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Thread: Cost Estimation in Revit

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    Senior Member Charles Karl's Avatar
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    Cost Estimation in Revit

    I am setting up cost estimation schedules in a test model. Anyone have advice on what not to bother with and what has worked well for you? Third party software?

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    Senior Member Charles Karl's Avatar
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    I posed this question at the peak of the holiday season, so it may have been missed by those that have experience with cost estimating with Revit. My initial thought is to enter values from MSMeans into an exported revit spreadsheet from the template then push the values back to the families in our template. Therefore, any new project would have these values in place when modeling starts an will update in real time. Anyone with advice to consider?

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    Mr. Revit OpEd
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    An answer depends on who you're doing this for. It's been my observation that the most used software for cost estimating is Excel. I've not met an estimator that tackles their work in the same way as another. I haven't met a large number of estimators but those I have met are pretty comfortable with their system. If they are consistently accurate and reliable then that reinforces their trust in their system and process. In a it sense it is their intellectual property or unique product, their approach and their trustworthy results.

    I have seen quite sophisticated cost estimation inside Revit built for specific categories in schedules, like concrete slabs, footings, walls etc. The closer you are to the delivery and process the more likely you can produce useful values.

    You might start with Navisworks Quantification assuming it's already available to you?
    Last edited by Steve_Stafford; January 4th, 2019 at 06:07 PM.

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    Senior Member Charles Karl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve_Stafford View Post
    An answer depends on who you're doing this for. It's been my observation that the most used software for cost estimating is Excel. I've not met an estimator that tackles their work in the same way as another. I haven't met a large number of estimators but those I have met are pretty comfortable with their system. If they are consistently accurate and reliable then that reinforces their trust in their system and process. In a it sense it is their intellectual property or unique product, their approach and their trustworthy results.

    I have seen quite sophisticated cost estimation inside Revit built for specific categories in schedules, like concrete slabs, footings, walls etc. The closer you are to the delivery and process the more likely you can produce useful values.

    You might start with Navisworks Quantification assuming it's already available to you?
    This is for in-house use (for now) as we are always exploring ways of improving our firm, and since Revit has this capability, our thought is to see if we can deliver a better product by potentially providing this type of information in the future. Didn't know this about Navis, we have it and I will check into that as well. Thanks!
    tidalwave1 likes this.

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    Member aristide's Avatar
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    Some questions to frame this discussion : Are you a Contractor or a Designer? Maybe both? Are you responsible for doing the cost estimating, building the models, or producing the documents? All of the above?

    Revit is pretty OK for Quantity takeoff, but real construction estimates will continue to live in Excel until Autodesk does something with Assemble (maybe... but even then, still Excel).

    Linking Revit to Excel through Dynamo (or some other means) can be fruitful, but again, it really depends on what you are responsible for. It's almost like building a QTO model is different than a building a Design model or Documentation model. Not saying you can't do it all in one, but rarely would this happen.

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    Autodesk JeffH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve_Stafford View Post
    An answer depends on who you're doing this for. It's been my observation that the most used software for cost estimating is Excel. I've not met an estimator that tackles their work in the same way as another. I haven't met a large number of estimators but those I have met are pretty comfortable with their system. If they are consistently accurate and reliable then that reinforces their trust in their system and process. In a it sense it is their intellectual property or unique product, their approach and their trustworthy results.
    I have always thought of cost estimation as a "dark art" practiced by those who have sold their souls to the devil to get good results. I was always terrible at it when working as an Architect. I tried to get contractors I worked with to share some of the "secret sauce" but was never successful. I am pretty sure once you are really good at it you are probably about 64 1/2 years old and ready to retire anyhow.
    tidalwave1 likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffH View Post
    I have always thought of cost estimation as a "dark art" practiced by those who have sold their souls to the devil to get good results. I was always terrible at it when working as an Architect. I tried to get contractors I worked with to share some of the "secret sauce" but was never successful. I am pretty sure once you are really good at it you are probably about 64 1/2 years old and ready to retire anyhow.
    Actually I'm 69 1/2 years old and retired on 1/1/19. Sometimes one has to work with the devil to get the results that one needs
    tidalwave1, heaphala and JeffH like this.

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    I'm a designer consultant for AV systems. I show a type parameter "COST" in the family, then schedule the costs. I've made families that carry wire, labour and miscellaneous costs so they can be scheduled. Although the families that manufacturers supply also often include a cost parameter, I use my own.
    koolair and tidalwave1 like this.

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    Moderator Drew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Karl View Post
    This is for in-house use (for now) as we are always exploring ways of improving our firm, and since Revit has this capability, our thought is to see if we can deliver a better product by potentially providing this type of information in the future. Didn't know this about Navis, we have it and I will check into that as well. Thanks!
    So are you saying that your model will never be "issued" or "supplied" to an external party? If it will be, is this cost information OK to go out tot he wider world? My team keep these costs very close tot heir chest and we don't tend to share this with the outside work, hence we don't use Revit for costing.

    Another thing to consider with costing is this, will everything be modelled? if so, then that's great. if not your costing might not be as close as you would want it unless you have included amounts for non-modelled items. For example a concrete slab, are you taking into consideration, excavation, backfill, formwork, reinforcing, concrete, formwork strip etc does your cost rate include all of this? Also, how does this get controlled across different site conditions? Is this an instance or type cost parameter?

    This is where Navis can be particularly helpful as you can break these items down and use the modelled values to create the required quantities without having to model them, which is great. The down side is that Navis does not contain $$ parameters OOTB, you can map them from your file and create formula to calculate them, which can be time consuming. Navis is really a quantification tool which can export a great excel BOQ, which you can easily throw $$ against pretty quickly. It is not really an estimation tool. If you have a 3rd party plug in like iConstruct, this becomes a bit easier.

    Another question is, do the estimators trust the model? I have had a ton of conversations with estimators expressing concern that they dont feel comfortable about the model and how it was built / divided / categorised etc and prefer to break the file up as they need it (Level, zone, sub-zone etc), in our case using CostX or Buildsofts Cubit. This way they can interrogate the model and define what has and hasn't been modelled / included and adjust there rates and allowances accordingly.

    Like everything, there is no one size fits all and i hope this helps.

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    We use a text file to assosciate a code to the keynote identifier of the type.
    This is then scheduled, and exported to the economist who simply imports it into his spreadsheet that has all the codes priced out.

    These are standardised industry codes for the region, but the same principal could be used for in house and that way no one else knows what your codes mean without the economists/estimators excel file
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cost Estimation in Revit-codes.jpg  
    Drew likes this.

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