Editor's Window: One is Not Enough

15 Dec, 2004 By: Sara Ferris

One is not enough

This month, Graphisoft plans to expand into the construction software market with a set of products for construction modeling, model-based estimating, and sequencing. The plan is more ambitious than the typical new product launch—Graphisoft hopes to cultivate a whole new specialty within the ranks of the construction industry: the construction modeler.

 Sara Ferris
Sara Ferris

This approach breaks with the idea of a single building model, a centerpiece of the BIM (building information modeling) approach to architecture. Much like a mechanical design assembly contains all the parts required to build a product, this building model would eventually contain all information needed for building design, construction, and ongoing maintenance. Data is entered once, then accessed as needed during subsequent phases of the process.

Graphisoft acknowledges that there are big differences between a design model and a construction model, so much so that the construction modeler is better off starting from scratch. The construction model includes recipes, which are lists of steps and ingredients needed to create an object, and methods, the stages needed to complete the object. So your basic wall recipe, for example, may call for studs, sheetrock, insulation, screws, nails, etc. This level of detail is not required in the architect's building model, and may in fact not be known at the time of the initial design.

Likewise, the sheer volume of details required to design and build anything larger than a garden shed could easily overwhelm the most robust workstation, especially when it's all stored in a single database that's being accessed by all parties involved in the design and construction process. And the Graphisoft solution nicely sidesteps the territorial sensitivies of a shared building model. Both the architect and the builder make their own models, so the traditional division of labor remains intact. The contractor is also free to choose to use a construction model even when the architect elects not create a building model.

Is it worth the extra effort required to hire and train a construction modeler and add a new element to the construction process? Graphisoft predicts that such a person, using Graphisoft's new products, can cut 2-3% of the cost out of every building project. It's no secret that the construction industry suffers from inefficiency. Estimates of waste range as high as 25% of any project, and a report from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) puts the annual cost of inadequate interoperability in the AEC industry at $15.8 billion.

Graphisoft's new products have the advantage of extensive field testing. They're based on six years of development and production by YIT Corp., a $2-billion Finnish construction firm. YIT also attests to real-world cost benefits. It now produces estimates in half the time (or less), and its quantities approach 99.5% accuracy.

Graphisoft Constructor 2005 (price is expected to be around $6,000, which includes Estimator 2005) is the tool for building a 3D construction model and linking it to the project schedule (which is done in an external application such as Primavera). Graphisoft Estimator 2005 (price around $4,000) performs both traditional and model-based estimating to help companies make the transition from traditional manual takeoffs to extracting quantities automatically from their construction model.

As 2004 winds down, we thank you all for your attention and support throughout the year. We're always happy to hear your thoughts about Cadalyst and your particular CAD interests, and look forward to continuing to serve you in the coming year.

Sara Ferris
Sara Ferris

Sara Ferris Editor-In-Chief

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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