For the masses, that’s where model-based estimating is today. I believe it will happen one day, I just don’t know when that day will be.
Now, before you start flaming me on how the technology is ready today and company X is doing it, let’s be clear. I’m referring to the masses: the average architect and the average contractor on the average project (whatever that means). I am NOT referring to design-build firms or joint ventures where the contractor or owner has control of or significant influence over the design process. I’m talking about model-based estimating being as common as electronic 2D drawings and traditional takeoff processes.
I agree that model-based estimating is possible, and has been possible for many, many years. However, when you dive into companies that claim they use BIM on every project, you find that they are NOT referring to model-based estimating. Rather, they are successfully incorporating BIM in many other areas—and that’s a good thing—but their use of model-based estimating in the project delivery process is quite limited, often 5% or less. Usually less.
Am I suggesting that companies should not be exploring model-based estimating? No, not at all. I prefer to see the industry continue to invest in R&D and explore the possibilities. There are plenty of high-profile, complex projects that are suited for model-based estimating to contribute to the preparation of an estimate (just not the entire estimate—that’s another blog post). But just like flying cars, I don’t believe the claims that model-based estimating is around the corner.
What do you believe?