Compatibility Between BIM Software and Cost Estimate Tools

A Comparison between Two Directions of Solutions



By Ying Xu

SKEMA Business School

Shanghai, China and Paris, France




Inaccuracy and redundant work are major issues in the cost estimating. The utilization of Building Information Model (BIM) can increase the efficiency and reduce some manmade errors. However, there are many BIM software, cost estimate software, as well as cost databases existing in different companies. All these platforms have different features from each other. It is still difficult to really realize the exchange of data. It is important to find out a solution to tackle this incompatibility.

This paper introduces the concept of two directions of solutions, “from BIM to cost estimating” and “from cost estimating to BIM”. It explains in detail the pros and cons of these two directions. By using a Multi-Attribute Decision Making Method (MADM), the two directions are compared in both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The result of the analysis shows that “From BIM to cost estimation” is a better solution. The key to realizing compatibility with this solution is to have a universally adaptable coding system.

Keywords    Compatibility, Building Information Modeling, Cost Estimation, Bill of Quantity, Material Take-off, Software


  1. The inaccuracy of cost estimation

Statistics show that in 2015, fewer than one-third of the projects managed to come within 10 percent of the planned budget Large percentage of projects are facing a problem of cost overrun. This shows that there is a large potentiality of improvement in terms of project cost estimation.

Table 1: Percentage of projects meeting budgets [1]

There are many factors that can lead to cost overrun. One of these is the inaccuracy of cost estimation.

Table 2: How do We Underestimate[2]

Take process industry project, for example, depending on the technical and project deliverables (and other variables) and risks associated with each estimate, the accuracy range for any particular estimate is expected to fall into the ranges identified (although extreme risks can lead to wider ranges).[3]


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Editor’s note: This paper was prepared for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director paul.gardiner@skema.edu.

How to cite this paper: Xu, Y. (2019). Compatibility Between BIM Software and Cost Estimate Tools: A Comparison between Two Directions of Solutions, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VIII, September.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pmwj85-Sep2019-Xu-compatability-between-bim-software-and-cost-estimating-tools.pdf



About the Author

Ying XU

Shanghai, China
Paris, France




Ying XU is a Master of Science student in SKEMA Business School, major in Project and Programme Management & Business Development (PPMBD). She graduated from Shanghai Maritime University and holds a bachelor’s diploma in Transportation Management. She has over 9 years working experience of which 7 years in a leading international engineering company in Oil and Gas industry, 18 months assignment on fabrication site of a mega LNG project. She has background knowledge about subcontract/contract management, proposal, and procurement. She lives in Paris, France now and can be contacted at ying.xu@skema.edu.


[1]Global Construction Survey 2015: Climbing the curve. (2017, April 3). Retrieved from https://home.kpmg.com/xx/en/home/insights/2015/03/global-construction-survey.html

[2] Butts, G. (2010, February). Mega Projects Estimates-A History of Denial. Retrieved from http://www.build-project-management-competency.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Glenn.Butts-Mega-Projects-Estimates.pdf

[3] Cost estimate classification system – As applied in engineering, procurement, and construction for the process industry. (2016, March 1). Retrieved from https://web.aacei.org/docs/default-source/toc/toc_18r-97.pdf?sfvrsn=4