"My, what wonderful big 'I's you have BIM!"

With a number of clients tasking me with finding Quantity Surveyors with experience in BIM, I have been pondering how it can work for Quantity Surveyors. Causeway Technologies is one software company that keeps coming up, so I approached Tim Cook, Causeway’s Global Sales Manager, who was more than happy to be our first guest blogger!

“My, what wonderful big ‘i’s you have BIM!”

It may seem like a ‘fairy tale’ – the fact that with a single click you can create a fully measured and costed cost plan direct from an IFC model. But why are so many afraid of the ‘Big Bad BIM’?
As a quantity surveyor, BIM will categorically simplify your day to day tasks and ultimately save you time. The endless ‘window counts’ and ‘brickwork measures’ are achievable in seconds with BIM.

This leads on nicely to the first of the ‘I’s that BIM has. ‘I’ is by far the most important letter of the acronym. Information. The BIM model is not just a ‘rendered 3D model’ although it may appear this way. Do not be fooled here by “Hollywood BIM”, this indeed is where the drawing file is just a rendered 3D CAD file. “Hollywood BIM” to Room 101 please! A BIM model contains masses of ‘information’. The model can hold highly detailed specifications against the elements within the modelled asset and such data can be schedules and made available for use in costing documents. Doubters will state that the information in an early design stage model is not concise enough for measurement. Personally I believe that even with the use of ‘generic BIM objects’ (objects plugged into the model if the ‘proprietary BIM object’ – or ‘as built’ object is not available) there is still sufficient data to be able to measure and price. The generic BIM object will be positioned correctly, spatially correct (the correct size) and therefore can be measured or counted. The experienced QS will then apply logic to add a rate (based on that particular Client’s historic material usage or indeed straight out of Spons!)

Another ‘I’ is the IFC. The Industry Foundation Class file format. This (according to our friend Wiki) is a platform neutral, open file format specification that is not controlled by a single vendor or group of vendors. It is an object-based file format with a data model developed by buildingSMART (formerly the International Alliance for Interoperability, IAI) to facilitate interoperability in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. Essentially, this means that the IFC is the ‘generic’ file exchange format for BIM (or should be). For example, a model produced in Autodesk’s Revit can be exported as an IFC file for use in Causeway’s BIMMeasure module designed for integrated quantity take off.

The third ‘I’ is interoperability, achievable by use of the IFC. By achieving interoperability, all construction disciplines will be able to use data seamlessly across the whole supply chain. This is no fairy tale – this is reality. So why still are so many quantity surveyors afraid of the three eyed (or indeed I’d) monster? I am not sure. As previously stated – BIM will not only make the QS more efficient in their day job – saving many hours of labour intensive pen pushing – but it will also give them the competitive edge and the ability to participate in more projects. Maybe a more grown up approach to BIM is required?

The grown up approach statement was intentional to allow me to round off with a seamless segue into how my own children are embracing both basic construction techniques and augmented reality with the likes of Minecraft and Pokémon Go. Minecraft allowing creativeness in design whilst introducing clash detection at an early age! Whilst Pokémon Go offering the vision into augmented reality used widely in current construction processes (particularly utilities and infrastructure). The kids embrace this technology which can only be a positive for the future of construction. Can we learn from this?

Tim Cook
Global Sales Manager
Causeway Technologies

So, these are the thoughts of Tim Cook at Causeway Technologies and we would love to hear your comments. You may have different feelings about the value of BIM for a Quantity Surveyor or you may be using it right now and can give us your experienced view. Either way, I would love to hear your thoughts via our LinkedIn page.

About me:

I am the founding Director of HD Surveyors Ltd, specialising in bespoke job searches for Quantity Surveyors and Building Surveyors across London and the South East. Please get in touch if you are considering a job move in the future. Whether it is advice on current market trends, guidance in the job search process or just a chat about your options, I would love to help.