Goal: 4D Planning

Status of Use Document: Draft

Phase(s): Construction


  • Visualize and Interpret the project sequence / schedule
  • Manage schedule progress
  • Develop / visualize tenant phasing plans
  • Maximize productivity through the detailed evaluation of space, temporary facilities, and other resources
  • Simulate a detailed component installation procedure for communication to all team members
  • Effectively communicate project schedule during meetings to all team members
  • Increase learning curve for new team members by visually representing the project
  • Visually represent project to reduce different interpretations of project schedule from various team members
  • Explore the impact of design and construction alternatives
  • Optimize site logistic and site layout planning


4D CAD is an application that uses a 3D building model linked to a construction schedule to simulate the progression of construction over time.

Potential Benefits:

  • Reduction in schedule
  • Identify sequencing / schedule mistakes
  • Visualize project phasing
  • Marketability
  • Increase productivity through resource management
  • Increase quality through component level sequencing
  • Communicate design and construction intentions to team members
  • Reduce time to explore the impact of design and construction changes
  • Coordinate day to day construction activities with all parties

Levels of Detail Considerations:

  • Level of Model detail is dictated by intended use
  • Model objects that need to be visually represented in the schedule simulation
  • Geometry is important
  • Do not need intelligent objects for visualization

Team Competencies Required:

  • Construction Scheduling
  • 3D Model manipulation
  • Knowledge of 4D software

Potential Modeling Methods:

  • 4D Models are primarily built and controlled by the lead contractor
  • The 3D model used to create the 4D model may be provided by the design team, subcontractors, construction manager, or 3rd party

Potential Outputs:

  • Optimal schedule
  • Results to schedule impacts
  • Look ahead schedules
  • Phasing plans
  • Production tracking

Legal / Commitment Considerations:

  • Guarantee of accuracy may be a significant concern, particularly if there are small tolerances for future object installations
  • 4D Model may have schedule information that is internal to the contractor who may not wish to share with owner and A/E

Additional Resources:


Four-Dimensional Visualization of Construction Scheduling and Site Utilization

Quantitative Studies:


Case Study Examples:

Feasibility Study of 4D CAD in Commercial Construction
From 3D to 4D Visualization in Building Construction
Planning Construction Trade Flow: a Visual Process

Software Applications:

  • Scheduling
  • 3D Modeling
  • 4D Simulation
  • Navigation

  • Bentley Navigator
  • Autodesk Revit (Phasing only, not a direct CPM link)
  • Vico Constructor
  • Commonpoint Constructor (owned by Bentley)
  • Autodesk Navisworks
  • Integraph Smartplant Review
  • Synchro