So You Want to Implement Revit?

July 31st, 2011

The key to becoming a fully implemented Autodesk® Revit® firm is really quite simple.  In a single word: "Mindset."   Dedicate yourself to becoming a Revit user, and it will happen.  Of course, there are other practical things that you should do as well—training, for example. While getting up and running and becoming productive can go rather quickly, full implementation should take about two years.  You have a lot to learn in that period.  With a little help from George Lucas and perhaps Walt Disney, this article will help you set a path from Revit Initiate to Revit Master.

Learn The Tools

While Revit is different from CAD in that you a making a 3D virtual model of the building instead of a series of 2D images, there are similarities.   The most important similarity is this; Revit is a drawing tool that can be used to present your ideas (the design) to others.  Be it an owner, the bank, the contractor, or the end user, most everyone who will view your design will be viewing it on paper or some similar 2D medium.   No matter what you're putting together, think about the 2D presentation.

The most significant difference between Revit and CAD is the set of tools for making the drawing.  In Revit, you are literally building a 3D virtual version of your building, based on general objects such as walls, floors, ceilings, and roofs.  This means that you have to learn the tools to create each of these objects.  In CAD, you have a set of lines that can represent anything.

This leads to your first revelation. It's the truth about Revit that nobody mentions.  Every object made in Revit is made in a different manner.  "Why is this important?" you may ask.  Once you know this, you'll know the scope of what you need to learn in order to advance from a Revit Padawan to a Revit Knight!

Since every object in Revit is made in a different manner, you must learn a new technique for almost object that you make. Think about all of the different objects that get made for a Revit model: walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, sweeps, foundations, soffits, columns, fascias, windows, doors, pilasters, ramps, stairs, railings, and so on.  Yet with all of the different skills to learn, I would admit that I wouldn't change a thing.  The objects creation process is very efficient and will become second nature with a little time. Now that you know this little secret, you are ready to learn.

There are many sources of training.  You can take a class at the local community college or post secondary school.  Your Autodesk reseller probably has resources for learning as well.  And don't forget the books you can get from the library or all of the YouTube videos.  There are a plethora of opportunities for you to grab, seize, and conquer.  Use them all!

Use It Or Lose It

After training, we all ask, "What do I do now?" The training was the easy part.  The boss is going to come up to you and ask for a drawing "right away."  You're first instinct will be, "I can get this task done much quicker with the old standby."  Trust me, we've all fallen into this trap.  And when I say "trap," I truly mean it.  Once you open AutoCAD to start drawing this simple little diagram, you will find it very difficult to successfully implement Revit.

Most of us forget that Revit has 2D tools as well as the 3D tools.  At a minimum, when you are faced with the challenge of producing a drawing or sketch "right away," open a drafting view and use the tools that you're given.

You will be very happy to discover the drafting capabilities of Revit are far superior to the tools you had available in the old standby.  Unfortunately, you probably don't think that you learned them in training.  But you did.  Every time you enter sketch mode, you use drafting tools.  Trust your instincts.  Let the Revit flow through you!  By practicing in your drafting view, you will also hone your modeling skills.

Surround Yourself With Other Users

Leading the way can be hard. (The previous sentence was an understatement.)  However, there is no need to put yourself in that position in this day and age.  Sure, you may be the first Reviteer in your firm, but there are many who have gone before you.  One of my favorite resources is the local user group.

I'm confident that all of you are aware of the online forums, such as AUGI or Revit City.  With a few taps of the keyboard, it's easy to find someone who has had the same problem that you're having now, along with the multiple solutions that have been offered by the community.

Something Old, Something New

Prior to the advent of CAD, architects would spend a lot of time doing calculations to find out if something would fit.  There are methods we developed to make these calculations simpler. The best example would be a section through a brick wall.  We learned to design the wall vertically in 8-inch increments, not 4-inch, so the mason would not have to slice bricks.

With CAD, we became a little lazy.  Since we are graphically oriented folks, it was just easier to draw every joint in a brick wall section.  I remember the older architects standing behind me and swearing about how I overdrew things.  (How's it going, Dominic?  It turns out that you were right!)  We do not need to draw every joint and every brick.  Get away from this habit as soon as you can!  Revit will help you.

If you can get your hands on a set of drawings made in Revit, show them to your boss.  There is a lot to be learned about drawings and the level of information required to get something built.

Become the Master

You've been using Revit for a little while now.  Congratulations! You are no longer the Revit Padawan—you are a Revit Knight! For most users, this is enough.  But not you.  You want to become the Revit Master! But how?

Remember the goal is to communicate your design with drawings.  Grab a set of drawings that look good to you.  You'll notice a hierarchy to the line work.  There are specific fonts and dimension styles.  The drawings are in a specific and logical order.  This is your answer to becoming the Master, and your saber will be a template.

  1. Make a basic drawing template.  Add your title block for starters.
  2. Set the line weights and line styles. You may be able to reference your old AutoCAD plotter configuration file to determine a basic set of line weights.
  3. Load the hatch patterns you use.  Don't load the ones that never get used—they just take up space.
  4. Set up all of the typical drawings you will use in a typical set.  Add views to the sheets, such as plans, sections, elevations, and perhaps a perspective.
  5. Set the fonts and the dimension styles.
  6. Make the keynotes, symbols, callouts, section markers, and elevation markers that match you company's standards.
  7. Preload all of the components that you'll typically use when producing drawings (model components and detail components).
  8. Add some of those typical details and notes you always have in every set of drawings.
  9. Make the schedules that always appear in the set.
  10. Set the view templates.

Now all you need is for someone to give you a task.  With someone sitting behind you as you draw, you will add four walls to the model in four seconds.  In another 12 seconds, you've added a floor and a ceiling.  Take your last remaining 14 seconds to add a roof and have a sip of tea.

Now it's time to show your witness that in 30 seconds, you have created a basic floor plan, reflected ceiling plan, roof plan, exterior elevations, sections, and a really cool perspective.  Not only have you drawn them, they're already placed on sheets in the drawing set and ready for printing and distribution.

There is no better feeling than hearing your witness gasp at your Revit Mastery!

To Infinity and Beyond

Not a quote from Star Wars, but it does seem appropriate.  You've learned the skills needed to master Revit for producing drawings that match your company standards.  But there's always a bigger fish!  Have you considered becoming the Revit Emperor?

Do you know the depth of the tools that Revit has to offer?  It is almost infinite! Learn what advanced tools are available. I wouldn't recommend trying to actually learn all of these tools at once.  It is better to know that tools are available to learn, as you need them.

Consultants

You have the ability to link the models of consultants into your model and they can link yours into theirs.  If you have a good consultant, let them know up front that you are moving toward Revit.  This gives them the chance to learn with you.  If you are really fortunate, your consultant will have already implemented Revit and you can siphon off some of their experiences.

Linking models allows you to see your consultant's designs in all dimensions.  Now you will have a structural system, ductwork, piping, and electrical in your model.  If you are really fortunate, your lighting designer, interior designer, technology consultant, food services consultant, fire protection consultant, landscape architect, and civil engineer will also be using Revit.  I am quite happy to report to you that all of these disciplines are using Revit and using it successfully!

When you link these models to yours, it will affect the views.  Update your template!  It's like keeping your saber sharp.

Presentation

In my first job out of college, the boss asked me to produce a basic perspective.  I modeled and rendered the building in 3D Studio.  Imagine my surprise when he asked for a simple drawing, not photorealistic!  After all these years, we finally have a tool that allows you to make simple black and white images.  This allows you to critique the form of the building, not the color.  You can change an elevation from grayscale to color then back again by applying view templates to the view.  Once you've learned this skill, update your template.

A design presentation without color.

A realistic presentation of the same view.

The same view set up for construction.

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Rendering

Revit has a rendering engine that can make some really beautiful drawings.  Like other Revit tools you've used, there are more tools to learn, such as materials and lighting.  You can use the same resources to learn these.  Once learned, add the basics to your template.

Analysis

The ability to analyze the building from the get-go gives the designer tools to create better buildings and better spaces.  Analytical tools include sun and shadow studies and energy analysis.  This may come as a surprise, but once you learn these, you should add them to your template.

Construction

We should never forget that someone has to build your design, and your drawings are a means of communication.  For the sophisticated contractor, the model can also be a means of communication.  Perhaps the builder has Navisworks and wants to use your model. As soon as you start to use Revit, you need to discuss this possibility with your insurer.  You will also need to review this possibility with your consultants before the project starts.

The Revit model is still an instrument of service.  While we are "building" 3D virtual buildings, this is not to be confused with building 3D real buildings.  Spend as much time as you can working with the builder in the early stages of construction.  Work through RFI with the builder.  Just as you've taken the time to learn that there are others who know more about Revit than you, there are those who know more about construction than you.  If you can learn the insight of the builder, then you can learn some insight of how to build your model.

Don't Overdo It

It is so easy to over model!  Don't fall into this trap.  Know that there is seldom a need to make 3D details.  You will find families online that are bigger than your model.  Avoid them!  Seriously.  They will bog down your machine (no matter how fast it is) and muddy up your model.

You've done it

You've followed the path from Revit Initiate to Revit Master.  You've kept a singular mindset, learned the tools, established a template, and gained an understanding of the possibilities of this tool.  May the Revit be with you!

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About the Authors

Ibrahim Hakki

 

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