The following seven criteria have been developed for the review on the selected BIM estimating tools.
- Model information exchange (Exchange) – file types or formats of BIM models that can be supported by the tools. This criterion investigates whether the software tools are capable of supporting the original Revit model directly or an exported model format is required, e.g. IFC, DWG, PDF. This also includes an assessment of any possible information loss during the import and export process.
- Model Visualisation (Visualisation) – the capability to support 3D visualisation of the whole BIM model including the ability for users to navigate, manipulate, toggle or highlight the objects or building elements within the model when preparing estimates.
- Quantification process (Quantification) – the level of simplicity, and speed of the tools in generating cost estimates or quantity take-offs. It is also important to examine whether a particular tool provides users the necessary flexibility to choose which information to take-off from the model along with the ability to produce accurate outcomes. It also reviews the tools’ ability of performing partial or full automatic quantification, hence, reducing the efforts and time in manual estimating routines.
- Reliability of information production (Reliability) – capability of tools to transfer and extract information from BIM models with a minimum loss of valuable object properties or data. It also examines the availability of any mechanism that is able to check whether the models meet the requirements prescribed from the quantity take-off point of view.
- Customisation of built-in categories/classifications for standard estimating format (Customisation)- the availability of in-built standard measurement rules or parameters within the tools that enable users to generate quick quantity take-offs from BIM models. This includes the capability of incorporating the UK standards or parameters such as NRM within the tools to ease the export of required data, and later map them against the correct NRM classifications.
- Change management or revision control (Change) – the ability of tools to recognise and record changes in BIM models accurately, before linking the changes with cost estimates. In other cases, it also explores whether the estimating tools enable view and highlight of new revisions in the model including allowing users to make comparison with previous model versions.
- Report generation and export (Report)- the ability of tools to process the output of cost estimates into reports and export them into users’ desired file format and structure, e.g. excel, pdf, txt, etc.