autodesk Quantity Takeoff or any other for that matter. But somehow surveyors have remained adamant in adopting BIM.
Redefining surveyor centric 3D BIM modeling
Currently, all the focus of 3D BIM model is on design communication and among-st all that, the intent of developing data-rich models for all aspects is blurring. As stated earlier, design engineers pass on the models to surveyors with several disclaimers for whatsoever reasons but that needs to change in order to include quantity surveyor into the BIM process.
There should be a regular and communication between the surveyors and design consultants so that the design intent and cost planning can be parallel with each other. Also, when the quantity surveyors are on board from the inception of BIM process, they can have essentially have included the data to models. It will not only let the quantity surveyors have an access to data-rich models but also create Federated BIM models and can leverage the object geometry and content for appropriate estimation.
Benefits of BIM process to surveyors
Ideally, every nation has its own way and strategies to implement BIM. But UK and Singapore are leading the way where BIM is mandatory. Secondly, technologically advanced nations like the USA are amending their BIM policies to make BIM a mainstream platform for construction.
However, the nations of both these categories see an obstruction in unlocking BIM process completely to the QS. Getting them on board of BIM process from conceptualization needs a mind shift that is attained by having a glance at the benefits.
The ability of BIM platform to speed up the traditional estimating process by automating the measurements is the key to capture QS’s attention towards BIM. The effectiveness and accuracy of quantity surveying related functions can be significantly improved with BIM by aligning cost estimation and construction management planning in accordance with BIM processes.
BIM facilitates such accuracy by a real-time update in Federated BIM models that are caused by variations in design details. According to RICS, the accuracy in estimating solutions for surveyors is because of the ability to link external entities and simultaneously updating the design changes to get the cost information. Such updates allow the project team to use BIM more effectively and agree upon a particular set of requirements from the viewpoint of estimation and not just design aesthetics or spatial arrangement.
BIM, thus, facilitates lifecycle cost management collaboration with the native design models and ensure consistency across the project. Capturing cost data from the designs and supporting procurement for the construction projects throughout the tenure – from design to demolition – of the buildings can be done through BIM. Simultaneously, it will also give certainty to business owners and contractors to stick to the planned budgets and reduction in wastage resulting in overhead costs in the long run.