Project completed in 2024
Level: Ph.D.

Development of an ontology-based BIM full-cost estimating approach for mastering the financial implications of construction strategies


In the critical environmental and economic context in which we live, it’s becoming important to rethink and design construction projects holistically. With this in mind, this doctoral research project focuses on the global cost approach, which is a financial estimation approach that takes into account all the costs of a building’s life cycle, going beyond the simple investment cost. This approach provides an overall view of an asset’s costs, and therefore represents a potential means of controlling investments and expenditure, as well as the benefits derived from asset-related activities and socio-environmental impacts, in other words, externalities. Thanks to whole-life costing, owners can know the real value of their real estate assets and make more sustainable choices, but the approach is still rarely used in projects due to its uncertain nature.

Project results

The aim is to create an artefact that will encourage and promote the use of whole-life costing in current practices, consistently following the adoption of BIM to reap its benefits. The desired artifact is a BIM-based global cost approach, which will capture the requirements and processes needed to perform a global cost analysis at each phase of a project’s lifecycle. The artifact we’re planning is a method that will offer a dynamic CG approach for building construction projects. The artifact will provide a guideline for using the CG as a tool to support building projects throughout their lifecycle, in other words, it can be seen as a management tool. The method will be based on the ISO 15686-5:2017 standard to limit the disparity between the different ways of doing things, and will thus offer a solution that can be used by the greatest number of people.
The artifact will be based on an ontology that will provide all the knowledge needed to carry out the calculation. The artifact must therefore be able to estimate life-cycle costs, and include a risk analysis for the planning, implementation and operation phases. Once the result has been obtained, the calculation must be able to correct itself for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise during the project. To achieve this result, we will propose a redefinition of the overall cost process today, reflecting the industry’s actual level of maturity with regard to this approach. We will then propose a methodology for assessing companies’ internal resources in order to establish their needs for adopting the global cost, supported by BIM or not. Finally, we plan to propose an approach based on OpenBIM to offer an overall cost approach with BIM.

Project contributions

This research will help to promote the full-cost approach in projects, so that its benefits can be put to good use. The adoption of whole-life costing in construction practice will offer significant advantages in terms of better decision-making and investment control, leading to more sustainable, higher-quality buildings. What’s more, this approach is proving to be a lever for the application of sustainable concepts, in particular that of the circular economy, which makes it possible to justify investments. In terms of research, the creation of a global cost ontology will enable us to propose a semantic knowledge base that can be shared and exploited for future research, but also for real projects in any industrial field that might find the approach of interest. We will develop and test the use of ontologies in the BIM context, which should facilitate the integration of the approach.


Publications from this project are available below:

Yousfi, A., Poirier, E., & Forgues, D. (2022). Exploring the synergies between Life Cycle cost / Whole Life Cost and Building Information Modeling: A Systematic Literature Review. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, Volume 1101, Planning, Partnership, and Law. DOI: 10.1088/1755-1315/1101/5/052011

Research team

The project team :


The project team


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