An Ontology for Detailed Measurement of Building Works Using Semantic Web Technology

An Ontology for Detailed Measurement of Building Works Using Semantic Web Technology

Abdulrasheed Madugu Abdullahi (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria), Yahaya Makarfi Ibrahim (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria), Baba Adama Kolo (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria) and Fonbeyin Henry Abanda (Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJDIBE.2019010104
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Researchers have explored the integration of BIM and Semantic Web to solve the problem of interoperability, and key to the Semantic Web is an ontology of a domain. To address interoperability challenges associated to cost estimating previous studies are yet to consider ontologies based on detailed measurement standards for building works. This study develops ontology for detailed measurement of building construction works. A design science research approach was employed for the study, appropriate tools and BIM software systems were identified and based on that, a methontology was used to develop the ontology based on the Building and Engineering Standard Method of Measurement 4 (BESMM4). BESMM4 is the Nigerian Standard Method of Measurement that provides fundamental guidance on the detailed measurement and description of building works. To make sure the ontology is fit for purpose, a descriptive logic-based reasoner was used to syntactically check the ontology while a 4D BIM modelling software (Navisworks) was used on a case study building to verify the proposed ontology.
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Construction professionals are involved in procuring building works on daily basis. Effective procurement aims to provide construction clients with value-for-money projects. Key objectives include ensuring that accurate budgets are prepared before work starts and that the right price is ultimately paid for completed works. Measurement and valuation are fundamental processes underpinning these activities, and together constitute the central link between design and cost (Cunningham, 2014). Measurement is used by construction-professionals (Quantity Surveyors) throughout the development process to calculate the quantity of works to be done. The latest edition of the Nigerian Standard Method of Measurement was produced by the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors titled Building and Engineering Standard Method of Measurement 4 (BESMM4) and its application in the Nigerian construction industry was generally accepted by the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors’ National Executive Council that took effect from January 2016. BESMM4 provides basic guidance on the detailed measurement and description of building, engineering and industrial works for the purpose of obtaining a tender price, valuation for interim payments as well as a true basis for the valuation of variations for building, engineering and industrial projects (Murtala, 2015).

Building Information Modelling (BIM) offers tremendous potential in easing Quantity Surveyors’ time intensive functions by enabling automated extraction of quantities directly from 3D digital parametric building models (Mathews, 2011). Tremendous successes have been recorded in the application of BIM in cost estimating and quantity take-off (QTO) (Monteiro and Pocas, 2013; Mathews, 2011) with several BIM-based estimating and quantity take-off software developed such as the: Navisworks, Autodesk QTO, CostX, Innovaya, iTWO, d-profiler, Vico, ProjectWise Navigator, Bentley ConstrucSim, etc.

However, some of the QTO/cost estimating software do not support cost estimating using most measurement standards especially those from developing countries such as Nigeria, e.g. BESMM4. Thus, there is a lack of consistency in the cost estimates generated by BIM software that do not have a measurement standard for most projects including those in Nigeria. As a result, two or more cost estimates cannot be easily compared (Abanda, Kamsu-Foguem & Tah, 2017). Additionally, where the software contains a measurement standard, it is probably that of the country of design. For example, most Autodesk cost estimating products generally have US and North American measurement standards (Abanda et al., 2017) not Building and Engineering Standard Method of Measurement 4 (BESMM4). Finally, for the few software that contain standard measurement catalogue, they cannot be effortlessly reused with a different software or by professionals for any knowledge acquisition activity due to interoperability challenges, since the catalogues are either hidden within the software and / or are included within the set-up folder (Abanda et al., 2017).

More recently, efforts by researchers (Pauwels, Zhang & Lee, 2016; Niknam & Karshenas, 2015; Abanda, Tah & Keivani, 2013; Venugopal, Eastman, Sacks & Teizer, 2012; Yang & Zang, 2006) revealed a potential in integrating BIM and Semantic Web for improving many construction activities including cost estimating to solve the problem of interoperability.

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