BIM Best Practice – What Quantity Surveyors Need To Know As We Move Forward

Even as 2018 is drawing to a close, misconceptions still surround the advent of BIM in construction and what it means for the average quantity surveyor. These concerns have caused many professionals to steer clear of BIM for as long as possible, despite the clear evidence that our industry is moving towards widespread implementation of the collaboration technique.

To address these misconceptions, the AIQS (Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors) and NZIQS (New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors) have collaborated on a set of Best Practice Guidelines for those getting started with BIM. While these recommendations may differ slightly depending on worldwide region, they represent a great starting point for surveyors looking to build their knowledge. The Guidelines are available for download from the AIQS website.

For our latest blog post, we have summarised some key areas of knowledge that quantity surveyors, cost managers and estimators must possess before they collaborate on a BIM project for the first time.

Common BIM Misconceptions

Since BIM was first implemented in construction, a number of misnomers about the process have gradually taken hold. Several of these conceptions paint a dark picture for the future of quantity surveying, such as the notion that a Bill of Quantities can be produced with a single click of a button, and all quantities will reside entirely within a BIM file. Another common prediction is that engineers and architects will be able to extract all necessary quantities from a model themselves, rendering the QS obsolete.

The reality of BIM and the QS profession is far less bleak, as the value of surveying knowledge and experience cannot be replaced by new software or technology.

Surveyors and estimators who are using BIM still follow the same traditional processes. The only fundamental difference is that they have more time to add their value and expertise thanks to the takeoff speed benefits of BIM. The QS can benchmark cost rates, simulate the impact that material changes can have on a budget and generally apply their deep knowledge to achieve the best outcome for the project.

Establishing a BIM Execution Plan

Project teams preparing to introduce BIM on a project require an agreed-upon blueprint that outlines how the collaboration will progress. This is referred to as a BIM Execution Plan, and it is a joint effort between the client and project team that lays out the deliverables of the project.

Contents of a BEP can include project information and defined goals, the individual roles and responsibilities of each project member, BIM exchange protocols and data requirements, technology and infrastructure considerations and much more.

The document provides a baseline to measure progress, and is is helpful in ensuring that all members clearly understand collective goals, responsibilities and expectations at all stages of a project. To view an example of a BEP, refer to page 48 of the linked Best Practice Guidelines.

Key BIM Competencies for Surveyors and Estimators

As with any profession, there are prerequisite skill levels and competencies that should be attained before any work takes place. When it comes to BIM, surveyors and estimators should be well-versed in design modelling development, identifying quantities at specific levels and manipulating models to extract useable quantities and measures.

Being able to validate the reliability of a model and its contained information is also an important competency, as is adjusting cost plans to reflect evolving project data and operating in the Common Data Environment (CDE). The AIQS and NZIQS also list the ability to identify placeholder and model issues, as well as a methodical and consistent approach to procedures, as vital aspects of BIM success for surveyors.

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