Automation in Construction
A construction project requires collaboration of several organizations such as owner, designer, contractor, and material supplier organizations. These organizations need to exchange information to enhance their teamwork. Understanding the information received from other organizations requires specialized human resources. Construction cost estimating is one of the processes that requires information from several sources including a building information model (BIM) created by designers, estimating assembly and work item information maintained by contractors, and construction material cost data provided by material suppliers. Currently, it is not easy to integrate the information necessary for cost estimating over the Internet.
This paper discusses a new approach to construction cost estimating that uses Semantic Web technology. Semantic Web technology provides an infrastructure and a data modeling format that enables accessing, combining, and sharing information over the Internet in a machine processable format. The estimating approach presented in this paper relies on BIM, estimating knowledge, and construction material cost data expressed in a web ontology language. The approach presented in this paper makes the various sources of estimating data accessible as Simple Protocol and Resource Description Framework Query Language (SPARQL) endpoints or Semantic Web Services. We present an estimating application that integrates distributed information provided by project designers, contractors, and material suppliers for preparing cost estimates. The purpose of this paper is not to fully automate the estimating process but to streamline it by reducing human involvement in repetitive cost estimating activities.