Automating generation of bills of materials from BIM model & Integrating BIM with mathematical algorithms to optimize material usage and minimize construction material waste

MSc. Student: Hongru Zhao

Partner Company: Civeo (previously PTI Group Inc.)


Time Period: Nov. 2014 onwards

Summary: Quantity take-off plays a critical role in projects' success, which is also the basis of cost estimation and control. The current manual process of quantity take-off from the blueprints is tedious and prone to errors, and the extracted quantities are not fast responsive to the project changes. As the scale of the construction project becomes larger, it is necessary to have a reliable and efficient quantity take-off tool. An automated quantity take-off add-on will be developed in the Revit®, a highly compatible program that allows the end users to perform quantity-takeoff by front-loading 3D models with material codes from a database, extracting all the materials quantities based on the codes, and transferring the quantities to an excel template in a certain format. The add-on can dramatically reduce the quantity take-off time from 2 to 2.5 hours to less than 5 minutes.


In wood-frame construction industry, lumber, sheathing and drywall are three primary materials, and they are also the top three wastes in weight among all the construction wastes. Based on a research data, for a 2,000 Square-Foot-Home, there will be 5,000 pounds waste of these materials generated. The reason is the lack of a method to cut the materials. A Revit API will be developed to collect information of sheathing and lumber, such as quantity, length and shape from Revit model, and combine all of them to optimize the material usage by providing an optimal cutting plan, which will maintain the waste percentage to a very low level.


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