The acquisitions winds are blowing again in the construction industry, which could indicate the market is beginning to bounce back. This week, RIB Software AG, www.rib-software.com, Stuttgart, Germany, announced the acquisition of MC2, www.mc2-ice.com, Memphis, Tenn.

In the world of construction technology, BIM (building information modeling) is a phrase that comes up more often than not. But rather than just using technology to build models and do clash detections, technology providers are developing (and acquiring) technology that allows contractors to do more than just modeling. Advances in software are rapidly enabling the 4D (scheduling) and 5D (estimating) aspects of BIM that industry stalwarts have been touting since the early days.

As BIM becomes bigger and companies such as RIB Software acquire tech providers such as MC2, this could indicate the market is heading toward an era where the estimate is tied closer to the model.

But what exactly is 5D estimating? Simply put, it is tying the model to the cost estimate and being able to take all of the objects defined in the model and accurately estimate the entire cost of the project.

This week’s acquisition will allow RIB Software to integrate MC2’s ICE (Interactive Cost Estimating) software into its iTWO solution, which focuses on 5D planning and construction through an interactive modeling process.

According to RIB, the acquisition is part of its strategy to establish its technology through the extensive MC² customer network in the U.S. market. The company’s aim is to migrate top U.S. construction firms to iTWO.

While the acquisition appears to be a good way for RIB to gain a greater foothold in the U.S. market, it is hard to ignore the trends surrounding recent BIM acquisitions and what this ultimately means for the construction industry.

This is not the first acquisition in the realm of cost estimating. In July, Trimble, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., announced its plans to acquire WinEstimator. WinEst’s Modelogix allows capital project owners and contractors to develop conceptual cost models based on a cost-history of data from multiple different sources, integrating past estimates and actual project costs to create an accurate conceptual budget.

The product now being under Trimble’s belt opens up a realm of new possibilities for how Modelogix can be used. For example, the ability to share estimating information with project management (from another Trimble company, Meridian Systems) could allow teams to integrate cost information with actual costs throughout a project.

Not to be ignored is the fact Trimble has also acquired Tekla and SketchUp, two very useful products that many consider to be top-notch solutions for their particular niches in the BIM software landscape.

As BIM becomes more widely accepted among owners, GCs (general contractors), and subcontractors, the construction industry is entering a phase that might be best described as next-gen estimating. Two cost estimating tech providers have now been acquired by companies that have a stake in BIM.

As estimating (the 5D of BIM) becomes further tied to the model it will be interesting to see what impact it has on standalone estimating products. Will estimating soon be more fully integrated into the modeling of the building? In terms of the larger, more robust estimating systems: could we soon see a time where they are all acquired? Time will tell. But one thing is likely—the acquisition winds probably aren’t done blowing through the construction-technology landscape.