Building Your BIM Standards: Essential Elements for Revit Workflows

Authoring and implementing BIM (Building Information Modeling) standards can be tedious and difficult. Where do you even start? This article will present data collected from standards and guidelines of various entities, such as corporations, academia, local and federal government, and national and international groups. We’ll identify commonalities from each of the standards and compile them to produce data that you can use to develop and implement BIM standards that work for you.

We’ll delve even deeper to identify Revit-specific content needed for BIM standards and help make clear distinctions between standards and guidelines, as well as identify topics that don’t need to be standardized. We’ll focus on standards development for a holistic BIM workflow within Revit and provide essentials for integrating workflows with AutoCAD and Navisworks.

Why BIM Standards?

Some questions to consider

2. Who are the key stakeholders that are needed for buy-in and implementation?

3. What should our standards address? What should they omit?

4. When will we develop or update this content?

5. Where will this content live and how will it be accessed?

6. How will these standards align with the organizational mission, goals, and objectives? How will we implement these standards?

Only you and your organization can determine what is best defined as your BIM standards. The importance of planning before getting started cannot be overemphasized. For some organizations, the goal will simply be to update an old CAD standard. For others, it may be to get a handle on quality management of drawings and models. Yet others may be seeking to drive overall technology and workflow changes.

The remainder of this article presents ideas for consideration. This is not intended to indicate these are all absolutely necessary and certainly not the only means to accomplish a desired goal. They are, however, observations from practice and analysis. They are presented here as cupboard of ingredients. What you make of it is up to you.

BIM Standards System

standard: an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations; a required or agreed level of quality or attainment

requirement: a thing that is compulsory; a necessary condition

guideline: a general rule, principle, or piece of advice

For our purposes here, when the term ‘standards’ is used, it refers to the overall system and level of quality the system is attempting to attain. ‘Requirement’ indicates a topic that is not optional, whereas ‘guideline’ indicates a recommendation but one that may be optional.

Generally, a BIM manual is not enough to outline all the topics that should be addressed for an organization. Some topics are better addressed as requirements while others are more suited to guidelines. Some standards can be addressed in content while others may take training.

Complete BIM standards are typically made up of a system with multiple subsystems. To be successful, the system will need administration in terms of implementation and enforcement.

Below is an example of a systems approach to organizational BIM standards. In other words, it’s not just one document. It is a system of documents, people, and processes that are all aligned with the ‘why’ in achieving the outcome.


Guidelines — The guidelines consist of how-to documents and suggested workflows. By definition, the guidelines carry some degree of option with them. The guidelines should be considered a strong recommendation. If it is a workflow that you don’t want considered optional, ensure it is in the requirements manual and not a how-to document.





For the entire system, remember that alignment is paramount. One change in a subsystem impacts the overall system and often requires another change in a different subsystem.

General Topics

Additionally, research by Penn State Computer Integrated Construction regarding BIM uses reveals the BIM uses that ranked the highest in terms of frequency and benefit in 2009. Even a decade later these are commonly referenced BIM uses. 3D coordination, design review, and design authoring still seem to be the most commonly used. Identify which BIM uses your organization deems most valuable and ensure that the BIM standards system adequately addresses the topics.


Full Reference — Some references can be incorporated as a full reference (including the entire document). Good examples of ready-to-use full references are the BIMForum LOD Spec and the USACE M3. (See the Reference Material section at the end of this article for more.)

Partial Reference — Some references might include only a portion of content you want to use. Some of the other content within the reference might cause issues in your standards or workflows. Good examples of partial references are the NCS — BIM Implementation Section and NBIMS — COBie.

Avoid reinventing something that already works well. Using references, if possible, may eliminate the need to redefine certain topics in the following sections. If you use a reference, ensure your users have quick access to it.


  • Purpose — Tell the user what you hope to achieve with this system and why. Align this with the organizational mission, goals, and/or objectives.
  • Scope — Indicate the limits of standards scope. Is it used only for specific project phases (design development, construction documents)? Is it excluded in others (schematic design)?
  • Background — Give some history if appropriate and helpful. This might help the user understand why you have arrived at some of the components of this system.
  • Glossary — A tedious section but necessary. Use it to clarify semantics.
  • Policy — This usually occurs in conjunction with IT management but at the very least ensure the following is documented: 1) where files are stored; 2) how files are accessed; 3) how files are backed up and how frequently.

Structure — Provide documentation on the system, supra-system, and subsystems. Again, this can be a little tedious but necessary, especially for newer employees.

  • Roles and responsibilities — Define what is typical for your projects. It is recommended to have a model manager for every project. This role is the single point of contact for all things related to the administration of the model.


  • BIM uses — Have a common definition of which BIM uses your organization employs. This can be a predefined list or one that you create on your own.
  • LOD — Provide definitions of Level of Development (LOD) and/or variations of LOD if applicable to you (Level of Detail, Level of Reliability). Again, if you can reference standards already in the industry, which will save a lot of effort. Just ensure your organization is using the same definition.


  • Drafting standards — What symbols do you use? How do you want the details to look?
  • Sheet set organization — How do you want the sheet set organized?

Revit Topics

File Setup

  • Naming conventions — File, view, sheet, families and types, materials, and parameters
  • Central and local files — Work-sharing or cloud collaboration?
  • How/when will projects be divided into multiple models?


- Audit

- Compress

- Purge

- Review/address warnings

  • Browser organization
  • View specificsView templates standardized; export views
  • Protocol for collaborating with others outside of your organization
  • Phasing and design options setup and use


  • Define the use of detail components versus drafting lines
  • When can detail lines be used?
  • When can model lines can be used?
  • When should your users create drafting views versus detail views?
  • Do you use classification systems?
  • When/how will you use grouping?

Additional Workflows

  • How to start a project?
  • What is the protocol for when something goes wrong?
  • How to prepare CAD data (or other formats) for insertion?
  • What are the steps a user should take to ensure consistency for export to CAD or Navisworks?

Creating the System

System Development Tips

1. Your standards should aim to quickly onboard new employees.

2. Your standards should aim for efficiency and productivity gains.

3. Establish consistent formatting for your Requirement Manual and Guidelines.

4. If you use certain writing conventions, provide guidance to the reader to reference.

5. Create a hyperlinked index. This seems simple and obvious but without it the documents will likely not be used.

6. Make a PDF (or online document) for users to access. Keep the working documents in a protected directory. The live or published versions should be PDF. Plus, the PDF is easily searchable!

7. Consider an online portal for the system (SharePoint or similar).

8. Version and date all documents in the header or footer.

9. Tag content if using an online system (so it can be indexed and searched).

10. Use imperative tone for mandatory items (write it like a specification).

11. Clearly distinguish between what is a requirement versus a guideline. Let your users know what is optional and what is not.

12. Don’t assume everyone understands. Say what you mean explicitly — nothing more, nothing less.

13. Follow the CSI rules of writing: concise, consistent, complete, and correct.

14. Capture what is already being done right (don’t assume it will continue).

15. Correct what is being done wrong.

16. Have a review period and an implementation period. Include a grace period for compliance.

17. Include the ‘why’ for subtopics when necessary.

18. Provide graphical examples when possible.

19. Consider developing an example set as a go-by.

20. Provide a change log (track changes) for each revision.


The system demonstrated includes buckets for: requirements, guidelines, content, support, training, and administration. From research and experience, we further identified common general topics of BIM standards as well Revit-specific topics. You now have a list of topics to consider for inclusion as well as some indicators from research on what to prioritize.

As you build your BIM standards system, remember to focus on the system as a whole and keep it in alignment with the overall organizational goals and objects. For additional resources, see the Reference Materials below or watch the class recording.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Article from Autodesk University

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