Implementing BIM: what you really need to know

Last week, for the first time in recent memory, I managed to get the first morning session of a Revit training course completed on time for lunch. It got me thinking about the way I present and also the quantity of content I try to fit in. I couldn’t put my finger on why I keep overrunning versus how I used get on time for lunch in previous courses.

Eventually, I managed to pinpoint it to a question that someone asked a couple of months ago. Someone was brave enough to interrupt within the first 15 minutes, whilst discussing model development, and ask me the following question:

“Aaron… At what point do we start adding information to model items?” (paraphrasing due to memory loss . . .)

The person asking the question wasn’t the BIM manager. They were just a prospective end user of Revit. From that course onwards, regardless of the audience, I always felt compelled to explain how BIM should be implemented. Getting through that explanation in itself is a monumental task, not to mention the task itself!  Clearly, this is what has been eating up so much time in my Revit training courses.  The message I always try to convey, though, can be boiled down this: Simply training in software is not enough. There needs to be a strategy!

A good example of what I am talking about when I say “strategy” is how to model economically in Revit.  Even though this is not something that we cover on our 3-day essentials course (not enough time!), it is critical to an effective Revit implementation.

So here’s my . . .

12 tips to model economically in Revit

  1. Avoid using railings for fences – or really any other reason apart from a railing.  When you do use them, use them sparingly. Although not highlighted by Revit, performance is impacted as it has to constantly regenerate every line of each baluster. For a long railing, consider using a basic family, using railing details/callouts to show a greater level of detail.
  2. Regularly review and fix warnings.  I’ve dropped nearly 20MB from a file on one occasion by fixing all the outstanding warnings.
  3. Remove unneeded Area Schemes/Rooms. Volumes/Rooms/Areas will always be trying to recalculate size every time you modify a wall.
  4. Avoid using a large number of groups. I have a personal rule of no more than 50. Model performance seems to drop around that number. Consider making it as a family or a linked file.
  5. It’s good practice not to let a project file get higher than 200MB (unless your workstation has the computing power matching Batman’s cave setup). Consider breaking them down and linking them.
  6. Don’t store images and renders in the project browser.  Export them when you can.
  7. If you’re squishing high quality logos in your documentation and title blocks, consider making a smaller version.  Otherwise, Revit will maintain the original file size.
  8. Make a basic drafting view your starting screen to improve opening times.
  9. Minimise view depth in every view. Elevations, plans and sections won’t be trying to load things they can see. (Plus renders won’t be trying to calculate lighting and reflections on surfaces they can’t see.)
  10. Unload links of all types if not used. You don’t need that 3D DWG any more as you have already turned it into a topo. Unload it!
  11. Host files that contain Revit linked models will consume more memory opening on upgrading than if you upgrade the links first. In other words, always upgrade the linked files before the host.
  12. Periodically, create a 3D view where everything is hidden, cycle through worksets, showing only one at a time. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find rouge objects in wrong worksets.

Strategy?  What Strategy?

Even though implementing Revit tends to affect all areas of a business, most people I meet tend to focus only on the “technical” side, i.e. learning how to drive the software.  But what about the operational issues?  Not to mention the strategic questions?  I have seen lots of examples of Revit implementations that have ignored these key issues. These early Revit projects – where there is no implementation strategy in place – tend to be like a ship without a rudder.  And often companies have no idea how much time they are wasting.

So what are the components of a Revit implementation strategy?  One that includes senior management, BIM managers , IT staff and lead users? Well, here are a few ideas:

  • An understanding of what’s required to deliver a BIM Project.
  • An understanding of BIM roles – tasks you need to plan for that may not be part of your CAD workflow.
  • Guidleines for a BIM execution plan – why is it important and what should it include?
  • Guidelines for project execution planning – if you don’t plan it, don’t expect it to work!
  • A knowledge of level of development – RIBA overlays.
  • A detailed Revit modelling guide – what to put into your model, and when.
  • An understanding of why BIM standards are much more important than CAD standards, and how you can implement them.
  • Guidelines for collaborating with external consultants.
  • Collaborative workflows – who will be responsible for model coordination, and how will that work?
  • A plan for your hardware and network requirements.
  • Understanding how to optimise your operating system to maximise Revit performance.
  • Deployment preparation and installation of Revit, including deployment techniques for saving time.
  • Understanding how to manage your Revit content to speed up modelling time.
  • An understanding of how to take advantage of Autodesk cloud services for rendering, analysis, etc.
  • Guidelines on avoiding Revit pitfalls – where projects can go wrong and how to avoid the mistakes of others.


Try fitting all that in before lunch!

My point is . . . . Simply training in the software is not enough. There needs to be a strategy!


Aaron Perry can be found covering these topics and others in Cadassist’s 1-day BIM Implementation Workshop, running in Manchester on 16 May and London on 26 June.

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