Friday, July 20, 2007

Revit Estimating

I was going to title this blog "your ass-embly is grass", but thought better of it. Also I saw the new Harry Potter movie (don't saw it too) and all i can say is that A.) Apparently there's no more quidditch at Hogwarts (much to my chagrin) and B.) Dumbledore's blue lightning bolts strangely resembled a Jedi knights... just a thought.

Moving on...Revit now has the capability to work with a number of cost estimating platforms that you might or might not be aware of. The first is, US Cost which titles its software Success Estimator and runs through an ODBC database called Success Design Exchange. The two programs in this blog base their cost estimation off of Assembly Codes inherent in an elements properties. I found that this the easiest way to compile multiple elements with their own inherent information into an assembly that contains all of the indivdual component information linked to that assembly. For instance, let's start with a typical 3-5/8" stud wall. 5/8" gyp bd with a level 4 finish would be a RS Means assembly of 092910.30 2050. The 3-5/8" metal stud @ 16" o.c. would be RSMeans 092216.13 1640. The uniformat assembly code then contains the Means data for both of these assemblies into an assembly number, (incidentally C1010190) Needless to say this is what both estimating programs break back down for you in the estimate.

Our company originally looked at getting US Cost in house however we ran into some major snags in regards to actually creating General Contractor type estimates. The format to be quite honest is geared more towards architecture firms who are interested in creating cost estimates in early schematics and design development rather than full on quantity, labor rates, unit costs, bid day alternates, etc.. To that end, I'm not bashing the software and I'm sure the product can be worked around to be effective for that type of application. It just wasn't what we were looking for. If you want more info their website is:

The second bit of software, is Innovaya. And I think they're really starting to see where the whole movement is headed and definitely getting closer. Innovaya works directly with Timberline cost estimation software to perform more detailed cost estimate takeoffs. They are geared more towards the General Contractor or the architect/engineering/design firm who wants a bit more input into the estimates and the ability to show some of the scheduling and 3D phased items. The program also allows the user who doesn't have the Timberline software to export to excel at any time. The great part about this software is the following:

-Ties in with primavera scheduling software (including Sure-trak)

-They have their own timberline template established that specifies the paths for additional assembly codes to their file instead of spending a month trying to get all of that down

-Has real time scheduling and animation capabilities on-screen to show owners and project managers the different levels of completion once the components of the model have been phased in.

I gotta say we have been most impressed with this software and it's ability to work with everyone in the process, from architect/designer, through project scheduling। We get the demo next week and I'll be sure to let everyone know if it has the bells and whistles it says.

the last bit of software is MC2 and in regards to estimating really had the most capabilities as far as breaking the estimate down and estimation flexibility. However, from a BIM point of view they aren't there yet. They apparently are contracted with Innovaya to start work into a comprehensive product that ties into MC2 instead of Timberline, but this product is still in development for release potentially early fall.

Lastly, I have started the somewhat exhaustive process of developing a standards library of many of the basic uniformat assembly of walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc... If anyone knows of a comprehensive library that is shared I would love to know about it। In the meantime I will be creating quite a comprehensive standard of uniformat assemblies that I can hopefully provide here in a couple of months। If any of you want to start messing with creating and editing the classifications i recommend saving out a copy of the text file located here and playing with it.

C:\Program Files\Revit Architecture 2008\Program\UniformatClassifications.txt

Game on.


AMANDA said...

I have currently been designated to disect the Innovaya Visual Simulation, Visual Estimating and Design Estimating for my company with a group of two others. Some of the issues I am running into seem to be with the two Estimating programs. The Tutorials do not seem to be of much help. Are there any tips you can give me to help me to become more proficient. We do not have any Revit design software but we are using RS Means Costworks '08 and have been exporting to Excel since we do not have Timberline.

architect11 said...

Amanda - First of all thanks for your question. Secondly, it depends on what kind of campany and work you do. If you're a construction company like I work for then I can tell you Innovaya, has worked well for us so far. It works great in generating quantities and identifying items that don't have any costs associated with them (Visual Estimating).

If you're an architecture firm and you already have strong familiarity with RSMeans then you might want to investigate US Cost software. These tie into the RSMeans cost books and can be exported to excel. (So can Innovaya, but it works best with Timberline).

AMANDA said...

Yes, I work for a construction management firm. We mostly work with the owners as their representatives.

architect11 said...

Great! I would highly recommend Innovaya due to it's "sticky" memory. What I mean is once you have assigned a cost to a component (SF of wall. LF of cabinetry, etcc..) it recognizes that component the next time you update the estimate, which saves you a considerable amount of time and you can still export estimates and takeoffs to excel.

You will need (regardless of what everyone tells you) to have at least one licensed copy of Revit.The other thing to consider, if you haven't already is that Innovaya has developed a huge cost estimating database that has pretty well done all the hard work for you. What you'll need to add is all of your unit costs and regional cost information, or annually update them per RSMeans, which you're probably doing already.

As far as additional training, Kevin Yu, the founder offers training at a fee. You can either do a webcast or have them come to your loaction to see how you have your existing system set up and then work from there.

architect11 said...

Also forgot to add that design estimating is geared towards architects and visual estimating is the more robust estimating platform.

AMANDA said...

Thanks for all the info! Kevin Yu is our contact for Innovaya so I will make suggestions on getting training. The customer support is lacking a bit but I heard they are communicating from India so direct contact isnt possible.

You speak of assigning costs from RS Means into Visual Estimating. Can this be done without the Timberline software? If so, could please elaborate.

DrPhil said...

Interesting space here... as a former VP with one of the top estimating software firms for over 10 years, I have been pushing "BIM" for over 25 years ever since AutoCAD was first released. Systems estimating has been trying to formalize for years... with ASTM 1557 (Uniformat II) defining the coding structure, CSI jumped in with a hybrid coding structure, and then there is the RS Means interpretation, and there is the Autodesk Revit adaptation. Part of the problem is the AEC community in general thinks they can be estimators, from conceptual estimating through contract documents. The standard flaw is thinking that “everything” will be on the drawings and that the “one-to-one” mapping is somehow patentable! The key is assemblies, and being able to not only quantify what is on the drawings, but also to qualify the costing by what is in the specifications (e.g. solid gold toilet vs. white porcelain), and then.. being able to price the work, for a given time and location. There won’t be a “silver bullet” without an investment in tools, their integration, and the training to use them… until then, I expect to be working with companies refining their BIM process as it relates to technical project management (CAD, estimating, scheduling, i.e. 5D).

John Morales said...

Hallo in our company we use CostOS BIM Estimating, where everything is integrated:

1. Revit Integration
2. Primavera Integration
3. BIM Takeoff
4. Cost Estimating using commercial databases like means etc
5. Cost Visualization

check it out: