Counting the Cost


01 October 2014 Posted by Dave Higgitt

Tell me about CostX - its purpose, functionality, ease of use
CostX estimating software was designed to enable measurement and estimating to move away from being paper-based into a fully digital workflow. The on-screen measurement tools are easy to use, and the workbooks are in a simple but powerful spreadsheet-style format.

One of the key reasons for the increasing interest in CostX is its high level of compatibility with 5D BIM, which is the process of applying costs to BIM data models. Some features include support for Revit© BIM files and IFCs, ability to automatically extract quantities or manually measure from the model, ability to link 2D drawings to the BIM models and more. In addition, a variety of 2D drawings (scanned, PDF, CAD and more) are still supported for those times that BIM is not required. 

What are the advantages of BIM being used as a universal tool across the industry?
A key tenet of BIM is that a shared asset model supports a collaborative workflow, which leads to better outcomes. File interoperability is an important aspect of this. The establishment of industry standards and procedures provides a sound framework for BIM implementation across all sectors of the industry to the benefit of the community as a whole. 5D BIM within QS and estimating companies has been a slower uptake than some other facets of BIM, but this is now changing as we see more and more companies making the switch. 

How can a company phase 5D BIM into their day-to-day practises with minimum disruption?
Because CostX supports both 2D and 3D, it allows a company to transition their current practices across to BIM in a planned manner. Much of what they are already doing is still applicable in a BIM workflow and there is still a need to work with 2D drawing files within a BIM project. The main difference is the ability to interrogate the BIM model to extract quantities, and use the 2D files to verify and validate those quantities rather than measuring them. 

What help is out there for companies in the educational sector making the 5D BIM transition?
There is a wealth of online information. A good starting point is the BIM Task Group website ( There are also published standards such as PAS 1192-2 and the RICS has published a number of Guidance Notes and Research papers such as ‘How Can BIM Support the New Rules of Measurement (NRM1)’, ‘The International BIM Implementation Guide’ and ‘Overview of a 5D BIM Project’. A CostX Whitepaper is also available on the Exactal website ( as well as demonstration videos and other useful information.

To minimise the challenges in transitioning, it is important to establish realistic expectations of what BIM can and can’t achieve, what the enablers are and where the constraints lie. Education is the key. By all means appoint some BIM champions but don’t just leave it to a couple of enthusiasts - take a top-down, management-driven, whole-of-company approach. 

What would your top three tips be for the successful implementation of BIM by 2016?
Firstly, do your homework. Find out as much as you can from sources such as those mentioned above. Secondly, buy some software such as CostX and invest in proper training. Software on its own is not a BIM solution, but it is the enabler to undertake BIM and is a logical starting point. Thirdly, start straight away! This means having a dialogue with designers and starting to work with 3D model files, even on projects which are not designated as BIM. BIM is a journey and there are no short cuts, so the sooner you start, the better a position you will be in by 2016. 

Why is it imperative that companies who haven’t fully embraced BIM already begin implementing it into their practises as soon as possible?
The industry will soon reach a stage where BIM won’t be an option – it will be the only way to do business. So the decision is not whether to invest in BIM, but when. Current early adopters are companies that perhaps saw a competitive edge in being BIM-enabled. However the emphasis will soon shift so that being BIM-enabled will be the norm and those companies that have maintained the status quo will find themselves competitively disadvantaged. With so much information available about BIM there is no excuse to be uninformed and with software such as CostX being readily available the time to invest is now. 

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