Revit: An Asset or a Cool Cartoon?

According to Wikipedia, Autodesk Revit is architectural building information management (BIM) software for Microsoft Windows, developed by Autodesk. It allows a user to design with parametric modeling and drafting elements. BIM is a revolutionary new Computer Aided Design (CAD) paradigm that allows for intelligent, 3D virtual rendering and parametric object-based design…

Revit: An Asset or a Cool Cartoon?

According to Wikipedia, Autodesk Revit is architectural building information management (BIM) software for Microsoft Windows, developed by Autodesk. It allows a user to design with parametric modeling and drafting elements. BIM is a revolutionary new Computer Aided Design (CAD) paradigm that allows for intelligent, 3D virtual rendering and parametric object-based design.

Revit provides full bi-directional associatively, meaning a change anywhere is a change everywhere, instantly, with no user interaction to manually update any view. A BIM model contains the buildings full life cycle, from concept to construction to decommissioning. This is made possible by Revit’s underlying relational database architecture, which its creators call the “parametric change engine.”

So what is the problem? Software is only as good as the person using it. In the building project rendering world the majority of people who are very good with the software have never built anything away from a computer. To date BIM has been used as a “conceptual” design program by the design industry, not a physical reality.

Where the disconnect takes place when the abstract design meets the actual construction model. Example: during design a simple factor such as king studs used to support a doorway not being able to get to the deck due to a section of ductwork that was allowed to be run over the top of the doorway cannot seem like a problem, but is significant in the field. I have seen mechanical piping run under a length of ductwork wider than the pipe rack supporting the mechanical piping. The piping cannot be supported let alone seismically supported.

Did I mention the cursed “seismic” word? How many times have you seen a Revit model of your project with 200′ long lengths of ductwork? In over 30 years in construction, I have never seen that in the field. If the model does not contain supports and an accurate representation of what it actually takes to build the project how useful is it? In addition, why pay so much to have it coordinated by a “design team” when it is still incomplete?

Therefore, it comes down to available experts. The truth is that Architects and Engineers try to hire the best talent available in the area to do the best job possible with an often-limited labor pool. Just having the ability to produce “Construction Design Visualization” does not mean it is accurate. The separation between “means and methods” and “conceptual design” can be hundreds of thousands of dollars to an owner or contractor. It can mean the difference in building or not building.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

The bottom line is experience in the field counts. Any Revit designer who has not gotten his boots dirty and swung a hammer cannot in actuality go from concept to reality. It is just a cool cartoon until the people in the field breathe life into it.

 

Revit: No Place for Amateurs

Let us look at the typical building information modeling services firm and how things are done. Typically, a CAD manager is hired to create all of the CAD standards that will be used in the firm. He or she will be given the design from the designer and create a “working” file to eventually be used in a set of construction documents or plans.

As they get busy so they will hire other CAD personnel at a lower rate of pay and count on the CAD manager to keep up on the Quality Control. He or she does their best but they are only as good as the team they have created. Designs are like moving targets. As soon as you get your sights on them, they move again. They are ever evolving. They always are changing. Even as the project moves forward, they still change making it sometimes impossible to accurately track. Sometimes questions are asked by the wrong person, about the wrong subject, to the wrong person making the delays in the process even longer.

Ever seen a design go out for construction that was not buildable? Me too. The consequence is a furious owner who has to pay more and a contractor who has to make it up by squeezing the subs. This is what happens when software trumps field experience.

Now it is time to build. I am the contractor and I do not know BIM. What do I do? Many contractors will allow one of the subs to draw the building structure (typically the Mechanical contractor) and coordinate around that. You agree to pay those more and have them lead the coordination process for you. Next comes a plumber who has learned how to draw the building’s steel, only to find a disclaimer stating this was not created by a structural engineer and is for reference only. Sound scary? It should. We are back to having the wrong person doing the work again.

Let us get past that, now it is time to coordinate the trades. So the sub who has the most interest in the process (typically mechanical has ductwork, mechanical piping, controls, plumbing, and waste) is put in charge of the process. Makes sense right? In 7 years of working in the coordination business I will not tell you how many times I have seen things added to a set of signed off coordination drawings that the non-mechanical trades were not aware of.

What is the solution? During design have an experienced team who are field savvy… people who know when a square peg does not fit into a round hole even though the program will allow it. Is it cost effective to redesign the model and re-draw the plans as much as a year later with possibly new personnel? Wouldn’t it make sense to hire experience in the first place and have fewer problems? Look for an experienced dependable team and collaborate with them. Redesigns waste money.

During construction, you will have an accurate construction project rendering to build off of. Allowing one trade to have control of the process can lead to litigation or damages later. Hiring an outside bulldog agency that knows construction and is qualified in all aspects of construction to build, supervise, coordinate, and manage the model saves money. Let the plumber do plumbing. An experienced coordination company with Revit experience will have no vested interest in the project except the successful completion of an on time, on budget project. In the long run, you get a better product, a better project, and a happy owner.

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