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BIM and Big Data for Construction Cost Management

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About ten years ago, the function of ‘automated quantity surveying’, together with ‘clash detection’, has already been placed at the crux of the effort to mainstream BIM in the global construction industry.

 Numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the technical solutions of applying BIM for cost management (e.g., BIM-enabled quantity take-off, automated generation of bill of quantities, and 5D BIM-enabled cost control). 

In this text, the terms ‘quantity surveying (QS)’ and ‘construction cost management’ are used interchangeably to accommodate the broader readership from both UK and non-UK systems, albeit sometimes there are nuanced differences between the two terms.

 Professional bodies such as the RICS or the HKIS have sponsored research projects to examine whether BIM is an ally or an adversary for the QS profession. These studies determined that BIM principally benefits QS, but this long-standing profession should reinvent its core competencies.

 The whole industry seems much relieved. Yet, despite BIM’s decade-long maturity, the global construction industry’s acceptance and application of BIM in cost management has been sluggish, or at best, not as smooth as it has been expected.

 It is against this backdrop that we three decided to write this book, which aims to confront the difficulties of applying BIM for QS, be they technological, attitudinal, cultural, or organisational. Dr. Lu is an Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and has been involved in BIM research for more than ten years.

 Mr. Lai is running one of the biggest QS firms in Hong Kong and Mainland China. A fervent member of the BIM community, he is keen to implement BIM in his firm’s daily operations to enhance productivity, make QS works less tedious, and improve the image of the profession. Fresh and full of curiosity, Mr. Tse is a graduate of HKU and colleague of Mr. Lai. He leads the firm’s strategic BIM development, in addition to his work conducting conventional surveyor tasks. 

The team thus has a unique blend of flavour by accessing into both academic and practical thoughts. This book is the result of close interactions between us, the author team, and with the industry, government departments, and professional bodies.

 This book has ten chapters divided into three parts. Part I consists of three prefatory chapters, which introduce the general background of construction cost management, BIM theories and hard technological aspects, and BIM implementation strategies and other soft aspects. Part II, also three chapters, provides the in-depth analyses of how BIM can best be implemented in construction cost management.

 Chapter 4 discusses BIM-enabled processes, culminating in a QS-BIM execution plan and its several critical success factors. Chapter 5 provides several real-life cases to further help readers deepen their understanding of BIM for cost management, not all of which are exemplary cases, but their faults, if any, still inform the reader

. Chapter 6 examines big data and how it relates to construction cost management. Putting aside the hype factor of this buzz phrase, in reality surveying companies often accumulate excellent big data. This ‘buried asset’ can be harnessed to better facilitate their QS business. Part III consists of four chapters, which mainly elaborate the challenges and prospects of BIM and big data for QS.

 Some good practices are recommended, the future of this domain is discussed, and conclusions are drawn. Although the book is about BIM, big data, and QS, its readership should not be confined to QS-related professionals only. Rather, we encourage all construction stakeholders to participate in the BIM revolution by realising the value of this emerging technology and applying it to enhance our built environment. In this sense, the book is not a conclusion of the past, not a beginning of a new future, but hopefully a small stepping stone leading to more ardent participation from all the stakeholders.