CostX – Providing Fully Integrated 2D And 3D Estimating Software


Used around Ireland and in 70 other countries, CostX estimating software features a range of BIM compatible features which includes support for Revit BIM files and IFCs. The ability to automatically extract quantities or manually measure from the model is another important feature, as is the ability to add information (such as QS-ID information) to the model, ability to link 2D drawings to the BIM and more. In addition, a variety of 2D drawings (scanned, PDF, CAD and more) are still supported.

CostX is made by Exactal and is used by quantity surveyors, builders, subcontractors and estimators, from companies both large and small. According to Simon Lovegrove, Director UK and Europe, one of the key reasons for the increasing interest in CostX is its ability to work with BIM. “The cost aspect of BIM is sometimes referred to as the fifth dimension – 5D BIM. Improving the capital and whole-of-life cost outcome is a major performance metric, so in theory the ability to access and manipulate the data in a BIM model for costing purposes should provide a powerful incentive for 5D BIM adoption. Despite this, the 5D workflow has been slow to gain traction mainly because BIM has incorrectly been perceived as the preserve of the design disciplines, and also because data models are often not configured in a way that suits 5D purposes.” CostX addresses these issues because it supports the industry standard BIM file formats (IFC and DWF) and allows the user to manipulate the data within the model to suit their needs, as well as add additional data and calculations. “What’s more, it’s important to recognise that the BIM workflow is not restricted to working only in 3D – much information is not modelled, but instead is added as details or notes on 2D sheets which are cut from the model. In CostX, additional quantities can be measured from these 2D sheets to augment the 3D data extraction and allow for the missing items. The 2D measurement system also means that CostX can support the traditional workflow so it can be used for both BIM and non-BIM projects, enabling its users to gradually transition to BIM.”


In a nutshell, using CostX for 5D BIM means you can process more data quicker, providing reliable cost advice within a much shorter time frame. This leads to better-informed decision making, which is what BIM is all about. Collaborating more closely with designers and owners in this way allows the CostX user to actively drive better cost and whole-of-life outcomes.

CostX is also used in over 60 universities/tertiary facilities throughout Ireland and the world to teach students about the concepts of on-screen takeoff and BIM. The high-level BIM compatibility along with the fact that 2D & BIM takeoff plus estimating is all supported in the one package, are key reasons for the CostX Educational Program’s success. Furthermore, CostX Educational licences are offered at no charge to ensure that students are given the best possible chance to learn with world-leading technology on their side.

Simon believes there’s a far higher level of awareness about BIM now compared to a couple of years ago. “This is reflected in the increased number of BIM-related enquiries we get for CostX. This will translate to increased usage over the coming years.” The UK Government mandate has had a huge impact on how BIM is perceived in the industry. “Prior to publication of the Strategy in 2011, our experience was that the UK lagged behind some overseas markets in terms of BIM awareness, adoption, or even level of interest. Thanks to the work of the BIM Task Group and other organisations, there has been such an effective campaign of education that the UK has now leapfrogged into a leading position. Together with the publication of standards such as PAS-1192 there is now so much information available that there is really very little excuse for anyone to be ignorant of BIM.”

If used properly, there’s no doubt that BIM produces better buildings. According to Simon, that’s why governments around the world have mandated its use. “With BIM, the design can be thoroughly tested in a virtual environment at an early stage, leading to improved outcomes, and stakeholders can contribute to a collaborative workflow to optimise the design in terms of design, construction, ownership and operation. The ability to interrogate the data model and easily run multiple comparative options means that the design can be resolved earlier and far more effectively than with traditional methods. What this all translates to is better informed decision making – and the better the data in the model, the more reliable the decisions that can be made, and the better the buildings that result.”

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