The Benefits of Modern Measurement Software

Michael Whieldon
Despite technology permeating almost every aspect of modern life, the construction industry has not yet fully-embraced recent advances and the benefits that come along with it.

Over the years there has been much debate surrounding the topic of productivity within construction and the perceived inefficiencies engrained in the construction process. High-profile studies such as the Latham and Egan reports, released in 1994 and 1998 respectively, highlighted these issues with Sir John Egan noting in ‘Rethinking Construction’ a “deep concern that the industry as a whole is under-achieving.”

Both reports outlined potential strategies through which improvements could be driven, particularly through increased collaboration between parties and producing less wastage, that subsequently led to numerous changes throughout the industry in both legislation and mindsets. Although progress has been made in this regard, productivity performance in the sector is still a hot topic and the correct use of digital technology should be seen as a key driver in improving outputs. Nationally, the government has lent credence to this argument by mandating Level 2 BIM usage on public projects since 2016.    

Being a Quantity Surveyor (QS) by trade, the topic of measurement and the development of tools that are used to aid the estimation process are a keen interest of mine. As someone who has worked at both a regional QS practice as well as a global firm, I have been lucky enough to have experienced both the traditional method of measurement by hand (where a pencil, scale ruler and an array of highlighters are a must) and the more-modern method of using measurement software, specifically CostX, which is the favoured program for Faithful+Gould.

Although no tool is a complete replacement for the professional using it, measurement software such as CostX has quickly become a vital component for the modern Quantity Surveyor. Consistently delivering quality, time and cost-saving benefits, adopters of the technology are already seeing the advantages it can offer their business and the industry as a whole.

Although the purported time-savings in producing a measure electronically are getting harder to challenge, there are still those who refuse to accept that tools such as CostX are a practical improvement in the measurement process. Detractors often point to the up-front cost of such programs, in terms of both license fees and training. I would argue that regardless of business size, having staff trained and using the software correctly would lead to increases in long-term efficiency that would far-outweigh the initial capital spend.

These increases in efficiency primarily occur through using the technology to carry out the more time-consuming tasks in the measurement process. Perhaps the clearest example of this is found in the actual measurement of drawings; building plans can be scaled and quantified to the precise millimetre in two-clicks of a button, which - whilst taking less time than the traditional method - also provides a greater level of accuracy than would typically be achieved.

As the drawings are held electronically, this allows measurement to be carried out on even the most minute details, with no overlapping markings or notations causing confusion to anyone reviewing the measure. When measured correctly using CostX, it is also possible to live-link each measurement, allowing multiple collaborators to work together simultaneously on the same areas as well as giving accountability of what exactly has been measured.

This, in addition to allowing greater collaboration between the surveying team, also provides an environmental and economic boost for firms as it reduces the need for repeated print-outs of drawings. The time and accuracy improvements are also increased when measuring well-produced BIM models, as a simple click on individual components (such as internal walls and floors) can reveal accurate quantities and design information.

As with any tool, the benefits to its usage are increased as the user gains experience and competency with it. Some of the more-advanced features of CostX are the auto-revision and bill production functions. These tools reduce the time taken to carry out the repetitive processes of identifying variations between drawing issues and the production of Bills of Quantities. Thus, freeing up more time for the surveyor to carry out value-adding activities.

Although no tool is a complete replacement for the professional using it, measurement software such as CostX has quickly become a vital component for the modern Quantity Surveyor. Consistently delivering quality, time and cost-saving benefits, adopters of the technology are already seeing the advantages it can offer their business and the industry as a whole.

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