002 – Training: Craftsmanship in a Model

Let’s talk about craft for a minute. As a BIM professional working in the AEC Industry, I am fully aware of the belief that computers and especially BIM are bringing about the end of craft and thoughtful design. First of all, don’t make me laugh, a Building Information Model requires a higher degree of craft and thought than hand drafting or CAD ever could. Should you decide to make the transition to BIM, leave your “fake it ‘til I make it” attitude at the door, we don’t want that bullshit here.

That being said, there is a major shortage of craftsmanship in BIM right now. This is largely due to a lack of training on the construction and revising of models. When you teach someone how to build a model out of chipboard, you make sure they know to replace their blade regularly and always use a straight edge. The same concept applies to a Revit model. One must know their tools before they can be expected to create something with them.

So here we are, back to the astronomical role of information in BIM. Any model created using BIM authoring software is going to contain information, the amount of which is driven by the Level of Development that is established at the beginning of a project. However, the accuracy of the information is imperative to model efficiency and appearance.

The elements in Revit are parametric, this means that the relationships between them are defined the by data included in each element. These parameters are what enable us to manage the model and drawings through schedules and tags quickly and easily for the duration of the project. Parameters also affect the geometry of the model in ways that can be difficult to recognize without an understanding of the principals of parametric modeling. As a result the drawings produced may not meet the graphic standards we are used to seeing from CAD drawings.

An example of a parametric error that causes an undesirable drawing result is incorrect wall joins such as the ones seen here.





These are the result of improperly assigned function to the layers within the wall structure. Further information on function of layers can be found here.

Now before you accuse Revit of making things too complicated, think about this. The waterproof membrane on an exterior wall has to remain continuous in order for it to be truly waterproof. The 1” layer of gypsum board on a shaft wall cannot be penetrated and maintain the required 2 hour fire rating. This is Revit’s way of asking, “on a scale of 1 to 5, how important is this layer to the overall function of this wall?”

Craftsmanship is the result of thoughtful attention to detail. Building Information Modeling forces designers to consider the function and purpose of each project element to make a conscious decision in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of the end user.

001 – They Call Me the BIMforcer

There are countless factors that affect the success of a BIM project. This blog is not to provide tutorials on troubleshooting Revit or content creation, although I will share my experience in those areas if I think it will be beneficial. My intent is to help BIM users have a better understanding of how a building information model is expected to operate in the modeling software, and throughout the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process.

BIM collaboration is unique in the fact that we actually depend on the work of the entire design team to complete our own drawings. A CAD workflow allows for one designer to manipulate another’s drawings to meet their needs. While that is possible with BIM, any changes made can only be temporary and run the risk of a coordination error spanning the entire project.

I have outlined here a basic description of what I consider when implementing BIM into a project.

Collaborative Workflows:

A collaborative workflow is an inherent factor in any BIM project, by utilizing collaborative tools and methods we can leverage IPD to actively employ the expertise of the of every member of the project team.

Benefits of collaborative workflows: 

  • Reduce duplicated work efforts (Architect places the plumbing fixtures, Plumbing engineer uses those same fixtures to design the plumbing systems.)
  • Reduce conflicting information in Construction Documents (Architect revises the plumbing fixture layout, Plumbing engineer sees the revision and updates his design.) 

Considerations for collaborative workflows:

  • Model Element Responsibility
  • Communication platforms (Revit Communicator, BIM 360 Team Discussions)
  • Shared Project Schedule (BIM 360 Team Calendar)
  • Coordinating with disciplines using CAD
  • Clash Detection

Systematic Information Management:

A Building Information Model is only effective if the embedded model information accurately reflects the final constructed building, systematic information management in a collaborative platform will reduce the risk of uncoordinated model data.
Benefits of systematic information management:

  • Shared platform that contains any information that is relevant to any aspect of the project (excluding sensitive information). If I could never download a file from an email again I would die happy
  • Prevent work delays due to a lack of communication. Such as forgetting to include it someone on an email.

Considerations for systematic information management:

  • Administration of a collaborative file sharing platform (I recommend BIM 360 Team)
  • Folder structure, organization and maintenance. A shared platform cannot be used like a personal desktop. There needs to be a clear place for all information.
  • File naming conventions are invaluable. I use a list of “codes” that should be used and designations for each discipline. (I.e. Civil is 01 because they are the first discipline in a set)
  • Archiving protocol

Comprehensive Modeling Plan

In a model that multiple people are working in simultaneously, establishing a detailed modeling plan can reduce a lot of heartache further along in the project. The key to developing a comprehensive plan is to look beyond the 3D modeling and focus on how the information will be integrated into the model and how it will stay up to date throughout the project timeline.

Benefits of a Comprehensive Modeling Plan

  • Quickly collect information from the model without having to leave the model or model viewer. I keep coordination schedules for almost everything including material notes, wall types, detail components, etc.
  • Create a clear model construction based on the project information. (I.e. If you are working on a hotel and you want to group the guestroom types what elements will be included in the group?)
  • Promote production and collaboration for optimum design results.

Considerations for a Comprehensive Modeling Plan

  • Level of Development requirements
  • Expectations for each phase of the design schedule
  • Naming Conventions for views, schedules, families, groups, assemblies or anything else in the model
  • BIM uses established at the beginning of the project. Will you be doing any sort of analysis? If so be sure to include a way to integrate this information.