During Level One Cost Planner Training, we saw how easy it was to set up an initial cost plan without even having a BIM model available. Then during Level Two training, we saw how to access previous project data to flesh out our cost plan. In Level Three we appropriated our quantities by location, confirmed quantity calculations with Formula Editor, and even developed a Cost per Location report. With Level Four training we brought in legacy estimating data with Excel Import and then compared two different versions of the estimate with Cost Explorer. All these tasks were accomplished before we had a BIM model to work with.
Well, our wait is over. In Level Five training we finally get the BIM model; in fact, we get two: one for substructure, one for superstructure. But now it is up to us to import the models, activate them, determine the takeoff settings, and then work with the takeoff quantities.
There are two very important items of note here for both our Customers and our university students.
#1: Just because you get/make/receive a BIM model does not mean that it will be perfect. There are design-intent models and construction-intent models. One is not better than the other, but they do determine the amount of reassigning and/or painting that you will need to do in Takeoff Manager. Please be sure to understand this topic by reading:
One Model Versus Many
4 Ways to Improve BIM Model Fidelity
#2: Following on to point #1, just because there is a software program with a button called "get quantities" does not mean you "press it and forget it." A perfect quantity takeoff depends on a perfect BIM model. And no BIM model is every going to include each and every brick of the facade. We are always going to be pushing boundaries with curved surfaces and unique materials. But that's why we give the user tools like the paintbrush and the Formula Editor. Don't be fooled by marketing claims about the magic of BIM - the estimator's experience must be brought to bear on the quantity takeoff. Again, please read these articles on the topic to learn more:
There Is No Easy Button for BIM Quantity Takeoff
Does BIM Mean Estimators Are Out of a Job
We've developed these video tutorials to walk you through the major pieces of functionality in easy bite-sized chunks. Refer back to these videos as often as you like. We'll continue to update the materials as new releases of Vico Office are issued.
After watching these video tutorials on the major features of Vico Office Client and Takeoff Manager, please navigate to the FAQs to learn even more. And when you're ready, please feel free to advance to the next level. You can also request to receive the entire video collection by completing the form on the Vico Office Training Videos page.
Vico Office Cost Planner Level 5
Step One: Publishing a Model to Vico Office
We finally have a BIM model to work with, but first we need to get it inside the Vico Office environment. This is accomplished with a step called Publishing. We can publish models from ArchiCAD, Revit, and Tekla with their add-ons menu. It's as easy as clicking the Publish to Vico button. With the publishing action, we transfer all the model geometry and properties that we will use for constructability analysis, quantity takeoff, scheduling, and estimating. But please note, we do not alter the model geometry in Vico Office - it is not a modeling engine. Changes need to be made in the original authoring application, but then those new versions can be published to Vico Office and organized with Model Manager.
To learn more about model publishing, importing, excel import, and reporting, please refer to the Vico Office Client FAQs and the Vico Office Client Features and Benefits. The Client is the one mandatory module for all Vico Office users because of the publishing, viewing, and reporting capabilities. We also have a special series of video tutorials covering Report Editor which we highly recommend.
Step Two: Activating the Model and Generating the Takeoff Quantities
The next step is to activate the model. This includes selecting the elements or the properties that will comprise our takeoff items. Our Services Team has found that a general rule of thumb is to select Layer and ID for ArchiCAD; Family Type and Mark for Revit.
At the end of this function, we'll see the 3D model in the view and note that it now has a green light next to its place in the Manage Model tree structure.
Step Three: Quality Assurance Checks on the Model and Takeoff Quantities
What makes an estimator bolt upright in bed in a cold sweat? The fear of missing scope. One of the ways to allievate this fear is to take advantage of the dynamic visual nature of Vico Office. This video illustrates how to interrogate the model and the quantities and perform a visual quality assurance check.
By clicking on a takeoff item, users can see it highlighted in the 3D view. Drilling down further reveals the geometry contributing to the quality takeoff, and again, the user can visually inspect the model.
Step Four: Using the 3D Filter Panel
When we are working with large models, it's very helpful to be able to hone in on certain elements to speed our quality assurance check. The Filter Panel allows you to do just that with five options (model, location, layer, type, manual) and three modes (isolate, hide, translucent). The video offers several examples and uses for the filters, but it all goes back to making it easier for the user to interrogate the model. How am I going to use this model to get the best information possible?
Step Five: Reassigning Takeoff Items
In an ideal project, you've worked with the designers, subs, and other model authors on a content plan using the Model Progression Specification. This way you can be assured that elements names, details, and basic information is consistent, making downstream functions like scheduling and estimating much more straightforward.
In this example, we don't have an MPS in place and the model author has made a couple small mistakes that we can correct in Paint Mode. Using the Paintbrush tool, we can add or remove elements from the selected takeoff item. The video shows how use the paintbrush in conjunction with the Filter Panel to drill down on two pilecaps.
Should we find an egregious error, we can even change the element type. This saves us time - time to spend working on our quantity takeoff instead of going back and forth with the model author. And it is another good example of QA'ing your model and takeoff.
Step Six: Reassigning Takeoff Surfaces
As we continue to QA our model and quantity takeoff, we notice that there is an element whose surface we do not want to include in our quantity calculation. So we move back into Paint Mode and in the 3D View de-select or "un-paint" the top surface area of a concrete slab.
However, there are two bands of an edge surface area that we do want to apply to some special formwork, so we create a new takeoff item and paint the two edge surfaces. Now our new takeoff item for special formwork is being calculated using those two surfaces.
The effort we put into the QA process will become evident when we use these quantities in our schedule and estimate.
Step Seven: Using Formula Editor
We've seen Formula Editor before in Level 3; but now we'll be using it to connect our model-based quantities to our cost plan! Formula Editor gives us the opportunity to amend a quantity calculation with our own experience – or use the quantity calculated from the model geometry. We also see again the dynamic visual nature of Vico Office by creating a 3-way view of our data. This view shows us the model element, the takeoff item, and the quantity assumed in the cost plan – a brilliant way for Estimators to insure that all scope is covered.
Now that you've seen that setting up an estimating project in Vico Office Cost Planner is just like starting a traditional estimate from scratch; and you've seen that utilizing previous project work is as easy as dragging and dropping and auto-complete; and you've seen how to define a quantity takeoff for an element is just like establishing a formula in Excel and even how to map these quantities to their proper location; and you've learned to use Cost Explorer to compare the current project status to the budget; and we've finally started using a BIM model from which we can extract quantities for our estimate using Takeoff Manager, let's advance to Level Six Cost Planner Training. You can also request to receive the entire video collection by completing the form on the Vico Office Training Videos page.
And remember, you can always jump over to the Vico Office Client tutorial videos.