Revit for BIM

A few years ago our local reseller for Autodesk products that serves the Brainerd, Minnesota area called and strongly encouraged us make the transition from Architectural Desktop (now known as Architect) to Revit.  Apparently, according to him, everyone is going that way and if we don’t get on board, we will be behind.  Furthermore, although I don’t remember the details, if we converted when he recommended we could do the whole thing for a little bit less than if we waited too long.  What I do remember is that both prices, the regular cost to convert and the discounted cost to convert, both felt like highway robbery.

After using Revit to complete a couple of different projects we were completely frustrated.  We could get 95% of the way there but in that last 5% there was nothing we could do to make the drawings look right.  I about pulled all my hair out and wasted large amounts of time and money trying to make it work.  We went to the blogs and the help stuff even some training and were told of many “shortcuts” that would trick the program into getting a look close to what we wanted, but in the end, we had to settler for documents that didn’t quite look like we wanted of buildings that weren’t quite constructed accurately for BIM.  All of this, quite frankly, made the whole thing a waste of money in my mind.

Furthermore, Revit, because of it’s shortcomings provided no additional value to my clients.  We want to stay on the cutting edge of technology.  We want to implement the best tools.  But in the end, if it is not improving my clients experience then I would just assume keep my money.  It’s about added value.  Revit doesn’t add value, it just costs more…at least for now.

I love the concept of Revit.  I think that they are almost there.  But in a BIM system almost makes the whole thing useless, and now, here I am many thousands of dollars lighter in the pocket and nothing to show for it.  Are we the only ones who have had this experience?

9 Replies to “Revit for BIM”

  1. Doug:
    I definitely feel your frustration when it comes to Revit being pushed. It IS expensive. I also think that the training offered is fairly substandard in general – though it has gotten better recently. What most training teaches is how to use Revit. They rarely teach you why… or much about BIM itself.

    That being said, what usually makes or breaks an implementation is not whether, but HOW, the software is used. The majority of adventures in Revit by firms investigating the BIM world are based on using Revit only as a drawing production tool. Thinking about Revit this way is going to pretty much waste your investment. What improves productivity and adds value is Revit’s ability to communicate intentions and consequences efficiently. The last firm I worked for ran me ragged training 25+ staff to use the software and then completely ignored its usefulness. It didn’t matter if production was 2 or 3 times faster because staff ended up redrawing/remodeling things 2 or 3 times anyway. The persons in responsible charge of the project never looked at the models or views until there was something pretty there to see… What they failed to grasp was that making the switch to Revit was not like upgrading to a new version of AutoCAD. Business does not continue as usual… and the reluctance of the mangers and principles to evolve their processes hurt the implementation tremendously and wasted all productivity gains.

    I’d be curious to know more about the implementation and how Revit was being used (project type, staff used, etc..) I’ve been on Revit for about 4 years now and have seen huge gains when I am able to use the software in a BIM friendly environment.

  2. Kell,

    I’m Doug’s partner. We’re a small shop. We are the shop. We’re as BIM friendly as we could be.

    The other point Doug didn’t mention is the great challenge with non-BIM consultants. It’s bad enough some are still using very old versions of AutoCAD. We always have data translation issues even if they’re relatively current.

    But we still have the primary task of communicating to clients and contractors. Revit isn’t there, yet, for that purpose. Sure, it does other stuff, but if it can’t first be a drawing production tool then it doesn’t have the value we need.

    What do you do to deal with the 5% that doesn’t work right?

  3. Kell & Doug,

    Your comments are very interesting and are many of the same which I heard over that past two years working hear in Bozeman Montana.

    I had the opportunity to create multiple project only utilizing Revit and coordinating with Consultants.

    If you have a moment I would like to speak with your further regarding Architecture in Northern Minnesota (originally from the TwinCities and spent the past week in the brainerd area)

    I look forward to speaking to you further.

  4. I feel your pain. I use to be in this situation long time ago when i first got involved with Revit.

    Revit needs alot of customization which software resellers have no clue about. They just know the overall product of what it can do, they have no REAL WORLD Experience.

    To get the right look you have to customize each and every item from the line settings, annotation settings to the views itself and then have no one play with it.

    As for the setup needed to export to CAD files, its easy once you know the steps and it took a while to figure out the interoperability between CAD & Revit.(Revit used to be an independent company but bought out by Autodesk, platforms are totally different.)

    I was in charge of the biggest project ever done in Revit and our MEP consultants in Europe used AutoCAD 2000.

    It is tedious initially to setup but can be done effectively.

    Also i may add you can export them DWF’s.

    The last 5% is tedious but once set correctly it will be a breeze on future projects.

    Many of our clients have reduced their workforce per project and as well have made it easier for plan, elevation and 3d Reviews.

  5. Doug,

    Great blog – I’ve enjoyed reading!

    I’ve had the very same frustrations. We have been using Revit as a schematic design tool quite effectively, but when it comes down to CD’s, nothing has been more efficient for us than good old AutoCAD. Trust me when I say that I think the future is clearly going to be BIM based and each day, we try to push further into that learning. But until Autodesk provides the level of customization for production drawings that they offer for ADT, We’re stuck just like you. And like you, we still don’t have enough staff to justify a CAD manager or an in-house team of people to deal with all of the brain damage – that would be me. And unfortunately, the small firm just doesn’t have time of budget to deal with the brain damage. And because we also do structural engineering in-house, that’s another $5,000 package for us to commit to Revit structure. Who designs without structure anyway??

    Anyway, it has it’s use, but has a long way to go before we can use it the way we would like to, IMO.

  6. Great to see a local blogger!

    Revit is a powerful tool, but like any powerful tool you need to know how to handle it or you can loose control very quickly.

    I find frustration in hearing about issues that have relatively simple solutions, but a quick workaround was formulated just to get the job done.

    If all you are going to do is draft then Revit, or any modeling application for that matter, isn’t the software for you.

    If you want to create images to help your client understand your intent or if you want to make sure of the constructability of your design then download Sketchup, which is free and easy to use. Nothing is wrong with 2D drafting, but try to extract content rich data from a 2d element.

    I think if you are not seeing value in BIM then you might not understand what BIM is. BIM isn’t building a model, the industry has been doing that for 15 + years. BIM is building a content rich model that can be used to analyze and simulate.

    Don’t give up!

  7. Bobby…I get your point. And that’s what I want out of Revit. But practically speaking, what comes out of Revit has to be readable construction documents and to some extent, that means it has to be drafting tool. If it’s just a modeling tool, than who has time for that? It’s got to come back and produce the documents you need and if can’t do that without “work arounds” and fixes, then I can’t justify it.

    We just got the new version. We will be installing it and giving it a go. We’ll see what happens.

  8. Dec. 29, 2010
    Revit aRchitecture probably has made some great advance in the time since these writen opinions. I personally like the way it works modeling and the ease it does certain things, but I notice, in my learning process, that there are still things that seem crude and unresolved, that is, when compared with AutoCAD (a lot of seasoned AutoCAD users who also use Rrvit probably will feel the same way). Seem ironical that if Revit is developed and sold by the same peolpe who develop and market AutoCAD, Autodesk, that the program still is missing some good and proven funcionalities that are widely used in AutoCAD and standardized. Historey seems to be ignored here. The program is good, but it leaves plenty of windows open for another program to surface and replace it and be even better. And also, even cheaper. I bet that a lot of people are quietly waiting for that to happen, and will like it to. Remember when Architectural Desktop was supposed to be the future?

    Regardning the prices:
    Autodesk has what was/is called a monopoly with these things and they are taking advantage of it. They are keeping the profession hostage. We are letting Autodesk have it this way. If this were a more widely used program for a wider market, the prices probably would not be accepted and might even become illegal. I wonder why the profession, the AIA, etc. has not done anything about it?

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