Birmingham City University (BCU) has initiated a £1.2m ($1.51m) research project aimed at saving the UK construction industry billions of pounds by leveraging AI.  

The project, to be carried out in collaboration with London South Bank University (LSBU) and Leeds Beckett University (LBU), will focus on redefining cost planning and management through the use of emerging technologies. 

BCU Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment pro-vice-chancellor, executive dean, and Professor Hanifa Shah said: “By fostering collaboration between academia and industry stakeholders, the project aims to drive tangible outcomes.” 

The UK’s construction sector is said to be experiencing financial losses due to cost overruns, with the economy losing £24bn ($29.76bn) annually as a result. 

This figure is projected to increase by 15% by 2030, according to the Construction Industry Training Board.

The integration of building information modelling (BIM) and generative AI (GAI) is expected to enhance productivity by 25%. 

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The research, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will also change the curriculum of BCU’s MSc Quantity Surveying conversion course.  

The updated course will prepare graduates with the AI expertise necessary for the evolving demands of the construction industry. 

BCU MSc Quantity Surveying degree programme director Dr Damilola Ekundayo said: “Our aim is to establish a costing process that takes less time and gives the client an accurate figure, empowering them to allocate budget and resources more effectively and avoid costly project creep. 

“By uniting our expertise across academia, construction and IT, we can make industrywide changes that bring construction up to speed with other areas of the economy, such as manufacturing.” 

This UKRI grant is part of a broader government initiative designed to stimulate economic growth.  

Professionals from BCU’s Computing and Built Environment colleges will team up with researchers from LSBU and LBU. 

The partnership is intended to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in transforming an existing BIM-GAI cost prototype into a fully developed product for the market.