Cost Planning versus Estimating


Why does Vico call its estimating solution “cost planning”? 


We specifically did not call our construction software Estimator or Estimating.  Cost planning is a superset of Estimating, including snapshots of the estimate and budget as they evolve over the course of the design and preconstruction process.  Estimating is a subset of the cost planning methodology providing only one cost structure of the project.  General Contractors can raise their standard of care and deliver more to the Owner that what has been promised contractually.  With Cost Planning, GCs can help the Owner build the building that s/he wants…and keep it on budget.


Many contractors have estimating software already installed.  Industry standards include Timberline and On Screen Takeoff.  But GCs are also starting to receive 3D models and work with them.  What changes to the estimating workflow when you need to cost a model?  Cost planning helps you bridge the gap between 2D estimating and 5D cost planning.  It allows you to incorporate the 3D model into your estimating workflow, and accelerate it.



The cost plan evolves with the project design via the model progression specification.  As more and more details are known about the project, the estimator can hone in on the numbers.  The conceptual estimate can be connected with past project data (a unique Vico Office capability to reuse project information) so that the iterative cost plans build off previous knowledge so there’s no back and forth between spreadsheet cells and drawing sets.


Some people don’t know that 5D cost planning is designed to handle both model-based and non-model based elements.  This means that (a) the estimator does not have to learn modeling and (b) the modeler does not have to model every component to the nth level of detail in order for it to be included in the estimate properly.  Think of 5D cost planning as a process rather than a snapshot.  This process methodology improves our ability to highlight issues, compare alternatives, and track changes as the design is finalized.  The Vico Office solution takes us from 100% paper to 100% BIM model and almost any combination in between.


No more reams of paper and file folders.  The Owner can view the model next to the cost plan next to the budget and see which decisions are driving cost overruns.  This changes the dynamic between the GC and the Owner – it is now an improved relationship based on better communication and visualization helping to create trust and transparency.


Additional Resources:

What Is 5D BIM?

What Is Model-Based Estimating?

Webinar: BIM-Based Estimating Basics

Webinar: BIM 501: Model-Based Estimating

Webinar: Connecting the Conceptual Estimate to the Model Progression Specification

Blog: The Flying Dutchman

Product: Vico Office Cost Planner and FAQs


We also offer a step-by-step guide to our 5D virtual construction workflow with video tutorials. These videos are just 2-5 minutes in length, but illustrate how to use a particular piece of functionality. You can access the video library index and view just what you need, or download the complete set of training videos.