The Little Advancement of CAD Integration - Costs


After the death of SAICICSeveral Mexican programs took over this market, constituting one of the engineering areas that were first automated. I remember that sometimes I taught the cost course, and it was necessary to test different applications (available in those days), such as NewWall, opus, Champion and Neodata. The latter seemed better to me although it bothered me not being able to distribute it in my country because it required a week in Mexico; apart from not having the money, it seemed absurd to learn to use a program that I already knew how to use. For now Opus is catching my attention, lately it makes enough noise in AdWords to bite me to do a review any day of these ... but paid 😉

For now, for free, let's review the old story, how good these programs have been and why it has cost so much its integration with the CAD.

The need

A construction company, which withdraws the documents of a tender for an 8-story building and has two weeks to formulate its proposal, could dedicate the time of three engineers to calculate the quantities in the notebook, define the unit cost sheets in Excel, approximate cost overrun factors and make the most fair estimate. But if once the bids are submitted they are allowed a day to reformulate a new proposal, surely there would be serious difficulties to get it right without having nightmares about the probable margin of error.

The essential

In this, programs as mentioned above, all children of SAICIC do the same, create data structures from inputs:

  • Materials
  • Workforce
  • Subcontracts
  • Machinery
  • Tools

Then, they are ready for the construction of tabs of basic unit costs (basic), Which are later integrated into constructive elements (integrated), These are grouped within thematic lines of a budget (Games), And finally are tailored to the needs of an economic proposal (Chapters). That logic of Indexed matrix Is the same that they have implemented the all, going one step further the tree towards Projects, Additional needs have been adapted such as the definition of economic zones and different requirements of overhead factors that vary by country but have been parameterized (more than less).

I remember doing this in Lotus 123, it was to die for but very educational to understand the continental drift, hehe, of my patience.


As a next stage, the programs integrated complements to the basic unit cost module, the management of estimates for collection once construction began, a module for time planning with a critical path, inventory control and some other modules for management financial - managerial.

Integration with CAD

The best achievement that can be considered in graphic integration, although it has been very primitive, we can mention two applications that Neodata made:

The calculation of dynamic quantities

Although the form is quite archaic through attributes, it can be considered a good conceptualization of the Bim (Building Information Modeling) that is lately becoming fashionable. The best benefit is that the budget can be kept "semi dynamic", such that when changing the plans, a modification of the budget can be generated if you like. Also good is the application to the steel parts that sooner or later will be a headache for the master builder and the steel reinforcing contractor.

Neodata cad

The theming by attributes

In one of its modules called "home marketing", Neodata integrates a primitive GIS, where you can paint the lots according to the purchase status or economic solvency.

Neodata cad

In conclusion

I would like to say more, but there is not much else to see, not that it does not exist, but that its use has become popular. Finding a reason why this has not had much progress is complicated, it is not the extreme of the GIS for the painted maps and its divorce from the precise CAD. Nor can we deny that it is a superfluous necessity, CAD / CAM and specific cost programs for AEC have so many markets.

Looking for a reason, I can only refer to what in my Cappuccino moments I have deduced with those who smoke in C #, I remember that more than once we have left a visionary project in this field on the blackboard. While IntelliCAD and DataCAD have tried, we ended up concluding that the problem is the sustainability of the developments due to the instability of the most widely used vector standard (They cost a lot and last little). Although the dgn is recognized by many as more robust, the dwg is better known and the dxf is a ghost that everyone marries for the sake of unfaithful exchange.

Unless this changes, this dream will remain the nightmare that Quantity Takeoff has gone through, which despite being as old as Eagle Point and being in the hands of AutoDesk, is only available for the United States. It is curious that some Quantity Takeoff functions are integrated in Civil 3D, but we have seen very little implemented.

We hope that the consolidation of the Bim criterion that is now coming to the GIS and the Integrated work AutoDesk - Bentley can give greater stability to the standards; This should motivate the development of better applications in this area ... sustainable.

Golgi Alvarez

Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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  1. Neodata includes a series of programs for construction engineering. Both for unit costs, payroll control (spreadsheets), estimates, developments, inventory, etc.

    Full information and demo versions can be downloaded from the Neodata website.


  3. In total agreement, the .DWG format -without open specifications and changing each new version- is a brake on innovation and the advancement of graphic design programs.
    As has happened with the office, I hope that the public administrations demand open formats and antitrust.

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