Conceptual Planning, Estimating Becomes Highly Visual with 3D Macro BIM

A lot of Walbridge’s prospective customers have a gut feeling about what they want in a new office, higher ed, residential or manufacturing facility. But what they really want to know, before fully committing to design and construction, is “how much is this going to cost?”

Taimoor Khan

That’s where Walbridge’s Taimoor Khan enters the picture, literally. He is one of the first estimators in the Midwest to masterfully leverage the power of DESTINI Profiler, a powerful software tool from Beck Technology. It helps estimators quickly and concisely change, add or delete building sections, floor levels, and exterior facades in order to demonstrate how alterations affect project scope and budgeting.

It’s great to use, Khan said, with project owners who don’t have a lot of experience in construction or project development.

“What we create is a visual form of communication that is easier to understand,” Khan said. “It’s a communication bridge between the estimator and construction team, designer and owner. It allows us to quickly develop multiple solutions and it helps customers comprehend how adapting the different elements of a building or complex affects their bottom line.”

To demonstrate the point, Khan brings up a model of a 4-story office building on the screen of his laptop. He moves the structure around, changes the square footage of a wing, and even removes the top floor. The model shows how individual line items (in dollar amounts) change as he makes his alterations. Say you want to clip off $150,000, Khan removes items from the design and a tally on the screen shows the overall price has been cut by $150,000.

Project owners with multiple sites to choose from benefit when Khan works his 3D magic. On the computer he can set a planned facility down on two or three different sites. He can manipulate the model based on the topography of a particular location. As a result, maybe locating a new facility on a flat site makes more economical sense than building it on hilly terrain.

Of course, when a project proceeds further down the developmental pipeline more powerful and exacting software is used to fine-tune the final estimate. Hopefully, all of the work leads to a contract between Walbridge and the owner.

But for this early, conceptual phase, Khan uses DESTINI Profiler to provide clarity about potential costs based on a preliminary design and the owner’s vision.

“The ‘old school’ method of doing this was to provide the owner with a cost per square foot,” Khan said. “But giving them a number doesn’t tell the full story. They need to visually explore the multiple solutions we can create. We’re doing a far better job of this today with BIM and products such as Profiler.”

Taimoor Khan, LEED AP, is a Senior Estimator for Walbridge in its West Michigan office in Kalamazoo, Mich. He is a native of Pakistan, where he earned a BS degree in Civil Engineering from NWFP University of Engineering & Technology. After moving to the United States, he earned a Master’s degree in Construction Management at Western Michigan University. Prior to joining Walbridge in 2016, Taimoor worked for nearly 12 years in pre-construction/estimating and has experience in healthcare, higher-ed, K-12 education, office, retail, industrial, federal, recreation, and hospitality projects.