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Building Information Modelling: Effect on Quantity Surveyor

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 5447 words Published: 18th Jul 2018

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Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a revolutionary technology and process that has transformed the way buildings are designed, analysed, constructed, and managed” (Hardin, 2009, p. 2). BIM has taken the construction industry into a new-era where all processes has fasten up, the benefits are not just time and cost savings but also reduction of risks and uncertain in construction process. From the through literature review of many researchers works published in various journals suggestions are being made as how this BIM approach is being carried out in construction industry, at the same time a critical literature review is also being conducted on the cost estimation within BIM technologies and whether this can benefit or harm the future role of the quantity surveyor.

A questionnaire was designed to identify how the use of BIM will affect the future role quantity surveyor. The questionnaires were distributed to family and friends working within the construction industry and also construction professionals within the UK.

From analysis the results obtained and comparing them with the literature review.

Implementing BIM within the construction industry although the Government Chief Construction Adviser Paul Morrell called for BIM adoption on UK government construction projects of £5 million and over. And also in June 2011 the UK government published its BIM strategy, announcing its intention to require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016 (Elena Poletayeva, 2011). At this current time there is a clear indication that BIM isn’t being used to its full advantage within the construction industry

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The following research will investigate and analysis how the use of BIM will affect the future role of the quantity surveyor. According to the Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA (2012), almost a third of construction consultants are now using BIM. Thenbs (2011) provided information that in May 2011 UK Government Chief Construction Adviser Paul Morrell called for BIM adoption on UK government construction projects of £5million and over.

Thenbs (2012) stated that Building Information Modelling covers geometry, spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, quantities and properties of building components. BIM data can be used to illustrate the entire building life cycle. Quantities and properties of materials can be extracted easily and the scope of works can be easily defined. Furthermore systems, assemblies and sequences can be shown in a relative scale to each other and relative to the entire project.

1.1 Problem identification and purpose of study

The purpose of this research report is to investigate the qualities of BIM and the influence it will have on the quantity surveying profession, through research of the opportunities and barriers that it brings forth, and the changes to be made and measures to be taken by quantity surveyors in the future, in order to successfully incorporate BIM into the quantity surveying profession.

“The main role of Quantity Surveyors is to estimate the building cost, the modern quantity surveyor provides a service that covers all aspects of procurement, contractual and project cost management. The role of the quantity surveyor plays a very important role in all phases of any type of Construction Company” (surveyors, 2013). The modern quantity surveyor plays a central role in the management of construction projects (Towey, 2012 p.26).”estimators have developed their computing skills in using estimating systems but mostly relying in adopting spread sheets and database ages”(Brook, 2008 p.9).

Repository (2012) stated that over the years the need for more cost effective, better quality and environmentally friendlier construction has grown, these factors are the main Influences on the development of technology in the construction industry. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is one of the technologies that have been creating a buzz in the construction industry over the last few years.

Ukconstructionessays (2012) provided information that Building Information Modelling, or better known as BIM is not; strictly speaking a new technology as it has been developing and used by other industry sectors since 1950s i.e. the automotive and aero plane industries.

As technology evolves, we are forced to evolve with it or run the risk of being left behind. The traditional way of utilising the services of a quantity surveyor has largely been at the stage of costing a design, and the production of procurement and construction documentation (Asworth and Hogg, 2002p.67). With the development of technology like BIM, the responsibilities of professionals are starting to shift. BIM includes a series of cost management functions that could change the processes of cost management of construction projects. This forces the quantity surveyor to focus more on different parts of the cost management process, than what would have previously. Not only will BIM influence the cost management functions and responsibilities of the quantity surveyor, but also the technology and types of software that are currently used in quantity surveying offices.

The responsibilities of quantity surveyors will be changed as some of their traditional roles will be replaced by the use of, so that their focus will shift from bill producers to cost managers, which will shift the design process from costing to a design to designing to a cost.

1.2 Structure of the Dissertation

The whole dissertation is primarily divided up into 6 chapters.

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to the Dissertation
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Research Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Analysis & Discussions
  • Chapter 5: Conclusion & Recommendations
  • Chapter 6: References

1.3 Aims & Objectives

1.3.1 Aim:

The objective of this dissertation is to identify if the use of BIM in the construction industry is going to affect the future role of the quantity surveyor.

1.3.2 Objectives:

  • To understand what is BIM
  • To Research into whether BIM will help aid the Quantity Surveyor
  • To Research into whether BIM will affect the role of the Quantity surveyor
  • To summarise, analyse and evaluate the data collected in order analyse how the use of BIM will affect the future role of the quantity surveyor.
  • Critically analyse the data collected from these questionnaires by comparing theoretical conclusions with the empirical research findings to draw conclusions.
  • To prepare a questionnaire to collect data from practitioners within the construction industry in the UK in regards to whether the use of BIM will affect the future role of quantity surveyor.

Clear objectives are important to determine whether this study is achieving what it set out to do. It is also important to write program objectives as specifically as possible to provide program clarity and strong links to evaluation. “It is much easier to evaluate a program when clear objectives have been developed” (my peer 2012).Subsequently, if the projects aim and objectives are achieved by this research, this would be useful to figure out whether the use of BIM will affect the future role of the Quantity surveyor.

1.4 Restraints & Limitations

The main restraint is the access and use of BIM software as a full time student I do not have access to BIM software within the construction industry or at the university. Archicad or Autodesk will need to be used to understand fully what BIM is and how it works; a student version can be downloaded online. The research will involve the use of academic materials such as textbooks, journals, published and unpublished documents and internet sites shown further on in the study in section 3.4. The data analysis will be carried out by sending out an online questionnaire to two contacts working for a consultant and contractor respectively. I made acquaintance with these two contacts from previous work experience.

Another restraint is how many people answer the online questionnaire; the more people that answer the questionnaire will be beneficial within the analysis as a greater number of people will give much more accurate results. Many of the potential individuals who will carry out the questionnaire may have busy schedules so research must be taken into ensuring that questions are suitable and are able to draw suitable responses from at the end. It will be hard to measure how many construction companies currently use BIM and whether It is having an effect on the role of quantity surveyors working within the construction industry as there isn’t enough time to gather research from every construction company around the UK .Throughout the study an open mind will be maintained whilst undertaking the research and analysis of the data collected.

1.5 Research Beneficiaries/Dissemination

This research will be useful into identifying whether the use of BIM will affect the future role of the quantity surveyor or aid the future role of the quantity surveyor. And to also identify what specific ways the quantity surveyor may benefit from using BIM and in what specific ways the quantity surveyor may be affected by the use of BIM in the future.

Other categories to benefit from this research include the researcher, students and academics. By undertaking this research companies and people working within the construction industry can have a better understanding on the use of BIM approach and how it can be implemented within the cost estimation stage of a project and also into different phases of a project and the views of other professionals working within the UK construction industry on this application can be found and thus can implement that application effectively for the success of the project.


2.1 Introduction

In this chapter 2 of literature review, a critical literature has been conducted about how the use of BIM can aid the role of quantity surveyor and how BIM may be a threat to the future role of the quantity surveyor.

2.2 Building Information Modelling

Construction business owner (2012) provided information that BIM allows early collaboration and integration of the design information in a 3-D environment programs are widely used in the early stages to eliminate potential issues that would be costly to rectify in the field.

All parties involved benefit. Designers can identify and correct design issues before they result in rework and schedule delays. Contractors have more reliable information and can better plan for equipment use and construction sequencing. Owners can “walk” the project in a 3-D environment during the design. And facility managers can pinpoint ergonomic issues and plan maintenance activities more efficiently by sharing the model with their vendors and contractors.

BIM will only benefit users if it leads to improved design, faster delivery, reduced price or improved value. A combination of these factors will dictate how successful BIM implementation will be in the coming years. When all members of the construction team work on the same model, from early design through to completion, changes are automatically coordinated across the project and information generated is therefore of high quality.

The construction industry is widely acknowledged as unique and conservative. Building Information Modelling (BIM) systems have the potential to revolutionize current practices and to automate the measurement of quantities from construction drawings. However, there are fears that such developments could threaten the future role of the quantity surveyor.

2.3 Advantages of BIM

The application of BIM has the result of many advantages, such as:

Greater speed

The multi-dimensionality of BIM allows various deliverables and documentation to be prepared simultaneously to the design of the building. Furthermore, the use of object-oriented design and the re-use of information accelerate the creation of drawings (Ashcraft, 2007) REFENCED. Changes made to a certain aspect of the model or the design will be automatically updated through the rest of the project, which allows for major time savings. R

2.3.2 Lower costs

Sabol (2012) provided information that BIM offers the capability to generate take-offs, counts and measurements directly from a model. This provides a process where information stays consistent throughout the project and changes can be readily accommodated. Building information modelling supports the full project lifecycle and offers the capability to integrate costing efforts throughout all project phases. According to chuck Eastman (2011) at any stage of the design, BIM technology can extract an accurate bill of quantities and spaces that can be used for cost estimation.

2.3.3 Uniform design base

With traditional methods every stakeholder uses the same information but interprets it in a different way and enters it into a different format. As this information is exchanged between different parties, errors might be transferred with it. “BIM ensures that all parties work on the same base model, that coordinates building objects created across various disciplines which will quickly expose errors” (Howell and Batcheler, 2005 p.58).

2.3.4 Drawing fabrication

All floor plans, sections and elevations will be accurate and consistent with one another, as they are produced directly from the same model (Howell and Batcheler, 2005, p.64).

2.3.5 Cost Estimation

Cost estimating is currently a time consuming process, requiring an entire team of estimators. Acebytes (2012) provided information that there are multiple factors hindering the transition to model-based estimating; however, the risks are justified by the benefits of estimating with BIM. Building Information Modelling has the capability to automate a quantity take-off, which will reduce the time and costs required to estimate a project. By using a building information model instead of drawings; the take offs, counts, and measurements can be generated directly from the underlying model and the information can be linked to generate bills of materials, size and area estimations along with other related estimating information. According to Hardin (2009) another strategy for leveraging BIM during a project is to use the BIM file for updating estimates very quickly, last minute design changes can be altered and updated much more quickly than typical take off methodologies can catch up with.

2.4 Disadvantages of BIM

Precisedraftunginc (2012) provided information that BIM requires more effort at the front end of a project to establish the initial framework. But the payoff is that you are able to extract a much higher quality and greater quantity of information from that model. BIM allows changes to happen easily, so clients may continue to make changes too late in the process, and that can impact construction and design costs.

BIM results in much larger file sizes than traditional CAD systems, and requires higher performing computer hardware to operate it effectively.

BIM requires more thoughtful design. We now have to do what all good designers have done in the past: Think in 3d and visualize the final product!

2.5 Who is currently using BIM?

“NBS surveyed over 6,500 construction professionals in the UK with over a 6% response rate” (Thenbs, 2012). Those asked said they believed a quarter of the industry will use BIM for the majority of projects in one year’s time and a half will use BIM for the majority of projects in three years’ time.

BIM survey – who is using and intends to use BIM

As shown in fig 1 the survey shows a clear split in the industry. There is a gradually increase in the respondents who intend to use BIM for all projects over the next 5 years. This reflecting in the gradual drop in respondents who intend to use BIM for a minority of projects over the next 5 years.

2.6 Considerations and Limitations of BIM

BIM has the potential to improve the communication and coordination between the different stakeholders of a project. BIM’s benefits range from simple improvements in efficiency and coordination to greater client satisfaction.

With all of the perceived benefits of BIM, AV professionals should also be aware that there are a number of Considerations and current limitations that must be taken into account.

2.6.1 Cost of Software and Hardware

Every organization currently utilizing 2D or 3D CAD drafting software can attribute a cost element against purchasing, maintaining and upgrading software licenses to keep a competitive market advantage. Current trends show that the cost of BIM software packages tends to be more expensive than CAD software packages available on the market.

With the introduction of BIM software, the requirements on hardware have increased significantly. Currently, CAD software can be operated (with limitations) on a vast majority of professional laptops. Yet with the introduction ofBIM software, dedicated high-specification workstations, equivalent to those required by advanced modeling and rendering software, are required.

Software and program requirements are ahead of hardware availability. With BIM software, it is essential to know exactly what parameters of the hardware improve performance and what elements have no major effect at all.

2.6.2 Cost of Training

With new software, there is a great demand to train staff quickly so that the investment can be justified. It is not realistic to assume professionals with CAD proficiency will be able to learn new BIM software quickly or without specialized training. Given the fundamental differences between BIM and CAD, training should be considered a requirement for all professionals involved with designing and producing documentation.

BIM provides the ability for every member of the team to be involved in the design and modeling process, giving them complete control of the end product. Investment in training for early adopters provides them a competitive edge with projects that have clearly specified requirements to be documented utilizing BIM.

2.6.3 Compatibility between Software Platforms

One of the biggest issues with early adaptors of BIM is the issue of inter-product compatibility. Due to the relatively new nature of the market, every software manufacturer is doing something different with its software. This interoperability challenge can make it difficult for projects to function if different team members own different software packages.

This interoperability issue is not limited to different software platforms; due to the rapid development of the BIM software industry newer versions of programs within the same platform can have interoperability issues.

One alternative to the current product-specific models is a vendor-independent, neutral-file format. One such file format is the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) format which captures both geometry and properties of intelligent building objects (objects with associated usable metadata) and their relationships within Building Information Models, thus facilitating the sharing of information across otherwise incompatible applications.

2.6.4 Innovation

Since a goal of BIM is to assign constraints and parameters to intelligent objects to improve efficiency, there is a potential to inhibit innovation which would possibly otherwise occur without the automated processes and shared knowledge that BIM now provides. Those firms implementing BIM should view the parameters and metadata constraints as a global database that allows designers to save time associated with updating and configuring product-specific data repetitively on different projects, hence increasing the amount of time spent on system design and innovation.

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2.6.5 Conclusion

“A BIM model can overcome most of the most serious failings of conventional drawing-based design. It provides greater client certainty earlier: improved consistency and easier coordination of design documentation: improved, complete procurement documentation: much more powerful construction and project management tools: and much more valuable ‘as built’ and record information for the owner. The result will be substantiality more profitable firms of all types in the sector “(Ray Crotty, 2011, p.57)

2.7 The Cost Management Functions of Building Information Modelling

2.7.1 Bills of quantities

Bills of quantities are one of the main tools used in the cost management of construction projects. The automatic production of bills of quantities is one of the functions that BIM technology developers pride themselves on as the fifth dimension of BIM. The automation of bills of quantities is one of the functions that enhanced BIM technology to be fully collaborative and integrative. “The primary and core component of the 5D concept is a properly configured 3D model of the building” (Popov et al. 2009).” A properly produced BIM uses parametric modelling and object-orientated modelling to assign construction data, such as the physical properties and functional peculiarities, to each building element modelled” (BIM Journal, 2009). In order to demonstrate this, consider the following example: A door built into a

R: Popov, V., Juocevicius, V., Migilinskas, D., Ustinovichius, L and Mialauskas, S. 2009. The use of a virtual building design and construction model for developing an effective project concept in 5D environment, Automation in Construction, Volume 19, November 2009


2.7.2 Cost estimates

BIM technology can extract accurate quantities and spaces that can be used for cost estimating at any period of the design of a project. Different information is applicable to different stages of the design phase, and advantage should be taken of information available and where not reasonable assumptions should be made (Eastman et al. 2008). In the early stages of the design phase, when the design is still conceptual and limited information is available, cost estimates are typically based on a cost per unit or cost per square metre (Eastman et al. 2008). The BIM model can easily make available design variable information, such as the floor-to-ceiling height of each area, the perimeter/floor area ratio, the height of the building, etc which needs to be taken into account as it can have an impact on the cost per unit or cost per square metre rates.

R: Eastman, C., Teicholz, P., Sacks, R. and Liston, K. 2008. BIM Handbook: A guide to Building Information Modelling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers, and Contractors, J Wiley, New Jersey

“It should be noted that while building models provide adequate Measurements for quantity take-offs, they are not a replacement for estimating. Estimators perform a critical role in the building process far beyond that of extracting counts and measurements” (Eastman, 2011, p.276).


A Quantitative research methodology will be used. According to Shamil Naoum, (2006 p.g39) quantitative research is based on a hypothesis or a theory composed of a variable measured and analysed with statistical procedures. Quantitative research enables the author to measure and analyse data. Benefitof (2012) provided information that the relationship between an independent and dependent variable is studied in detail. The use of standard means in quantitative research means that any research may be replicated, analysed and also compared with other similar studies. Quantitative research allows for greater accuracy and objectivity of results gained .Quantitative research usually filters out all external factors and if well designed, it provides unbiased and real results. Quantitative research is a great method to finalise results and disprove or prove a hypothesis. It is useful for testing results gotten from doing various qualitative experiments, thereby leading to the final answer. Quantitative Research will provide the advantage of finding a premeditated set of result from a range of professionals in the construction industry.

3.1 Advantages of quantitative data collection:

  • Numeric estimates
  • Opportunity for relatively uncomplicated data analysis
  • Data which are verifiable
  • Data which are comparable between different communities within different locations
  • Data which do not require analytical judgement beyond consideration of how information will be presented in the dissemination process.

3.2 Disadvantages of quantitative data collection:

  • Gaps in information – issues which are not included in the questionnaire, or secondary data checklist, will not be included in the analysis
  • A labour intensive data collection process
  • Limited participation by affected persons in the content of the questions or direction of the information collection process.

(Reliefweb, 2012)

3.3 The Questionnaire

A Questionnaire will be produced to obtain the data. Statpac (2012) provided information that Questionnaires are very cost effective when compared to face-to-face interviews. “Surveys are used to gather data from a relatively large number of respondents within a limited time frame” (Naum, 2006, p. 44).Questionnaires are easy to analyse, they are familiar to most people. They are less are less intrusive than telephone or face-to-face surveys. The results from the questionnaires will then be produced into bar charts and analysed.

The questionnaire will consist of 18 different types of questions from closed ended, open ended, Numerical rating scale questions which will require the respondents to rate the answers, rating out of 5, 1= “least important” and 5= “most important”. And ranking questions which will require the respondents to place a set of attitudes or object’s in ranking order indicating their importance. The main advantage of incorporating open questions within the questionnaire is “They give the respondents the opportunity to express their views” (Naum, 2006, p.68).

“Open questions can, however, present problems. As the open question offers no direct clues and is a broad base. Predictably this type of questionnaire is more difficult to analyse and interpret” (Naum, 2006, p.69). By contrast, closed questions often require a short simple response in the form of Yes or No, Agree or Disagree, Important or Not important, etc. closed ended questions are easy to ask and quick to answer they also require no writing by either the respondent or interviewer and their analysis is quick and straightforward.

The structure of the questionnaire will comprise of the first 7 closed ended questions asking the respondents simple questions comprising of their job role, how long they have worked in the construction industry, project location, project value and whether they have heard of BIM. the last 11 questions comprises of open ended question which require the respondent to justirfy their answer and state their opinion.

3.4 Data Collection

Within this research, to achieve the objectives a quantitative approach is being implemented by a structured questionnaire to obtain the information from various people within the construction industry who work or who have worked as a role of a quantity surveyor/ estimator. This research is structured in such a way that to start with a pilot test of the structured questionnaire is prepared so as to enable the practicability of the proposed questionnaire applicable to the study. The data collection process is applicable to the complete research

The questionnaire was uploaded to www.freeonlinesurveys.com once the questionnaire was produced the website then created a UR in which I copied into the email, the email was sent out to two contacts In which I made acquaintance with from previous work experience. Along with the link to the online questionnaire a covering letter in which “kindly forward this email to your work colleagues” was added to the introduction this would provide a greater number of respondents. The cover letter also stated the purpose of the research and even giving an assurance to the companies that all the information they provide will be considered as confidential and is purely for only academic purpose.

The questionaries where sent out via email on Tuesday 12th February 2013 to a construction consultancy Rider Levytt Bucknall Birmingham and construction contractor kier construction Birmingham. By using an electronic means (as e-mail) will ensure a speedy process in despatch of information rather than sending them by postal service thereby saving time. This method will aid within the analysis of the results as the research will be gained by both contractor and consultants and a deeper and more accurate conclusion will be gained at the end of the study. The nature of the data required will be based on personal opinion from a range of construction professionals working within a construction consultancy and a construction contractor.

3.5 Resources

The main type of research that will be used for this study will be applied

Research, the following resources will be consulted:

3.5.1 Text books

Various text books will be consulted as well as a series of electronic books. This will be one of the main sources of information

3.5.2 Journal articles

Journals articles are usually more easily obtainable as they are more freely available in electronic form which is easily accessible via the internet. It will also serve as a main source as journals and articles holds the most recent information on the topic.

3.5.3 Electronic resources

Various electronic resources will be consulted, as information is easily accessible through the use of a variety of search engines.

3.6 Data Analysis

The data collected from these questionnaires will be critically analysed and summarised and all the data is interpreted in charts and logical style format. From these statistics a logical argument is drawn from the results obtained from critical comparison with the findings of the current literature. This is mainly to have a better idea of what their thoughts and views in person. The objective is to unravel the data and present it in an academic format that is credible to professionals within the construction industry. In doing so it will emphasize key variables and whether the use of BIM will affect the future role of a quantity surveyor and how, and to also understanding the usage of BIM, establishing if any drawbacks, benefits are present; which can then be formulated to become educational information. Finally, from these statistics a logical argument is drawn from the results obtained from critical comparison with the findings of the current literature. From all these approaches we can draw a conclusion and possible recommendations shall be made from the research findings so as to validate on if the use of BIM will affect the future role of the Quantity surveyor.

3.7 Summary

In this chapter of Research Methodology, by discussing about the different type of research methods such as qualitative and quantitative, the quantitative type of approach with an closed structural questionnaire survey has been chosen for this dissertation as this type of approach would be the best suitable one with respect to both time and approach and mostly all these questionnaires has been sent through E-mail as to reduce the time span and to choose much more IT services effectively so that the respondent should be flexible to answer the questionnaire. The responses collected are being represented in a c


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