Upon release of the RICS UK 1st edition “BIM for cost managers: requirements from the BIM model” guidance note in August last year, Australian-based quantity surveyors continue to rely on international and peer network knowledge rather than any Australian guide for our profession.

The RICS guidance note has been crafted to provide assistance to the UK quantity survey/cost manager (QS) on how to derive benefits from BIM by using models rather than traditional measurement methods to produce quantities. The RICS looks at how the QS can meet the needs of the BIM project team in relation to delivering cost data within the model as it develops and how to improve the information particularly during clash detection stages. It also highlights the implications regarding gaps in the model data and the need for the QS to apply their knowledge to appropriately measure quantities that are not easily generated by the design team or do not conform to any recognised standard of measurement.

The guide falls short of its title and does not reference 5D specifically, but rather talks about measurement of models and it does not delineate between 2D and 3D measurement. There is no actual guidance on how a QS would propose any services and no direction is given if a QS was wanting to use this guide as a ‘how to’ tool. Similarly, it does not describe what a QS might require in a model.

The discretionary skills applied by high knowledge users are a key reason for involving the experienced QS in early stages of design to reduce errors and automate revisioning as the model progresses to developed design. The appendices within the RICS Guidance Note, whilst useful as a starting point to visualise BIM implementation, require more significant detail to be an effective cost plan tool for a project utilising BIM. This requires a much greater understanding of the various measurement software and their capabilities in relation to exporting model data, linking cost data with model data and revisioning with a high degree of confidence as the model develops.

Whilst simple in its content and not suggested to be positioned for high knowledge users, the guidance note provides a strong impetus for conversation around creating structured guidance for a 5DQS in order to demonstrate relevance at early stages of the BIM execution plan. As far as I understand, RICS and the PAQS are the only QS associations to have invested in this type of guidance for the QS profession globally.

How far should the industry guidance extend?

As a simple guidance note targeting the UK construction industry, the BIM for Cost Managers document seems to fit with the current state of that market. If we were to apply this to Australia, there would need to be more emphasis on the fact that you most probably won’t get the data in a nice classification code system/naming convention and that there is significant work to map through to suit the project and design parameters.

The Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS) is well positioned as the association most relevant to delivering the needs of the Australian QS profession and act as the conduit to launch 5D BIM as a critical element of the BIM execution plan. Any standards specific to the “how to” for a 5DQS would do well to be compatible with the Natspec National BIM Guide as a complete industry reference for quantity surveyors and project managers working in Australia.

It’s important that as an industry, both in Australia and internationally, we develop guidance to apply the agreed standards as the technology evolves and provide the wider understanding of how the QS role is impacted and benefits BIM projects. Internationally, standards and requirements still vary but the basic premise in relation to working with models is the same – a QS needs to apply their measurement skills to the design and resolve the anomalies associated with it in order to deliver accurate costs to the project team. The technology enables this to happen more efficiently and quickly at all stages of the design.