4D Construction - Opportunity for Building Firms

The future of construction process management via 3D modelling and site visualization is here. The 4D BIM applications make it easy for each side of the project to understand the building and construction phases.

george nicola

By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

What is 4D Construction?

4D construction (a.k.a construction sequencing) is basically a 3D model with the added dimension of time to allow engineers, contractors, and construction managers to visualize how a particular project will be sequenced from start to finish.

With this, they can stay on top of everything that happens or is about to happen on-site by obtaining a detailed overview of the entire process.

4D Building Information Modeling, or simply 4D BIM, is beneficial for all those involved in a project as it aids in managing people and materials on the field.

Newer and newer dimensions just mean better and more efficient construction processes and workflows, radically changing the way we design, manage, and develop construction projects.

George Nicola (Expert Stager)


How 4D Construction Helps?

Regardless of the scale, 4D BIM scheduling techniques can keep your construction projects on schedule.

Another trend in construction and urban planning is creating digital twins of buildings, neighbourhoods or entire cities; we have written an in-depth analysis on this page

And now here are some ways 4D BIM can change your work for the better:

1. Better Project Planning

At a very early stage, you can already have an exhaustive image of how the project will flow from design to completion. Thanks to 4D BIM’s addition of scheduling data to your project information model, you’re taking any kind of uncertainty out of the picture.

Any stakeholder would like to prevent mistakes as much as possible and with a digital workflow made possible by 4D BIM, workflow clashes can be detected and re-adjusted before they even happen.

With this technology, everyone involved is always at least a step ahead with what’s happening on-site. Furthermore, stakeholders have a clearer understanding of what is needed at the moment and what’s coming next.

2. Refined Construction Scheduling

4D BIM helps engineers produce a realistic time frame for a construction project. This technology incorporates information such as lead-time, construction and installation time, interdependence on other products, and allowances for both drying and mixing periods.

For larger construction projects, this means the proper scheduling of materials, systems, and people. With a 4D model, the construction project’s process is monitored well so the planning of future steps comes easy. This can greatly assist project managers to work out when to buy materials, book equipment, and hire specialists.

Nonetheless, small-scale projects can still benefit from 4D modelling as this will give them a clear picture of their schedules, resulting in well-managed business expenses to improve client satisfaction.

Potential buyers will have an opportunity to see different ways to improve a house without hammering a single nail down or staging like a movie set. That process is expensive.

3. Improved Project Monitoring

Whether it’s a small-scale project or the complete opposite, keeping track of everything that happens on-site can get extremely difficult.

With the many aspects of the building process, tracking the entire thing with pen and paper will only prove to be a headache for the managing team.

In cases like these, it will be helpful to have construction sequence animation. With this, all materials and activities on the field can be recorded and tracked in a simple yet effective way.

This footage can be added to the existing 4D model and compared to the initial design. That way, project stakeholders can easily detect any deviation from the agreed plan.

4. Safer & More Secure Data & Construction Sites

Because all scheduling data is kept in a project information model, project managers and stakeholders can feel safer as valuable project information and essential data is much harder to be lost or stolen.

As for the safety of personnel on and off the construction site, construction animation sequencing helps in monitoring the progress of a project and boosts safety all across the job site.

With the visibility that teams have over the project and its materials, machinery, and workers, management teams can lead their staff accordingly and make the best decisions to keep them safe.

What Are the Benefits of 4D Construction?

4D Construction For Exteriors

With virtual staging, planning, and scheduling, commercial and residential projects have never been easier. These visualizations of exterior projects help in bridging the gap between the design stage and installation processes.

BIM modelling helps link the construction elements across architectural, structural, and MEP disciplines, creating a complete building construction sequence.

These construction sequences and fit-out animations can also be used as a marketing tool to help clients visualize and engage with your project.

4D Construction For Interiors

With the help of architectural CGI and design, interior fit-out animations can be produced to showcase a project more robustly and engagingly.

A 4D interior fit-out animation will also show all fit-out stages from interior demolition, MEPs to fixtures and fittings.

This will show the day-by-day progress of an interior construction project, creating realistic timelines and boosting client satisfaction.

When Is 4D Scheduling Useful?

You will see 4D most often used in the proposal process. This helps in winning jobs and confirming the baseline schedule. It also helps in safety planning, logistics, decision-making, and problem-solving.

4D scheduling is an excellent tool for tracking and controlling the construction progress. With it, you can export the 4D model on your device, such as an iPad.

You can go to the site, update the model, go back to the office and link it to your PC. After which, you can automatically update your progress.

Furthermore, you can use 4D for progress meeting discussions.

Unlike traditional scheduling, where you’ll have to take so much time explaining problems to make clear decisions, 4D scheduling makes it easy for you to visualize the problem so that you can come up with solutions quickly.

4D Construction Software

There is a handful of 4D construction software currently available in the market. The following three are some of the most widely used in the industry today:

1. Synchro 4D

Synchro 4D is a real-time cloud solution tool that is focused on improving the safety, productivity, cost-efficiency, and quality of construction projects through visual sequencing.

Some of its key features include: 

  • Comparative analysis
  • Capable of handling multiple baselines to compare actual performance against planned
  • Progress tracking
  • Resource management
  • Rescheduling options
  • Critical path planning and analysis
  • Resource and task usage reports
  • Email tools
  • Markup and annotate
  • Earn value analysis reports


Its price varies per region, but a practitioner license of Synchro 4D costs USD 4,000.

2. Navisworks

Navisworks is Autodesk’s collaborative work tool that is specifically designed for the management of construction projects.


Its most notable features are:

  • XML import/export
  • 4D simulation
  • Capability to track the status of clashes once they are found and resolved
  • Point/Line Based Clashing
  • Schedule linking from other project management tools
  • Export 4D simulations into a prerecorded .avi animation
  • Rendering capability
  • Create project presentations


Navisworks Manage 2022 costs around USD 2,400.

3. Vico

Vico Office is an integrated tool where you can have all your data in one place. It can be used for cost management, schedule planning, procurement, and change management processes.


Its key features include:

  • Location breakdown structure
  • Control chart color coding
  • Schedule can be inputted in Gantt chart or linear format
  • Quantity based schedules can be created to see bill of quantities
  • Resource histogram
  • Schedule forecast according to real progress inputs
  • Cost and cash flow capability
  • Capability for look ahead reporting


You can get a 30-day free license for Vico Office.

Key Takeaways

4D construction is here to stay.

With services streamlined and teams coordinating, collaborating, and communicating well, construction projects flow smoothly, and resources are optimized—resulting in an enhanced output.

Implementing 4D construction into projects saves valuable resources in terms of time and budget.

High-quality BIM-based design coupled with staff training is a worthwhile investment that will significantly benefit construction projects throughout their project life cycle.