BIM Estimating: Myth vs. Reality

Tags: bim-based estimating, quantity takeoff, construction estimate, bim myths, bim expert, bim manager, construction budget, cost plan, 5D BIM, bim estimating, bim true or false


There are a couple misperceptions in the AEC community about what is and isn’t possible when combining BIM models with the Estimator’s standard workflow.  Take this quick True or False quiz to see if you or your organization has fallen prey to one of the myths.


True or False:   In order to do a BIM-based estimate, every element of the building needs to be modeled.

True or False:   In order to do a BIM-based estimate, the Estimator needs to learn how to model.

True or False:   In a BIM-based estimate, as long as you know what buttons to press, the system will spit out an estimate.

True or False:   Since BIM models are always perfect, there is no need   to check the quantity counts for use in construction calculations.

True or False:   A savvy BIM Manager can replace a Senior Estimator if he or she has the right software.

True or False:   If you haven’t seen BIM mandated in a contract, there’s no need to future-proof your firm.


So, do you think you can tell myth from reality?  Now let me tell you a true story…


In my role here at Trimble, I get to meet with great people who are leading the BIM Initiative at their firm.  Inevitably, these folks are enthusiastic about technology and really like to dig in and thoroughly understand a topic.  This is a delight to me because I can share my “Well, back when I was an estimator, we used to…” stories and mentor these leaders as they work to bring BIM concepts and workflows to their organization.


I had been working with one of my clients.  He wanted me to “look over his shoulder” as he organized a full structural estimate.  What made this unique was that this gentleman was not a regular estimator, but rather the company’s “BIM Expert.”


He had published the models and tied them to his company’s concrete database.  Then he made great use of location-based quantities in the estimate and everything was good.


The actual Estimator on the project had to turn around a price in two days and, wanting to stay focused, preferred to stay in his comfort zone with 2D takeoff.  He was going to need to invest the full forty-eight hours in the estimate, but he knew it would be complete, cover all scope, and feel good about it.


The BIM Expert asked, “Why are you doing that?  I’ve already published the models and tied them to our concrete database.  I would really appreciate your insight, though, as I’ll never have as much estimating expertise and experience as you.”


The Estimator replied that he really didn’t have any spare time with the deadline looming and really needed to concentrate on the task at hand.


The Head of Preconstruction overheard the conversation and asked if the Estimator could spare twenty minutes to investigate the project estimate in Vico Office…and if the BIM Expert could highlight the areas where he really needed some experience.  After all, even he didn’t trust that there was a full takeoff and pricing completed in a couple hours!


The three of them went to a small conference room and projected onto the screen. 


As it turns out, there were some differences between the 2D drawings and the 3D model.  For example, one issue that popped out was $40K of missing formwork for some columns.  The item was miscalculated using the 2D process. The item was missing from the 2D drawings but luckily, it was picked up by 3D takeoff in Vico Office.


Now I know from experience that you will inevitably have ups and downs in your estimate and luckily it often seems to balance out overall.  But unfortunately that is not always the case and obviously you can end up losing money or losing the job if you have overpriced.


Finding $40K of missing formwork might not sound like a big number in the grand scheme of things, but you could buy a lot of virtual construction software with that and eliminate these issues!  There’s your return on investment: ten seats of Vico Office for just the price of identifying one mistake.


As the group was going through the estimate, they identified 3,500 cubic yards of concrete that were overpriced. That’s about $700K and an easy way to lose the project.


These two issues equated to $660K which can be a nice to have depending on the contract type, but a potential killer if you’re in a competitive bid scenario.


Having the highly-visual integrated connection between 3D, takeoff, and estimate is a massive benefit, and I think a stress reliever knowing that when you go into your bid review meeting  you can have the confidence that your base estimate is correct.



Caption: Beyond the three people working on the estimate in the conference room, Owners also appreciate this three-way view of the project: the 3D model, the cost plan, and a color-coded tree structure which indicates the building systems which are within budget, outside of budget, or missing information. With one click, the Estimator can show the Owner the specific piece of the budget in both the 3D model and then explore the line items which make up the cost assembly. No three-ring binders of spreadsheets, no rifling through drawings, no searching for assumptions – just one screen of highly-visual data.


So, which of these myths at the top of this article are true?  And which of these myths are false?  If you’re still not certain, just watch this thirty minute video: BIM for Estimators.


And here’s a plug for my colleagues who have written blogs or produced webinars to dispel these myths:

Blog: Why Trimble Offers 3 Construction Estimating Solutions

Blog: When Estimators Block BIM

Blog: Does BIM Mean Estimators Are out of a Job?

Blog: There Is No Easy Button for Quantity Takeoff

Webinar: An Introduction to Model-Based Estimating

Is There an East/West BIM Divide?

Tags: owner requirement for bim, east west divide, bim adoption rates, 5D BIM, BIM for Construction


From where I sit in Vico’s Miami, Florida office, I see what I will dare to call an East/West divide on BIM adoption across the United States.


From my vantage point, I see the West Coast thriving with new projects - from complex hospitals to new high tech company campuses to transportation hubs to public works projects – and they are all using 5D BIM.  Not only were the projects won by GCs who are highly proficient in Virtual Construction, but they are being planned, executed, and tracked with Vico Office.


However, on the East Coast, I hear a lot of crickets.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some incredible examples of 5D BIM coming through loud and clear at Cranshaw in Massachusetts, at Turner in NYC, and Hoar Construction in Alabama.  But for the most part, the East Coast is woefully lagging the West.


2D 3D 4D 5D 6D BIM at MathWorks

Caption: One particularly compelling project on the East Coast is the new MathWorks campus expansion in Boston being led by Cranshaw Construction.  With Vico's Coordination Resolution service, additional deliverables include 2D installation drawings and a 6D BIM model for facilities management


I’ve been trying to divine some possible reasons, but why do you think there is an East/West divide?


  1. The tightening of seismic requirements in the West created a need for a lot of re-construction and leveraging 5D BIM was found to be the most cost effective way to do it?
  2. California was the first state to realize that gluing together point solutions didn't make much sense; but integrated coordination, scheduling, and estimating with Vico did?
  3. Universities from the western states have won the annual Associated Schools of Construction Management BIM competition for four years in a row using Vico products.  Are there are fewer schools in the East providing construction management programs?
  4. Fewer labor unions to contend with out West versus East?
  5. Because of Silicon Valley’s influence, the West is just more tech savvy than the East?
  6. Contract types are pre-dominantly different in the East with more hard bids and it’s perceived (albeit incorrectly) that BIM cannot be used in a hard bid scenario?
  7. Lots of Design Assist projects in the West with BIM requirements that are not common in the East.
  8. This was a quote written about Steve Jobs “The people who invented the twenty-first century were pot-smoking, sandal-wearing hippies from the West Coast like Steve, because they saw differently...The hierarchical systems of the East Coast, England, Germany, and Japan do not encourage this different thinking.”
  9. The West just likes saving time and money and the Easterners don’t?


I really can’t believe the last one is true, but would really like to understand the reasons why there is a significant delta.  If you have an insight you’d like to share, please comment at the bottom of this blog.


There is change on the horizon, though.  Owners are requesting the use of 5D BIM more and more. This is part of an RFP for a recent huge project in Broward County, Florida.  Just take a moment to read through it and see if your firm can deliver on the all the points…


BIM contract requirements language


It sounds to me like this Owner wants a whole lot of Vico Office!  First, Vico Office allows you to work with all the popular BIM-authoring platforms like Revit, ArchiCAD, Tekla, even SketchUp, CAD-Duct, IFC files, and 3D DWGs.  Next, Vico Office serves up clash detection and coordination.  With the coordinated models, we can establish the location breakdown structures and location systems for individual trades.  This means we can process the quantities by location.  With these quantities by location and productivity rates from our subs (garnered from pull scheduling sessions or their bid packages), we can calculate task durations.  And by simply associating schedule tasks with their line items in the cost plan, we have a fully resource- and cost-loaded schedule even at a very early stage.  Brilliant, huh?


If you want to be poised to satisfy Owner’s conditions like this, please give me a call.  I’ve seen first-hand how companies are winning new business and successfully delivering it.  The early adopters in the West have been reaping the rewards for a long time.


It’s the future, like it or not, and it’s never too late to get involved.  Luckily for GCs and CMs on the East Coast, there are huge benefits to starting BIM for Construction now as adoption is still slow and the early bird catches the worm!


My colleagues have penned some articles on what it takes to get started with BIM. 

Blog: 5 Pieces of Advice for GCs Considering BIM

Blog: Walk the Walk, Don't Talk the Talk

Blog: 5D BIM Versus 50-Yard Line Tickets

Blog: Can You Say Change 24 Times?

Blog: Who Is the International Leader in Virtual Construction?

Quantities by Location Are the Key to Costing, Planning, and Controlling Construction Projects

Tags: AACEI, model-based estimating, International Association for the Advancement of C, quantity surveyors, quantities by location, location-based scheduling, production controller, flowline theory, production control


A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to be able to present the Vico 5D workflow to the members of the AACEI (the International Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering).  The audience was made up of heavy hitters – of course, I can’t mention them, but I’ll give generous hints on a couple of them: one international GC has my surname and one international Owner uses a cute mouse with big ears as part of their branding.


Someone at the meeting, not from the above-mentioned companies, but from a global power manufacturing and installation company called out the fact that I was English and in England we use Quantity Surveyors to count work performed on site and that was not deemed to be required in the US. 


Quantity Surveyors in the UK are either Professional Quantity Surveyors (PQS) or Contractor’s Quantity Surveyors (QS). The PQS works for the client and ensures he pays as little money as possible for as much work as possible and the QS obviously does the reverse for the GC.

Agreeing on value of work performed and cost of extras always being a bone of contention.


It was a strange comment and obviously the point had been missed so I thought I would air my thoughts….


The difference really boils down to Quantities per Location.  When we develop a healthy set of location breakdown structures and location systems for individual trades, we know the exact quantities per location.  Then, when we apply the subs’ productivity rates (achieved during a pull scheduling session or garnered from their bid packages), we can easily calculate the task durations per location for our schedule.


Then using Vico Production Controller we track actual performance per location. This tells us exactly what the production rates are and we can see very visually the delta between planned versus actual. It also forecasts the effect if the production rate remains constant. That doesn’t mean someone has to run around site with tape measure constantly. It can be as simple as, is the work for this trade in location X complete and if so, check the box.


As you can imagine, this kept the discussion lively.  I then introduced flowline theory – one of the basic tenets of our scheduling solutions; namely, that subcontractors can work at optimum productivity rates with optimum safety and craftsmanship if their locations are free of unnecessary materials and other crews.  Furthermore, when subcontractors understand that their work will not be interrupted with stops and starts on the jobsite, they can utilize the correct resources, manpower, and equipment.


Dare I say that we reached the consensus that we would rather get a best price from a sub by making their life easier?  We would rather negotiate their bids based on visualizing the locations and agreeing exactly what their quantities and scope will be.  Then it becomes our responsibility to organize their work locations, avoid starts and stops, and avoid conflicts/congestion with other trades.


We all agreed as a group that simply accepting a lump sum bid and then fighting with claims is not a good workflow.


So what I thought was going to be a discussion of the power of model-based estimating actually turned into a discussion on location-based scheduling!  I quietly removed my Estimator’s chapeau and quickly put on my Planner’s cap…


Let me show you what I basically shared with the audience…



Vico Office Scheduling Solutions are designed to address both sides on the planning equation: not only do we allow you to create an optimized location-based schedule, but we also allow you to manage it on the jobsite.  By allowing the Superintendent to walk the jobsite and record percent of work complete by location, we are recording the actual productivity rates which we can turn around and compare to the planned productivity rates.


In my estimation (pun intended), Vico Office actually eliminates the need for the traditional Quantity Surveying role and the PQS/QS job description changes to suit the new process. Maybe their title will eventually change too as their duties evolve?!


If projects can be costed, planned, and executed in a more effective visual way giving better value to an owner, who is the owner more likely to use to build his or her next project?


What do you think?  How aggressively do you use quantities by location to plan and estimate your projects?  Post your comments below.

Defining Your Specific Levels of Detail in an MPS

Tags: MPS, purpose-built BIM models, model fidelity, MPS 3.0, AIA E202, BIM LOD, model progression specification, BIM for Construction, level of detail



I hope you saw Friday’s with Vico last week where my colleague, Marcel Broekmaat, demonstrated the MPS 3.0.  We received a few more questions after the event so I thought I would try to clarify and answer one here which I think is very important to understand.


Q. As for LOD and MPS - there are opinions that a significant gap exists between LOD 300 and 400, that I agree with. Depending on the part of the world you are in, an intermediate model is required, where not only the geometry but the actual design details of all the systems in the building are fixed. It is not at the level of the fabrication/shop drawings, meaning it is not linked to any specific supplier, provider of the service or the subcontractor, but it is exactly defined. In many regions this level of information is required for the building permit submission.


A. Those “opinions” are exactly the reason why we have evolved the MPS from v1 (which was adopted and became the AIA E202), to v2 which had a rigid pairing of aspects and classes, to v3 which is what we all saw in the webinar along with the introduction of primitives.  As we all know, Design can progress at different rates even for elements which are closely connected. As a simple example you may have agreed on the external wall spec but not on the windows.


Estimating and scheduling also progress at different rates so to have a model which is completely one LOD, while it is possible, is quite unlikely.  We found ourselves having LOD 350, 375, etc., for the gray areas!  


Instead of Vico or the AIA defining what the LODs are, we now have a framework which allows your firm and the project team to define what the LODs mean to you.


You can define one which suits all your projects or adapt them for specific projects. The key is that it suits you and your project teams.


aspects classes and level of detail for MPS


You decide what the Aspects are you need to cater for on a project or as a company standard, Model, Cost, Scheduling, Environmental, etc., and then you define the Classes of each which suit your own working practices.


Then you create a matrix which maps the likely scenarios. So you can have as many LODs as you require. Ours is purely an example of what works for us and we provide project-based workshops to guide our clients through the process of creating their own. Some clients do use the same as ours and others completely change it.


As long as it is clearly defined, everyone knows what the plan is and what they need to produce at any given project stage.  This eliminates nasty surprises and provides the means for a much more parallel preconstruction process as opposed to the traditional linear one.


What other questions do you have about the MPS - we would love to hear them.  Or take a look at our FAQs page for the MPS to learn more.


Here are some additional resources for your team:

Video: Understand the BIM Level of Detail 

Video: What Is a Purpose-Built BIM Model?

Video: Who is Authoring the BIM Model?

Video: The MPS as Sheet Music for an Orchestra

Webinar: Webcor and the MPS

Webinar: Using the Content Plan and MPS

Webinar: Understanding the Model Progression Specification

Webinar: The MPS 3.0

Blog: What Can Be Done to Improve BIM Model Fidelity?



Vico Adds Two Dimensions to the Balfour Beatty - Parsons Brinckerhoff BIM Storm

Tags: bim storm, balfour beatty construction, 4D schedule, 24 hour turnaround, parsons brinckerhoff, 5D estimate, bim storm presentation


What can you do with a BIM in five weeks?  That was the question posed by the organizers of a recent BIM Storm in Washington DC.  The event coincided with the EcoBuild Conference where they had ongoing live collaboration sessions from the show floor.


What can you do with a BIM in 24 hours?  That was the question posed to us by the BIM Storm event sponsors Balfour Beatty Construction and Parsons Brinckerhoff.  The timeline was tight, just as we like it!


In the interest of time, and to appease my wife, I tag teamed the work with my trusted Left Coast colleague, Clive Jordan.  The three hour time difference really worked well and ensured we could finish work without destroying our personal evening plans!


I was an estimator in my previous life and Clive was a scheduler, so this made us shoe-ins to join the BBPB Team.


We received three concept models late Wednesday afternoon.  And by Thursday morning we had a cost plan, schedule and 4D simulation for each concept version, a targeted comparison, and a powerpoint presentation to demonstrate to the BBPB Team.


The timeline went something like this…


Wednesday (Day 1)


5pm Eastern – Published three concept models (from different sources) and automatically created quantity takeoffs.


publish BIM models to Vico Office

Caption: Here are the three concept models published in Vico Office.  Although this exercise used Revit models, Vico Office also works with ArchiCAD, Tekla, SketchUp, CAD-Duct, IFC files, and 3D DWGs.  So no matter where your models are coming from (the design team, the subs, the engineers), you can work with them together in Vico Office.


6pm Eastern - Investigated models, renamed and reallocated some of the TakeOff Items (TOIs) so all three options used the same consistent naming conventions then pulled in element estimating build ups from previous projects. This ensured all 3 models were aligned in terms of nomenclature which would provide more useful comparison data.


interrogating the model quantities

Caption: In the takeoff model 2-way-view we can select TOIs and visualize them in the model with the yellow highlighting. The models had been created by different sources so we used this view to then rename/create new TOIs and reallocate elements, if required.


8pm Eastern – Reviewed the quantity takeoff, looking for any missing quantities in the cost plan  and used integrated multi window views to ensure everything in the model had been picked up in the estimate.  I then investigated some similar historical projects to compare the pricing and make sure it was correct.



Caption: In this three-way-view, we can see that the yellow-highlighted roof slabs on the building are also highlighted in the quantity takeoff, and below in the estimate.  This is a great advantage for estimators pulling all-nighters on the bid – you can very quickly see that all the scope has been accounted for.


9pm Eastern – I sent the project to my colleague, Clive, for his review.  Since he’s an expert scheduler, he was better suited to create the appropriate schedule tasks while I reviewed different budget options in Cost Explorer and started work on the comparison reports.



Caption: Here in Vico Office Cost Explorer, we compared the Cost Plan to the Target Cost for Design Option #2 & #3.  The color-coded tree structure shows us that we are over-budget on the Exterior Enclosure in project #2.


6pm Pacific – Working out of Vico’s new Irvine, California office, Clive was able to map the Tasks to the Cost Plan items and create the Location Breakdown Structure (LBS) to provide quantities per schedule location.



Caption: Here we see the start of the Location Breakdown Structure by first creating boundaries for each floor.  Eventually, we will divide the project into manageable work areas by trade so we will have precise quantities by location for each trade.  When these quantities per location are combined with the Subs’ productivity rates and anticipated manpower, we get the durations.


Back on East Coast Time...



Caption: While Clive was working on the schedule, I started comparing costs for the three models submitted.  With this actionable intelligence, we could make informed decisions about which option met our goals.


8pm Pacific – Clive created the schedule versions and reviewed the resource allocations.



Caption: Here are four quick summarized reports out of Vico Office Schedule Planner.  From top to bottom: the flowline schedule, the gantt chart, the resource histogram, and the cash flow report.


9pm Pacific – Clive reviewed the 4D simulations (created as a by-product from Vico’s integrated process), refined the schedules, and analyzed the versions.



Caption: Here is a screencapture from the 4D simulation.  Simulation is an imprecise industry term, but in Vico parlance, it is the resulting animation of the BIM derived from the quantities per location and sub productivity data.


Thursday (Day 2)


8am Eastern -- Create Powerpoint presentation and present to team.  You can watch the presentation to the Balfour Beatty – Parsons Brinckerhoff Team below.


Caption: Here's our presentation to the Balfour Beatty Construction and Parsons Brinckerhoff teams.  Roll the videotape!


Yes, they were simple concept projects and this was only an “exercise,” but try doing all the steps outlined above, providing real 4D and 5D data in that period of time using traditional means! I’m sure you will agree is not possible.


It was refreshing for Clive and me to “get our hands dirty” taking us back to our construction roots.  The entire exercise reminded us how powerful Vico Office is in the real world!  We really appreciated the invitation from BBPB and love the BIM Storm concept.  Needless to say, the BBPB Team knocked the ball out of the park in DC.  No one had ever seen a complete schedule and estimate pulled together so seamlessly.


If you and your team would like to learn more about Vico Office, we have a structured, 30-day evaluation program.  We help you learn Vico Office through a series of training, exercises, and even homework assignments over the course of thirty days…not 24 hours.  The content covers clash/constructability analysis, quantity takeoff, schedule planning, estimating, and on-site production control.  Let us know if you’re interested – we’d be happy to help you get started.



Why You Need an MPS for Every 5D BIM Project

Tags: conceptual estimate, 5D BIM, model progression specification, content plan, level of detail, 5d models, bim level of detail, model progression

The Model Progression Specification (MPS) is a protocol for bringing information together from all the design disciplines, estimating and scheduling and any other aspects of a project. The whole project team probably works in separate locations and don't normally communicate effectively as a team. The MPS is a completely collaborative effort which helps overcomes these issues. It ensures each team member knows what he needs to produce, at what point and at what level of detail so the whole team can plan accordingly.


The MPS allows all the Project Stakeholders to work more effectively together, meaning the whole project can be designed, coordinated, costed and scheduled in an efficient "teamworking" environment.


We've been creating 5D models for six years now and we've seen all the issues, when we model from 2D outputs, even ones which are allegedly coordinated, we find design problems which could have been avoided.


We also work with models which have come directly from the Architects and/or Engineers and know for a fact they are often inconsistently modeled, use modeling tools which don't provide the correct output for estimating and scheduling, are badly named, etc.  And for sure are not coordinated when they are all merged together.


We've worked with lots of companies and tried using their own estimating and scheduling data to link to the models and know that they don't usually fit together easily for 5D. 


The MPS isn't designed to be one size fits all. It's a protocol which is put together and agreed upon by the whole team at the start of a project. Sure, a standard definition can be used on lots of projects but the idea is that per project it is defined to suit all the players, by the players.

We have learned the hard way that to get the most use out of BIM, the ideal path is for all parties to work together and agree to specification for the whole project progression.

"He who fails to plan is planning to fail" as the saying goes.


Trust me, after creating over 350 3D & 5D BIM projects, in countries all over the world over the last six years, we really do know what the problems are and want to make it a smoother process for all.


Level of Detail (LoD) is a metric that reflects information maturity and richness, not just for the model, but also for the estimate, schedule and any other project aspects required such as L.E.E.D.

Each stakeholder contributes their knowledge to each develop an evolving hone in on the labor resources necessary to install equipment or materials. This way, as more information is known about the project, the estimate and schedule grow more and more precise.




To learn more about the MPS, we invite you to watch these three webinars:

Understanding the Content Plan

Webcor and the Model Progression Specification

Connecting the Conceptual Estimate to the MPS


We also have more MPS resources available, including a whitepaper, and a video tutorial on the BIM level of detail.

Back from the AGC BIM Forum in Dallas

Tags: Schedule Analysis, schedule compression, Model-based quantities, Virtual Design and Construction, agc bim forum, Location-based schedule

The AGC BIM Forum was held last week in Dallas at the Omni Hotel. According to a quick show of hands, about 50% of the attendees were new to BIM and to the BIM Forum.  (These events always remind me that there are a lot of people out there that are just getting introduced to BIM.)  It's always great to meet new people and help them get started on the path to better understanding how BIM can help improve their projects.


The event started with a presentation from Mike LeFevre, Holder Construction. He focused on the fact that Contractors might be slowly getting themselves into the shop drawing business as they build models with higher level of detail. BIM applications allow the contractor to generate floor plan, section and elevation views easily. Therefore, drawings are a simple byproduct of the detailed coordination model.  (Holder Construction and Vico shared last year's Vision Award for best application of BIM.)


Some of the typical use cases listed by Mike were:

Virtual Mock-Up - drawings can be used to communicate details of the façade and help solve complex constructability issues

In-Wall Coordination - interior elevations can generate and used to coordinate receptacles and built-in furniture

Virtual User Testing - 3D renderings can be used to help the client validate the program and the layout of mission critical spaces.


Gerdau Ameristeel presented the Fast Frame process that streamlines the construction process of steel structures by eliminating the gaps between the engineer, general contractor, sub contractor, detailer and material supplier. The Fast Frame process calls for a Steel Team or Steel Alliance on a project that fosters better communication and interaction between all project stakeholders. It is essentially a mini IPD for the steel scope of the building that results in significant schedule compression.


The first day continued with a presentation from John Moebles of Crate and Barrel. This eye-opening presentation focused on the real ROI of BIM. Crate and Barrel has been engaged in using BIM for several years now. BIM is mostly used for coordination by the design team and the construction team on their projects. According to the owner they have not seen significant ROI on performing coordination only.  It helped prevent delays and reduce field change orders, but making the project "less bad" doesn't yield significant savings compared to past projects.  


Owners would like to see design phase savings by faster document production that results in decreased design fees and shorter turn-around time, and construction phase savings such as compressed schedules and reduced procurement time and cost. According to the presentation real ROI would have to be around 115% to 120% in order for BIM to become more prevalent.


On the first day there were also many discussions around model based estimating both for conceptual and preconstruction phase purposes. This topic is slowly making its way to the spotlight as more and more companies are trying to take advantage of BIM in more ways than just coordination. The day ended with the rapid fire technology demonstrations where we had a chance to debut Vico Office and show it in action.


The second day continued with many sessions about the various ways to split and manage multiple models across the network. The Forum closed with a discussion about ROI where multiple contractors discussed various case studies about savings achieved using BIM for coordination.


It is great to see the industry now stepping beyond using BIM only for coordination and taking the next step into model-based quantity takeoff, estimating and scheduling. However there are still a lot of companies out there that are just starting to learn more about BIM. I guess it's never late to start!

Trimble user group conference

We attended the Trimble user group conference on the last week of February. There was a good turnout at the conference despite the current economic conditions. The conference was packed with interesting sessions and the show floor was set up to show case Trimble’s latest construction equipment products and technology along with a partner exhibition.

Vico was asked to talk about BIM, and benefits of the 5D BIM process. We created a presentation that explained the basics of BIM through project examples. Instead of focusing on the basics of the technology we focused on the benefits and the real world applications of the BIM models in the presentation. For many people at the conference this was the first time they heard about BIM. These discussions reminded me that the construction industry is just getting started with BIM and we have only scratched the surface of the potential that lies ahead for improving productivity and increase savings due to waste.

We also demonstrated at the conference how BIM can connect to the site. You can have the most complete BIM model, but if it doesn’t make it to the site then the entire effort is wasted. Vico’s ability to connect the model with a laser total station improves the speed and accuracy of site lay out. You can learn more about this by watching our webinar with Trimble.

We decided to repeat the presentation on Fridays with Vico Webinar, so more first time BIM-mers can be exposed to the benefits and processes behind implementing the true 5D BIM process. Holly will soon send out the invitations, if you know someone who never heard of BIM feel free to tell them about the session. We hope to help them get started.

Reno Competition

Last month I attended the Reno Student Competition. This annual event brings students, faculty and industry together for a few days of problem solving, networking and job hunting. Construction programs from the Western part of the country nominate teams to compete for solving construction problems sponsored by the industry. The BIM problem was sponsored by Webcor this year. The students were given a set of 2D drawings, a construction program and crew production rates. They had to solve specific questions using a building model such as “what happens to the cost and schedule if you change the structure from concrete to steel?” The students had one day to work on the problem and present their approach to the project in front of an industry panel. In the previous years, students were not required to generate a building model only to use building models that were already given to them. This year, however, it was part of the challenge to build construction models at various levels of detail. It was really good to see that construction modeling was not considered to be an extra skill set, but was becoming the standard way of communicating construction information for students. It was even more exciting to see that the winning team from Calpoly used Vico Constructor, Estimator and Control to accurately define the potential impact of schedule delays. Congratulations Calpoly!

I also had the opportunity to listen in on discussions between faculty and industry about the type of people they would need during the economic downturn. Some General Contractors are considering self performing more trades in this economy so they can capture a bigger share of the project.  In order to expand their business they would need more craftsman and educated field personnel as opposed office staff who work in silos in estimating and scheduling. BIM can help students simulate the construction process and learn more about trades before they go to the site. The most effective BIM curriculum, therefore, is not the one that’s disconnected from construction curriculum, but the one that is integrated with field visits and is part of the construction management course. Many companies are still hiring, but the there are less entry level positions available; the bar is raised and competition is more intense. Students with good understanding of BIM might have an advantage during job interviews.

I am looking forward to seeing next year’s competition. It seems like every year both students and faculty are more familiar with the full value that 5D BIM can offer.

What happens at AU…


Last week we attended the Autodesk University in Las Vegas. It was my first time at this event. It was amazing to see the turn out this year that was close to 9000. There were event hosts and hostesses anywhere you looked. Just setting up the dining hall alone was an operation to watch...


Vico was tucked away towards the back of the exhibit hall but strategically located near a bar so people were always coming our way.  

Vico's next generation platform called Vico Office was showcased at the event. Our development team worked very hard to get the first version of this product in shape for the event. The show floor opened at 7.00 PM on Tuesday. People were so enthusiastic about the show that we stayed open until 10.00 PM well over an hour of the official closing time of the first evening.


Vico office integrates seamlessly with Revit and focuses on model based estimating and model based scheduling. Our focus market is general contractors, construction managers and owner operators, but there was a lot of interest from architects also. One key component of Vico Office is the ability to facilitate the progression of the estimate and schedule as the design evolves. Companies that are doing more and more design build; IPD and other alternative contract types were especially interested in the Vico way of estimating and scheduling.


Everyone was interested in visually tracking quantity, cost and schedule changes in the project with transparent feedback. Even the generation Y kids could relate to how cool construction estimating and scheduling could be when using an integrated 5D tool :)


It was great to meet many of our existing customers and some potential future ones also.  On the image below Holly Alison (VP of Marketing) peeks over Thai Nguyen's shoulder from Hensel Phelps Construction as he takes a test drive of Vico Office.



We also had a chance to meet the representatives of the press. Look for articles in various publications about Vico at AU in the near future! All in all it was a fun event; hope to see you there next year!