Explaining BouwData - part 2

What did I learn in that fancy office of mine ? Well, only knowledge on a very detailed level.

Why ? The content of every box was different. Of course, I hear you thinking: it's another building ! But it would have made my life easier if every architect delivered a bill of quantities with a simular structure. Like they do in Holland. There, if you see the number 22 every estimator of every contractor knows it's about masonry. I, on the other hand, always felt like a detective the first days when the box arrived: was the doorframe to be included in the price of the door ? If not, where could I find it in the quantity take off ? And needed it to be painted ? If yes, where did I have to put that price ? Together with the doorframe or was there a separate item for it ?

Imagine our accountants all working according to their own set of rules. And imagine you switching to another accounting firm. All the figures which ment something for your previous accountant would be worthless for the new one because he uses a different system of analysing your books. And what about the government ? Annual balance sheets of every accounting firm would look different ! Impossible, you think. Well, that's exactly how our Belgian construction industry works : every architect has his own way of making a quantity take off.

Are they to blame for not organising themselves better ? I don't know. There are some documents available but they all have a narrow point of view. E.g. the VMSW has it's focus on social housing. Therefore it is not suited for e.g. a factory building. And the coding system they use is not related to any Standard. 

Which brings me to the real bottle neck. Why ? 
Let me start by explaining the different viewpoints you can have on a building.

First there is the developer. This guy - or lady - is interested in selling the property. So, if the prices of car boxes in a basement don't exceed the cost of the basement, he won't bother to build it. What else does he wants to know ? How many gross floor surface he has to built and how many square meters of it mean a profit when selling.

Then we have the designer. He - or she - wants to create something for mankind, something to be remembered by. But often the design of his dreams costs too much. So the designer has to skip things. What if he removed that window out of the model ? Costwise this means that not only the window has to disappear but also the beam above, the plasterwork on the sides, the sill on the outside, the tablet on the inside, the occasional ornament around the window in the facade,...

And the constructor ? He doesn’t care about the things above. He needs to do some purchases: concrete, reïnforcement, coffrage, bricks, mortar, … and he needs to make an evaluation whether he is going to work with his own laborars or with subcontractors. Very different than making an investment plan or modelling the best design !

So, if you let all of this people make a list of articles to tender, it will have a very different structure, depending on the knowledge it needs to generate.

For decades we held on to the single tree structure assuming that the headlines will give the investor the knowledge he wants, assuming that the subtitles will generate the costs the designer needs for swift changes and assuming that the detailed description will deliver a full shopping list for the contractor.

This is simply not true ! 

So, in 2008 I got some money from IWT to create an accounting system for the construction industry. Since then BouwData evolved from just a coding system to a working method based on existing Belgian and Dutch Standards, to control costs, quality and communication in all phases of a building: from early consideration to invest over design and construction to use and demolition. And I do this by 8 sets of agreements which I am going to explain one by one in my next blogs. So keep following me :o)


Kind regards,