Construction Monkey

Construction Monkey Blog

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. 

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.