This is a simple guide on getting started with CostX. I use the education license version for this guide so that this will be useful for both students and new users. However, it should be noted that this guide and other video tutorial alone are not sufficient to learn CostX. I recommend you to refer CostX Manuals, which you can download from Exactal Tech website.

Start CostX from [Start] > All Programs > Exactal > CostX. If this is your first time to use in your PC, you will be prompted to insert license details. Complete the licensing by providing correct details. Otherwise or after this, you will be prompted with “select building” window. Here you can select an existing building, or create new building or even a new project.

However, before you start using CostX, there are few options you must set first to properly customize the programme to your organization standards and your preference. View this video to see how the initial customizing is done.


( Note that this video was created sometimes ago using an early version of CostX )

CostX stores data in Project > Building hierarchy. A project can have number of buildings. For example, University of Mortuwa project can have few buildings: Lecture Theatre A, Library, Playground, etc. Note that cost and other information are saved to building file. Therefore, to work with, you need building file and therefore each project must have at least one building.

Education version does not allow creating new projects. Therefore, start New Building; give a name for the building (e.g. New Building), select Default Project from the dropdown list next to Project. Check the Base UOM (Unit of Measurement) in bottom; set to in what you want to take quantities off. For example, if you use SMM7, this should be Metres.

Do not bother about the rest of the fields for the moment. Click Insert. CostX will open dimension view by default.  On top part of the screen is the ribbon which groups functions into five tabs. The idea is similar to use of ribbon in Microsoft Office packages. In top-left corner is the CostX button giving you access to files operations and system administration. In left of the screen are information and dimension panels. The large area left is for displaying drawings.

Adding Drawings

CostX supports wide variety of drawing types from raster images of hand drawn sketches to intelligent BIM Models. Read this to learn more about drawing formats.

To add a drawing, click on Drawings tab on the Ribbon to open functions related to drawings. Click Add button on the left corner; note that if you click on little down arrowhead in the button, a drop down menu appears. Select Add Drawing. Brows to the file and open it.

Drawing Properties window will open. File name is used as the default name; you can modify this to something that you can easily identify the drawing. Adding drawing register details is optional at this point. Check the Base UOM; this is the drawing’s base UOM (and not CostX building files you set in the begining) which has been used by the producer (Architect, Engineer, etc.) of the drawing.

Default measure mode will be automatically set by CostX to optimal mode the drawing can support. However, you can change this at this point or later when you are familiar with it. Click Insert.

Once a drawing is added, it is important to check the scale. Use the Measure Distance from Drawing Tools box on the Ribbon to measure a know distance. If the scale appears to be wrong, calibrate the drawing as explained in Measurement video tutorial (in measuring PDF drawing part).

Add Dimension Groups

CostX measurements are recorded in Dimension Groups. A dimension group records dimensions of a property or type of object that we measure for estimating purpose. For example 225mm thick brickwork wall in cement sand motar; we may find this type in various places in the drawing and all dimensions can be added to a single dimension group, e.g. 225TK Brick Wall. Once measurements are taken, you can use them for multiple work items, e.g. plastering and painting.

To add dimension groups, click on Dimensions tab on the Ribbon. Click Add button (and Add Dimension Group). Give a name (e.g. Bedroom A), Give a folder name (e.g. Rooms) to group dimension groups together in a meaningful manner. Note that folders are collapsible in dimension groups panel so that you can collapse only the folders you want to view dimension groups.

Select measure type (e.g. Area). Note that vertical elements such as walls are measured in Length. I such instance you can define Default Height to get the area when required. You can set it here (e.g. 3.00). Don’t worry, if the heights of some elements deviate from this, you can change it to correct values once you take the dimensions. Click Insert.

When you add more dimension groups, you can select the folders already created from the drop-down list. To add new a folder, just type in the new name to the Folder. How to add dimensions to dimension groups is shown in Measurement video tutorial.