All posts by Jay Merlan

Professor Arto Kiviniemi (University of Liverpool) and Barie Hasib (BIM REC) Present The True Meaning of Open BIM

An excellent webinar by Professor Arto Kiviniemi from the University of Liverpool. In this session, Professor Kiviniemi discusses the concepts of data sharing with BIM. He covers how building designs are currently exchanged, how the industry theorizes it will be exchanged, and his views on the reality of how building information model data will be exchanged in the future.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Facility Management (FM) Is The Future

First redeveloped office building on the U.S. East Coast to receive LEED Platinum status

Yes, Revit is a design tool for architects and engineers. Revit is also evolving into a fabrication tool for contractors. But did you know that a Building Information Model (BIM) can also be beneficial for building owners and facility managers?

Autodesk, the leading software company for the building industry, acquired FM Desktop in 2006 only to be discontinued shortly after in 2009. Facility Managers were left scrambling for an alternative to manage their buildings digitally. While the workflow for managing your building from within facility management software hasn’t changed much over the years, the birth of BIM has encouraged change.

A Building Information Model (also known as a 4D model) is a term used for a 3-dimensional model containing real-world information. For example, you can assign a material to a floor, indicate a manufacturer and model number to mechanical equipment, or calculate electrical loads of power equipment. There is an infinite amount of information you can put into your BIM model.

With all of that being said, the possibilities of time saved by using BIM during post-occupancy are endless. With a COBie compliant BIM model, a Facility Manager would have minimal data entry. An owner can track assets in a dynamic schedule (or spreadsheet). The more ambitious building owners and operators might even be involved during the design phases of the building by assigning offices and spaces to employees before the building is even built.

The biggest challenge that the building industry has yet to overcome is how to get “good” data into a Building Information Model. The growing trend of using BIM from design through construction has raised many questions such as:

  • Who takes ownership of inputting COBie compliant data into the model?
  • What should a Facilities Manager look for in a BIM model?
  • When should the building owner or operator get involved in the design process?
  • How can an owner or operator use a BIM model during post-occupancy?

We believe to have an answer to “how” BIM and facility management can place nicely together.

Introducing FM:Interact by FM:SystemsFM:Systems - Facility Management Software that works with Revit

FM:Interact seems to be at the forefront of the BIM movement, allowing their users to manage their buildings with a live Revit model. It is a modular software for owners and operators who are looking to move to the next level of building management by using an intelligent 4D model.


Building information modeling (BIM) for Facility Managers/Management (FM) with FM: Interact by FM: Systems
Image courtesy of FM:Systems

FM:Interact offers 11 modules in total, with three core modules:

Space Management
Allows owners an operators to track space inventories, occupancy data, and benchmarks to improve occupancy all of the above.

Strategic Planning
Enables plans to synch with operations by helping managers analyze headcount requirements and forecast for future space needs.

Asset Management
Tracks all building assets including equipment, furniture, and all other physical assets.

One of the most exciting features of FM:Interact is its ability to synchronize with a “live” Revit model, so that changes made from the FM:Interact interface can be seen by anyone working with the Revit model. This two-way data connection is key for ensuring accurate 4D representation for building operations post-occupancy.

The video below is a demonstration of the interactivity between Revit and FM:Interact.

BIM Extension is here to work with building owners and facility managers to ensure that the BIM Model is an accurate representation of the building with facility management in mind. Contact us for a free consultation.

Reply: Looking for info on learning Revit and BIM solutions for FM company.

I recently had the pleasure of joining an online conversation with a fellow AUGI member. I thought that the post held some relevant questions and answers for the BIM Extension Followers as well.

Hello, I am a CAD Tech at a Facilities Management company in Ohio. I have a pretty basic CAD knowledge base. I went to school for Engineering and ended up not finishing, but worked at a consulting engineers company for about 5 years doing lots of Civil work. After the housing crash, I found a position with this FM company. I am struggling with finding my place here, as there is very little need for CAD drawings. Basically I work in the Trades dept. I manage and create drawings for the HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, GC, and Casework groups. These are generally quite basic, nothing too awful involved. My manager talked to me recently about wanting me to look into any kind of training I would be interested in taking that might benefit the company, some kind of continuing education. So here I am.

Generally, I am very interested in learning Revit and figuring out how our company might benefit from me learning about Building Information Modeling. I am just somewhat confused on the whole topic. Most of the facilities we manage are building that have already been built, some have electronic drawings, some don’t. Pretty much NONE of them have 3d drawings anywhere that I’m aware of. I would love to figure out how we could create the 3d drawings for some of our biggest clients and incorporate BIM into them. From my understanding, aside from the time I would spend learning all of it, it would take quite some time to realize a real “BIM” environment and reap the benefits from that, but it seems like, over time, it would definitely be worth it for us. We handle a LOT of facilities. Some are very big, well-known companies.

So anyway, I guess what I’m looking for is any information that anyone could help me out with to figure out how I might go about implementing this into our business. I am only one person, with fairly basic AutoCAD skills. I know I need to learn to use Revit. I have learned Civil 3D and Land Desktop working for the engineering firm, and I learned a lot there just about using CAD in general. Anyone have any resources I could look into, information that would be helpful? I would greatly appreciate any input here!


Our reply:


Facility management is a fairly new concept for Revit. As with anything in the world it is garbage in, garbage out. What that means for facility managers is that the architects, engineers, and/or contractors who develop your models should be required to add necessary models and parameters in order for the model to be applicable to your operations. There is much discussion as to who should take responsibility for COBie and other specifics that benefit the building owner.

If you receive a Revit model without relevant information, all is not lost because you can still edit the model yourself to work for you. However, this can be a somewhat daunting task to someone who is less familiar with the Revit platform.

There are a number of softwares that offer Revit Add-ins, it really depends on what your requirements are. FM: Systems is doing some really cool things with two-way data between Revit models and a web-based system.

I started a consulting firm and aim to help owners and facility managers by either acting as a liaison during the design and construction phases or as a consultant post-occupancy to build and improve the building owners Revit model. I’d be more than happy to discuss this topic more. It is super exciting times in our industry!

How to show a custom scale as “None” or “N.T.S.” in Revit

Revit - Plot Scale on View Title

For those of you who are new to Revit, there are many hurdles to overcome when working with documentation. We’ve all run into the issue where we want a drafting view title or titleblock to say “SCALE: NONE” or “SCALE: N.T.S”. This is a simple task, however not very obvious in Revit.

Click the scale menu (it most likely currently says 12″ = 1′-0″). It is the small button on the bottom left corner of your view window. Select Custom… at the top of that menu.
Revit - Change Custom Plot Scale to None or NTS


In the Custom Scale dialogue box, you will see the ratio field, typically set to 1:1 for diagrams and details. Check the field below to enter a custom display name.

Revit - Change Plot Scale to None or NTS


Now your titleblock and view titles will show the custom display name that you set.

Revit - Plot Scale on View Title as None or NTS

BIM Levels: As explained by The NBS

BIM Levels is a new concept to most of the building industry. Not to be confused with Level of Design (LOD), BIM levels are compliance standards in which projects may (or may not) adhere to. Below is an excellent write-up by The NBS of The UK describing what to expect from each BIM Level.

The NBS considers Level 3 BIM as “the holy grail” of building information modeling, however I believe there will be conflicts between disciplines if all trades have direct access to a single model. In a perfect world it would be amazing to have the ability to collaborate in real-time on a single model, but I believe there needs to be some sort of approval process of proposed changes between trades. I don’t see this being possible on the Revit platform in its current state, so let’s just hope that AutoDesk develops a solution for this BIM Level. I believe that Autodesk’s BIM 360 Glue is an attempt at this level of collaboration, although it is in its infancy stages.

BIM Levels Explained
The concept of ‘BIM levels’ (and ‘BIM level 2 compliance’) has become the ‘accepted’ definition of what criteria are required to be deemed BIM-compliant, by seeing the adoption process as the next steps in a journey that has taken the industry from the drawing board to the computer and, ultimately, into the digital age.

The government has recognised that the process of moving the construction industry to ‘full’ collaborative working will be progressive, with distinct and recognisable milestones being defined within that process, in the form of ‘levels’. These have been defined within a range from 0 to 3, and, whilst there is some debate about the exact meaning of each level, the broad concept is as follows:

Level 0 BIM

In its simplest form, level 0 effectively means no collaboration. 2D CAD drafting only is utilised, mainly for Production Information (RIBA Plan of Work 2013 stage 4). Output and distribution is via paper or electronic prints, or a mixture of both. The majority of the industry is already well ahead of this now (source: NBS National BIM Report 2014).

Level 1 BIM

This typically comprises a mixture of 3D CAD for concept work, and 2D for drafting of statutory approval documentation and Production Information. CAD standards are managed to BS 1192:2007, and electronic sharing of data is carried out from a common data environment (CDE), often managed by the contractor. This is the level at which many organisations are currently operating, although there is no collaboration between different disciplines – each publishes and maintains its own data.

Level 2 BIM

This is distinguished by collaborative working – all parties use their own 3D CAD models, but not necessarily working on a single, shared model. The collaboration comes in the form of how the information is exchanged between different parties – and is the crucial aspect of this level. Design information is shared through a common file format, which enables any organisation to be able to combine that data with their own in order to make a federated BIM model, and to carry out interrogative checks on it. Hence any CAD software that each party used must be capable of exporting to one of the common file formats such as IFC (Industry Foundation Class) or COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange). This is the method of working that has been set as a minimum target by the UK government for all work on public-sector work, by 2016.

Level 3 BIM

Currently seen as the holy grail, this represents full collaboration between all disciplines by means of using a single, shared project model which is held in a centralized repository. All parties can access and modify that same model, and the benefit is that it removes the final layer of risk for conflicting information. This is known as ‘Open BIM’, and the UK government’s target date for public-sector working is 2019? Current nervousness in the industry around issues such as copyright and liability are intended to be resolved – the former by means of robust appointment documents and software originator/read/write permissions, and the latter by shared-risk procurement routes such as partnering. The CIC BIM Protocol makes provision for these.


Dynamo Workflow: Change your sheet parameters with one click.


If you’ve submitted drawings using Revit sheets in the past, you’ve undoubtedly run into the issue where some of your “Checked by” and “Designed by” parameters say “Author”. As far as I know, there is no easy way to change them all globally from within Revit.

I’ve created a simply Dynamo Workflow that will change all of these sheet parameters in a batch. This is a great Workflow for beginners because it is so simple and easy to follow and dissect.

In the future, I will further breakdown the workflow to help beginners understand exactly what Dynamo is doing when this Workflow is run. (204 downloads)

Worksets used to control visiblity and graphics are a big no-no.

Can we, as a community, agree that using worksets to control visibility of elements is a horrible idea? There have been a number of models in my recent years where elements’ visibility are controlled based on the workset they are modeled on.

Yes, it is easier to turn off multiple worksets based on your personal preference, but on a 500,000 square foot project with over 30 MEP engineers, designers, and BIM Specialists working simultaneously on it, you are asking for trouble.

Unfortunately, there have been more than a few models that I’ve seen set up this way and I will chalk it up to lack of experience. Below are a few reasons you should not use worksets to control visibility. Please take this advice into consideration before you set up your first Revit MEP model.

  • HUMAN ERROR: You are risking someone putting something on the wrong workset and it showing up on a view that you did not intend it to.
  • INABILITY TO USE WORKSHARING PROPERLY: Worksets were designed to help users share a model by checking entire worksets out. If elements’ V/G settings are controlled with worksets, you lose the ability to check worksets in and out using a workflow that makes sense.
  • THERE ARE NO LAYERS IN REVIT: If your views’ V/G settings are reliant on worksets, then it appears that you have successfully created AutoCAD-style layers in Revit. This is not a good thing! Layers have always been a struggle and do not contain intelligence in the true BIM fashion.
  • YOU ARE USING A SINGLE PARAMETER: Visibility and Graphics should be controlled using filters so that you will have the ability to utilize the infinite number of parameters to turn things on or off, change colors, customize line weights, and more.

Revit has extremely powerful visibility and graphics control right out of the box, without having to create any extra steps other than the initial setup of your templates. Revit was designed to control elements by categories, filters, and phases (more on each of these topics later).

While it is somewhat easy to assign a workset with each element in your model you are trusting that all of your users will put elements on the proper workset. Think about it this way, how often have you seen AutoCAD objects drawn on the wrong layer?