Outsourcing to the Machine: Leveraging Revit, Reducing Your Workload and Getting Back to Enjoying
In a career working at firms large and small I have encountered Architects who enjoy a variety of experiences related to the profession. Some enjoy design, while others get engrossed in construction details, but I have yet to encounter an architect whose passion is window schedules. In today’s profession there is always the option to outsource these less desirable tasks. Despite the up-front appeal of this, what you get back may not be ideal. I’ve seen this first-hand, with results ranging from tolerable to unusable. So what is the solution? Outsource to your machine.
Revit is that elusive Architect who seeks out every opportunity to take on monotonous tasks. Not only that, it can do them exactly the way you want, because you are pulling the strings, leveraging the software’s capacity for organizing data and documentation while using your professional expertise to do so.
If you are a Principal at a 600 person firm, you probably are never going to touch Revit. But if you are working at a 3 person firm and your two employees are already working 60 hour weeks, there are significant and immediate benefits to going from a 2D line based workflow to a 3D BIM workflow. It is as simple as a reduction of time, and I’ll illustrate three quick ways to use for it an immediate impact:
1. Get everyone working in the same file - Using a Revit central model is simple to set up and ensures everyone is seeing updates in real time. I would suggest utilizing the Workshare Monitor that is automatically installed with Revit 2018 so you can see when certain people might be syncing or are in the model. In future posts I will go more into best practices as well as low cost solutions to allow people working offsite to work in the central model. The first and most important thing is getting all team members to consistently re-sync every 15 minutes. If the team can get in the habit of pressing that one button every 15 minutes, it will save hours of headaches and overhead later on.
2. Revise it once to Revise it Everywhere – Revit’s name is a contraction of the phrase “Revise It”. Often what happens in 2D Cad software is that you redraw a section in one place, and then you need to redraw another to match, then a plan and several elevations and you are suddenly bouncing between numerous files, slowly witling down the inconsistencies. With Revit you can be sure that if you draw it in one place, it is going to show up accurately in another. Sure, you still need to clean up the graphics for your drawings, but the underlay is always accurate because it’s the same element whether you are looking at it in plan, section or elevation. In future posts I will explain how to use Revit for deeper model coordination both within the design team and with consultants. A quick way you can start leveraging Revit for this type of coordination is with stairs. For each stair in the project set up a 3D view using the section box tool. Label these views under a new view type titled “Coordination” so they are easy to find. Now whenever you are in a plan, section or other drawing and can’t quite understand what is going on with the stairs, you can split screen between these 2D views and the 3D section box to try and figure out exactly what the problem is.
3. Data Rich Models –BIM stands for Building Information Modeling. People (and firms) often make the mistake that it is simply about 3D Modeling and forget the Information part. Future posts will get into all kinds of creative ways to leverage this element of BIM. A great place to start is building wall types that accurately reflect their real-world construction. Editing walls is easy and if you get into the habit of it early on, it will ensure that your walls not only are embedded with a ton of information you can use for scheduling and detailing, it also means you will be modeling correctly from the start and won’t have to move all the walls 3/8” later because you didn’t give a 1” thickness to your 5/8” drywall.
BIM is intimidating at first. It is hard to go from decades in the comfort of 2D Autocad, where everything is a known commodity, to a whole new environment with a whole new set of rules. Yet if one is willing to take the leap, both in terms of growing pains and initial investment, the result is a new lease on your practice. Rather than spending countless hours drawing line after line in AutoCAD, you can focus on what’s really important to you, whether it’s design or in the details.