“As the construction world has made use of digital tools, a drastic change can be seen in the way projects are handled. It has brought in a lot of difference in how estimation is carried out and how cost plans are made. The use of estimating software, alone, has been able to shorten the time allocated to each estimate with a positive impact on accuracy,” says Hirav Shah
Astro Strategist™ cum Business Astrologer™ Hirav Shah who has been working closely with many of the leading Real Estate giants of India and USA as a Real Estate Strategist, Real Estate Investment Advisor, and has been actively involved in providing concrete predictions through Real Estate Astrology and Property Astrology.
“In the past, 2D drawings were used by estimators but now there has been a move to 3D modeling. The shift to 3D modeling from 2D has been quite beneficial for engineers. It helps them find out the number of materials required really fast and with more accuracy for chalking out cost estimates.”
What is BIM?
Hirav Shah explains that one step ahead of 3D modeling is BIM or Building Information Modeling. With BIM, more data is added to the project data with the help of attributes. Every model component can have information like the type of material, the cost involved, the performance, and the like. It is because of these attributes that there is a difference between BIM and 3D modeling.
Role of BIM in Making Estimating Easy
1) Improvement in cost forecasting
BIM helps designers and contractors in utilizing the information made available to them to have better control over the cost. BIM models that have cost data allow the collection of historic cost information that was not possible with the old school 2D drawings. As the historic cost of each and every component is available, the cost forecasting can be done in a much better manner.
2) Generation of automated lists
BIM can generate automated lists. It makes quantifying materials a simple task as the component attributes provide the needed information. When there is cost information present as well, it will help in obtaining an accurate estimate. Whether the prices are fed to the BIM package or there are links to the cost estimating software, where the costs are stored, It is critical that the costs are continually accurate for the estimate to be correct.
3) Faster evaluation of design options
BIM helps in making the analysis of various design options faster and simpler. There are tools in the software that help with finding out the cost of each and every option way faster than the conventional methods. This way, the option which is the most cost-effective can be chosen.
4) More information provides cost benefits
While it is important to get every software output checked, a BIM model with the right information makes the process of cost estimating simpler and accurate.
What is Digital Takeoff?
Before moving to what a digital takeoff means, it is important to understand the meaning of the term ‘takeoff’ in the construction world. A takeoff gives the estimator a breakdown of what all will be needed to complete a project. It is the capability to take the quantities of items and measurements off a drawing or plan.
The term has also been mutated to address the items and their quantities as the compilation of the items with their quantities which you might see as the basis of an estimate have been called a takeoff. This is particularly true in remodeling and handyman situations where no physical plans exist.
Where physical plans exist there are two kinds of takeoffs namely: manual and digital.
It is clear that manual takeoffs are very time-consuming and can have errors in them. That is why there is a need for digital takeoff.
Now, a digital takeoff refers to a takeoff completed using the software. The digitized plan is shown in the software on the computer screen and, using the software, distances are measured and quantities are counted. In most cases, the output of this process goes to cost estimating software where the actual quoting, along with other processing is done. The items selected are matched with their prices and compiled into an estimate.
Role of Digital Takeoff in Making Estimating Easy
1) Increases speed
With digital takeoffs, quantities can be measured more quickly when compared to manual takeoffs.
There is a software to rely upon and therefore the cost manager can make an estimate in a very short span of time. This certainly helps with better decision making. In fact, a lot of time in the pre-construction stage will be saved and can be put to better use elsewhere. It is possible to bring down the time required for developing cost plans from 2-3 weeks to just 2-3 days with digital takeoffs in many cases. At the same time, it is important to ensure that the design information fed to the software is correct. If there is a mistake there, the output will not be accurate.
2) Improves the accuracy
With a digital takeoff, the chances of errors are minimal. There is more certainty and as a result, it improves the outcome as far as an estimation of a construction project is concerned. However, what is fed to the software has to be correct for the output to be accurate.
3) Adds value to the role of estimators and cost managers
Digital takeoff helps in enabling the cost manager, estimator, and QS to do their job faster and lets them add value to the project teams in different ways. The use of the software does not endanger their job roles, it only makes them use the saved time elsewhere in the project. For example, instead of fetching data manually, the focus can be shifted towards looking at the data and use professional expertise to add value to the project. In fact, it is like a new role emerging for the estimator.
4) Increases profit
There is an increase in speed, accuracy, and efficiency with the use of software and that is where digital takeoff wins. The construction company can therefore get more work done with the existing team members. This will obviously increase the turnover and profit of the firm which is one valid reason to go digital.
Hirav Shah concludes the discussion by saying, “BIM has made cost forecasting quicker and more accurate. There is the automated generation of lists and therefore a faster analysis of different design options that has cost benefits as well. Talking about digital takeoffs, they are less tedious to make and less time consuming when compared to the old school method. The use of software has brought in a lot of positive changes that have made estimation an easier task. Being able to save time can help a construction business to take up more projects and as a result, earn more.”
“The bottom line is that automation, using construction estimating software, of conventional methods is bound to deliver great results be it the construction field or some other one. When there is a profitable outcome, the chance shouldn’t be missed at any cost.“