Building Your BIM Standards: Essential Elements for Revit Workflows

Why BIM Standards?

So, you want to develop your company BIM standards? Since you’re reading this, you likely already have ideas about what you want to accomplish with those standards. Being able to answer a few basic questions typically leads to better adoption.

Some questions to consider

1. Why are we developing our own standards?

BIM Standards System

Before we continue, we need to ensure our definitions of terminology are aligned. Here are some terms you will see throughout:

Documents

Requirements — The requirements manual consists of hard and measurable standards. The topics addressed in the manual are cut-and-dried and considered not optional.

Files

Content — Content contains the software templates and object library. Content should be automated as much as possible. Making it easier for users to comply with the system facilitates successful implementation. If certain content is mandated (e.g., using a company Revit template), ensure the requirements manual includes the mandate.

People

Support — Consider how the users will get support. Not every question will be answered within the requirements or guidelines. You need a support team. Be wise about who this is. Having a designated support team can be helpful; just ensure they are champions of the standards system. Meet with the team often and consider having them keep a log of topics on which they assist others. This will inform topics that you might need to train on or add to the requirements, guidelines, or content.

Training

Train on the manual, guidelines, and content. Use training events to inform and reinforce the system. Use this venue to tie the system together.

Administration

Consider who is responsible for enforcing the system. Having a protocol in place for how to handle deviations is important. Ensure you have the proper buy-in or you’ll just become frustrated.

General Topics

Now that we have covered the idea of a system (rather than just one document), let’s look at some general topics that your standards system should include (regardless of what software is used). In a recent study, “Understanding of Essential BIM Skills through BIM Guidelines,” L.S. Chae and J. Kang analyzed 11 leading BIM guidelines to determine frequently mentioned topics to identify essential BIM skills necessary. Not only is the data indicative of which skills should be developed, it provides us guidance on the most common topics in guidelines and therefore topics that we should ensure are covered in the BIM standards system.

Referencing

Do other existing standards cover much of what you want to accomplish? Use this to your advantage. Incorporate by reference other standards or sections of the standards. Always identify the version and date of the reference because they do change over time.

Organizational

Include the following for your requirements manual and overall system:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Process

  • Execution Plan — BIM Implementation, Management, Execution, and Project Execution Plans are commonplace. Regardless of which flavor you prefer (BIP, BMP, BEP, PxP), the important factor is that you have one for all projects (even those that don’t require BIM). If it is not a contract requirement, use a company version to get everyone aligned as to how you will execute BIM. The company version can be simpler than what is often part of contract requirements. Perhaps a 5-page version is more applicable to your projects than a 30-page version.
  • 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.

Output

  • Graphical standards — This encompasses all the printed (or PDF) graphics that come from model elements.
  • 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

In addition to the general topics in the previous section, the following Revit-specific topics often appear in BIM standards. Each should be given consideration as to whether it is an important topic for your organization to address.

File Setup

  • Establishing model coordinates
  • 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?

Management

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

Modeling

  • What elements to constrain or pin and when
  • 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

The following are more Revit workflows to consider:

  • 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

Now that we have identified the need for a system and the topics to be addressed, we can start categorizing the topics and identify to which subsystem they belong. Some topics will transcend more than one subsystem, but below are general recommendations for what each subsystem might contain.

System Development Tips

Here are some tips for developing your BIM standards system.

Conclusion

We began by identifying key questions to answer (who, what, when, where, why, and how) for BIM standards. We followed that with a clear understanding and distinction between requirements, guidelines, and content. Further, we established that a single document will not likely be sufficient to build your BIM standards and offered a systems approach.

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Aashish Mathew George

Aashish Mathew George

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Entrepreneuring | curious thinker | technology advisor | photographer at stories by AMG | CTO of paradigm IT |