There is ample evidence to show that in the Spanish architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, implementation is underway of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) methodology, which is changing the way architectural projects are designed and managed in all their phases. This paper focuses on the quantity surveying practice, carried out in Spain using the newly available digital tools. Through a review of the existing literature and the qualitative analysis of four case studies (CS), it aims to define the key points related to the new processes, roles and skills required by quantity surveyors in this new paradigm of BIM methodology. The information collected from different sources was coded for its qualitative analysis. The findings from the research show that having a rich database and all the available information to design a three dimensional (3D) model are vital for enhancing the quality of the quantity take-off and a project’s cost estimate. From the findings, a new role emerges for the quantity surveyor as a cross-disciplinary profile needed to improve the process. In Spain, there is still a shortfall in knowledge levels of cost management software and the implementation of BIM, which differs in direct relation to company size and type.


The construction industry in Spain is looking to promote the use of digital innovation and the BIM methodology is leading the way. Implementing BIM in architectural projects (AP) and throughout a building’s life cycle implies a change of paradigm and a shift towards new collaborative models which, in turn, can help to attain “improvements in productivity and competitiveness” [1].

The publication of European Directive 2014/24/UE of 26 February 2014 on public procurement [2] gave a boost to implementing BIM in member countries of the European Union (EU). In Spain, different commissions were created in 2015 for the promotion and use of the BIM methodology: at state level, the digital platform, es.BIM Commission [3] and at regional level, the Construïm Futur Commission [4,5]. Law 9/2017 of 8 November foresees the incorporation of the European Parliament’s directives and, finally, Royal Decree 1515/2018 of 28 December created the Interministerial Commission to incorporate the BIM methodology in public procurement. The initiative of the government bodies to promote BIM is a key aspect to moving forwards with the implementation of this methodology [6].

In public construction works, the use of BIM to obtain quantity take-offs and estimates has grown in recent years, reaching in 2021 a level comparable with its use for obtaining plans, which had always been its most common use following the integration of 3D disciplines and visualization. In the projects that include BIM deliverables, those that are infrastructure-related already include plans, quantity take-off and estimates in 100% of cases this year (2021). However, the percentages that include this documentation in building projects are still well below this: 75% for plans and 63% for estimates and quantity take-off [7].

In private construction works, the use of BIM for obtaining quantity take-offs and estimates is still well below that of public works. General advantages can be seen in the BIM methodology such as the improvement in project quality, more efficient management and a more ordered workflow [8]. Nevertheless, there are still major challenges that need to be overcome. These are: a resistance to change, since people are unaware of the advantages BIM offers; the lack of interoperability between software, which leads to dissatisfied users; the difficulty in integrating economic data; and the lack of a collaborative, information-sharing culture, the latter being particularly difficult to change, since data transfers are still subject to restrictions, which does not help when it comes to working in teams [8].

Quantity surveyors are professionals specialized in construction costs and they are essential for a project’s life cycle costing, cost planning and commercial management, among other elements. [9]. The changes in the AEC sector is leading to this profession’s evolution into new areas of knowledge, such as data management, and to the development of new skills, such as the use of new technologies and soft skills, like emotional intelligence [10]. The quantity surveying practice is usually performed by architects or engineers. In this research, the professionals interviewed have this role in the company and are specialized in a particular area of the quantity surveying practice: the project cost in the design and construction phase.

Through the analysis of four case studies, this paper aims to extract the key points and difficulties in the process of obtaining quantity take-offs and cost estimates for projects, valuing the time invested and the quality of the data managed in that time, and also to ascertain what skills and knowledge the quantity surveyor requires for this new BIM methodology.

Section snippets

Literature review

After reviewing the existing literature, it can be seen that the biggest challenges addressed to date are mostly related with detecting what benefits and difficulties there are in the implementation of BIM in an AP modelled using 3D representation digital tools as compared with the traditional Computer Aided System (CAD) programmes. To a lesser extent, research has been conducted with the same aims, only related to the fifth dimension (5D) of BIM, where quantity take-off and cost data are


This research is based on a qualitative methodology where a social phenomenon is analyzed by observation, data collection, description and the interpretation of the results. In this case, it is a descriptive case study methodology, which has been key for research carried out into business management and companies’ technological development. It allowed us to describe the processes undertaken when performing a specific action using digital tools and reach logical conclusions [31], as well as

Case studies selection criteria

The four case studies were selected using the following criteria:


Project management firmsCompanies were selected that manage and design projects, for their subsequent comparison. The company sizes are varied, allowing for a result that is representative of the range of different companies in the AEC sector. The company had to have extensive experience in the sector (20 years minimum) and experience in BIM environments (4 years minimum) as can be seen in Table 1. The professionals selected for


The research confirms a strong correlation between the success of applying the latest cost analysis software in construction projects and the available data and each organization’s human resources. Having a good database, understood as the precise definition and systematic coding and classification of construction elements, when modelling the architectural projects, and this 3D model containing the information needed for the quantity surveying practice (measurement and cost), will lead to a

Sample CRediT author statement

Anna Baldrich Aragó: Writing – Original Draft, Conceptualization, Methodology Jaume Roig Hernando: Writing – Review & Editing F. Javier Llovera Saez: Supervision Josep Coll Bertran: Supervision.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or non-profit sectors.

Declaration of competing interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


The authors would like to thank the companies who shared the documentation from their architectural projects and participated in the interviews and questionnaires.

Authors: Anna Baldrich Aragó Jaume Roig Hernando, F. Javier Llovera Saez Josep Coll Bertran
More information in: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352710221010925

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