IFC-Based Systems and Methods to Support Construction Cost Estimation

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IFC-Based Systems and Methods to Support Construction Cost Estimation

posted on 10.05.2021, 18:13 by Temitope Akanbi
Cost estimation is an integral part of any project, and accuracy in the cost estimation process is critical in achieving a successful project. Manually computing cost estimates is mentally draining, difficult to compute, and error-prone. Manual cost estimate computation is a task that requires experience. The use of automated techniques can improve the accuracy of estimates and vastly improve the cost estimation process. Two main gaps in the automation of construction cost estimation are: (1) the lack of interoperability between different software platforms, and (2) the need for manual inputs to complete quantity take-off (QTO) and cost estimation. To address these gaps, this research proposed a new systems to support the computing of cost estimation using Model View Definition (MVD)-based checking, industry foundation classes (IFC) geometric analysis, logic-based reasoning, natural language processing (NLP), and automated 3D image generation to reduce/eliminate the labor-intensive, tedious, manual efforts needed in completing construction cost estimation. In this research, new IFC-based systems were developed: (1) Modeling – an automated IFC-based system for generating 3D information models from 2D PDF plans; (2) QTO - a construction MVD specification for IFC model checking to prepare for cost estimation analysis and a new algorithm development method that computes quantities using the geometric analysis of wooden building objects in an IFC-based building information modeling (BIM) and extracts the material variables needed for cost estimation through item matching based on natural language processing; and (3) Costing – an ontology-based cost model for extracting design information from construction specifications and using the extracted information to retrieve the pricing of the materials for a robust cost information provision.

These systems developed were tested on different projects. Compared with the industry’s current practices, the developed systems were more robust in the automated processing of drawings, specifications, and IFC models to compute material quantities and generate cost estimates. Experimental results showed that: (1) Modeling - the developed component can be utilized in developing algorithms that can generate 3D models and IFC output files from Portable Document Format (PDF) bridge drawings in a semi-automated fashion. The developed algorithms utilized 3.33% of the time it took using the current state-of-the-art method to generate a 3D model, and the generated models were of comparative quality; (2) QTO – the results obtained using the developed component were consistent with the state-of-the-art commercial software. However, the results generated using the proposed component were more robust about the different BIM authoring tools and workflows used; (3) Extraction – the algorithms developed in the extraction component achieved 99.2% precision and 99.2% recall (i.e., 99.2% F1-measure) for extracted design information instances; 100% precision and 96.5% recall (i.e., 98.2% F1-measure) for extracted materials from the database; and (4) Costing - the developed algorithms in the costing component successfully computed the cost estimates and reduced the need for manual input in matching building components with cost items.


National Science Foundation 1745374

National Science Foundation 1937115

Dr. Jiansong Zhang's Start-up Fund


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Construction Management Technology

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jiansong Zhang

Additional Committee Member 2

Luciana Debs

Additional Committee Member 3

Anthony Sparking

Additional Committee Member 4

Yi Jiang

Additional Committee Member 5

Hubo Cai