Calverley Consulting LLC Project Management

5D Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Cost Analysis
By:  Melanie Calverley

Introduction to BIM Dimensions and More Specifically, 5D BIM

There are seven (7) core dimensions in Building Information Modeling (BIM), three (3) of which are considered geometric, and cost analysis is considered the fifth dimension.  5D BIM is a critical part of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), and we previously dissected the fourth dimension of BIM, the 4D scheduling concepts and practices, and how the schedule information is integrated to form a simulation of construction activities in a real-time model by using Navisworks and Primavera P6. BIM works in a way that each specific type of information that is introduced and specified into the model a different dimension is generated.

Here is a brief introduction to the core dimensions of BIM:

1D BIM – 1D BIM is generally the standard that is set at the beginning of the project. It involves process and governance, applicable laws, requirements, and contracts. This is where the research and the conceptualization of the project begins.

2D BIM – 2D BIM is a flat depiction of 2D schematics or 3D model drawings. The 2D schematic contains only the length and width, or the x and y axes. These drawings can be updated throughout the project and re-introduced to the 3D BIM dimension for updating to the project as a whole.

3D BIM – 3D BIM is geometrical and uses the 2D version of the models and creates a measurable, digital version that incorporates the measurements, calculations, and quantities from the 2D drawings. 

4D BIM – 4D BIM is where the project duration and timeline is introduced. This dimension integrates time and schedule into the project, and a set point in time can be initiated to dynamically visualize the past, current, and future status of a project. This enables the project team to conceptualize physical images of the project in various time phases throughout the project life cycle.

5D BIM – 5D BIM adds the dimensional layer of the budget and costs to the model to efficiently drive the cost estimation and budgeting processes. 5D BIM is extremely effective in generating cost estimates in the early project phases and then later for operational costs when the project is in the execution phase.

6D BIM – 6D BIM is referred to as the sustainability phase that focuses on facilities management. Sustainability drives information that supports facilities management and operations. 6D BIM focuses on the success of making a building or other structure a self-sustainable, safe, and energy-efficient entity.

7D BIM – 7D BIM involves operations and facility management, which is particularly utilized by owners and building management. 7D BIM is the dimension that tracks an entity’s status, technical specifications, maintenance logistics, warranties, operation manuals, and more. 7D BIM is critical in the later and execution stages of a project, and its primary goal is to regulate the project health and efficiency from its first day in operation until it is decommissioned.

5D BIM – Cost Analysis in Projects and Benefits

The fifth BIM dimension, 5D, integrates the information further with cost data by bringing in detailed cost information into the project. This cost data may include schedules, prices, and quantities. 5D BIM employs virtual, electronic models to provide a detailed, real-time 5D cost estimate. 5D BIM complements its previous dimension, 4D, by adding the cost component to the time model heavily used in the construction industry. 

The detailed cost information may contain various costs for equipment, material, and labor, and this information will be analyzed and updated throughout the construction life cycle. The purpose is to accurately estimate and predict the project’s Return on Investment (ROI), while the utilization of historical data is critical to this process. Also, 5D BIM will enhance the existing Bills of Material (BOMs) and Bills of Quantities (BOQs) from the organization. 5D BIM directly connects the costing and estimating process to the 3D models created in the earlier BIM dimension.

For example, a construction firm will employ the information from their 3D BIM model, integrate this with the additional dimensions of the 4D scheduling component, and then integrate the 5D cost estimation. This in turn promotes efficient management of any change orders affecting the project costs and schedule. 5D BIM can be generated multiple times to achieve the desired feedback and estimates.

5D BIM eliminates the constant re-work associated with the manual process which was previously the norm of the estimator. It helps to remove the guesswork from detailed and integrated cost analysis by utilizing historical cost data and information contained in the earlier model dimensions. As a project progresses, so does the revisions to the 5D BIM. If there are changes in a portion of the construction of a building, for example, the cost estimate will also be modified, while taking the updated calculations, quantities, time, effort, and associated and potential costs into consideration.

5D BIM is an advanced technology that produces better predictability of project costs, and it tracks and stores the variations of quantities of equipment and materials, as well as adjustments to labor. Along with the time-phased scheduling, 5D BIM aids in the future development of efficient construction.

5D BIM and Accessibility

5D BIM is accomplished with popular BIM tools such as Autodesk Revit and Autodesk Navisworks. The integration of cloud technology with BIM also grants project team members access to the data from countless locations on any device. Data connected among systems can be stored and uploaded, thus promoting global team collaboration and efficiency.


Utilizing 5D BIM in project management is an effective tool to minimize costs and future budgetary risks. The method continues to promote collaboration and efficiency across construction teams to produce self-sustainable and efficient structures while minimizing unnecessary project costs and overruns.

© 10/9/2020​

Original article by author, Melanie Calverley, first posted by Leopard Project Controls at:

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