The software we use and how we choose to use the software have both intended and unintended consequences. It is important to realize how much power you have at your fingertips. Proper training and an understanding of the software features is incredibly important. In the case of BIM-based software, this is especially important, because we are dealing with data-rich environments.
As the architecture, engineering, construction and owner (AECO) industries continue to develop data standards and deliverables, we must continually be aware of how we input data into our BIM models. I always remind folks that garbage in is also garbage out - if the inputs are incorrect, so will be the outputs.
The Importance of Auditing Revit Models
At Ideate Software, we cannot stress enough the importance of auditing your Revit models and running them through a QA/QC process. Your BIM Execution Plans should include protocols for how you plan to audit models for file size, warnings, standards, etc. Included in this process should be methods to determine if placed model content has been flipped after placement. Flipping content during or after placement may have unintended consequences, and these consequences could lead to expensive design changes and change orders if caught too late.
Before I dig into the process on how to QA/QC your Revit models for flipped content, I need to stress the importance of understanding how Revit families are created and the proper use of Revit family templates. Deviating from standard family modeling practices will affect both the data and graphical outcome, which could cause huge headaches when going through the QA/QC process.
For example, door families in Revit are modeled by default as left-hand reverse (assuming doors with swings). Looking at the door family from a plan view, that means the swing is up and to the right. Once you place a door and flip (or mirror) the facing (inside/outside) and handing (left/right), then you alter the data that the door reports in the Revit API. If you choose to create a door that goes against these rules, say, create a custom door family as a right-hand or right-hand reverse, your data output will not be correctly reflected during the QA/QC process, which could have unintended consequences.
Another example may be certain mechanical equipment. Many manufactures have left and right-handed equipment, such as boilers. This equipment affects where the supply and return air ducts are located, as well as where the fuel source and hydronic inputs and outputs reside. Some equipment is manufactured in one orientation, which means that it should never be flipped when placed in your model.
Determining if an Element Has Been Flipped
With all of this in mind, we must ensure that we QA/QC our models for components that have been flipped because if we do not, the design documentation and the specifications may not align, and if not caught in time, changes in the field can be quite costly. Unfortunately, Revit allows us the freedom to do what we want with components, including flipping upon placement.
To determine if a door has been flipped (mirrored) and/or the handing has been changed, or to determine if other components, such as windows, curtain wall panels, furniture, mechanical equipment, etc. have been flipped, we can quickly select and isolate these elements by using Ideate Explorer with Ideate Query. We simply select the element categories and then Ideate Query the selection on Is Facing Flipped, and for doors, we can also add to this query Is Hand Flipped. For face-based components, such as some casework and plumbing fixtures, we can also determine if the Work Plane Flipped option was used. Once we get the results, we can isolate those elements and have a closer look.
Examples From Ideate Query
Let’s review some of the results of using Ideate Query to determine if the positions of placed components have been modified.
- Here is an example of an out-of-the-box single-flush commercial door. By default, door families, such as the one shown here, are modeled as left-hand reverse doors. Creating your own door families with different swing positions, such as left-hand, right-hand, or right-hand reverse will yield incorrect handing data. It is best to create all families as intended in Revit. Note that door family templates indicate the exterior and interior sides.
- Here is an example of a manufacturer’s boiler. This boiler has two different model numbers – one for a left-handed model and another for a right-handed model. The manufacturer chose to model them as two separate family files. By default, in most family templates, the front of the component is on the bottom of your screen. Like the door family creation, it is best to create components oriented as intended in Revit, otherwise you will end up with incorrect data. Note that many family templates do not indicate which sides are the front and back.
- Example of a left-handed boiler placed in Revit and then flipped front/back, left-right, and rotated. Using the Flip controls or the Mirror command yields the same results. The Comments parameter was labeled with their position after placement. Since Revit allows users to flip and mirror components, it is easy to mistakenly misplace components. Left unchecked, this kind of mistake could become a costly change order.
- With Mechanical Equipment selected, we hit the Ideate Query button to refine the selection, especially if there is a long list of selected families.
- Ideate Query was used to filter the selection by the comments (as a reminder to how the boiler was placed and positioned) and then by Is Facing Flipped (mirror yields the same results) to determine which of the boilers were placed and then modified. The ones circled in red are incorrect, which could be problematic if all the supply and return piping was fabricated in the field prior to realizing that the equipment placed in the model does not exist.
- While most doors are manufactured in all directions, it is still important to QA/QC their handing to ensure that they align with your hardware specifications. By default, door families are created in the left-hand reverse direction. When creating custom door families, it is important not to deviate from this standard, otherwise your reporting of the door handing will be incorrect.
For more detailed information on door handing using Ideate Explorer and Ideate BIMLink, be sure to check out this blog: https://ideatesoftware.com/blog/determining-door-hand-and-swing-direction-in-revit-using-ideate-software
- I used Ideate Query to filter the selection by the comments (as a reminder to how I placed the doors) and then by Is Facing Flipped and Is Hand Flipped to determine door placement. The door circled in red is the left-hand reverse door, which is the default position of door families. If you create a custom door family that deviates from the standard, this data may report incorrectly.
- If you are an Ideate BIMLink user, you can also set up QA/QC links to accomplish this task. In some cases, you can modify the flip and hand using Microsoft Excel and then import those changes back into Revit.
Ensure Projects are Up to Industry Standards and Avoid Costly Design Changes
At Ideate Software, we cannot stress enough the importance of auditing your Revit models and running them through a QA/QC process. Your BIM Execution Plans should include protocols for how you plan to audit models for file size, warnings, standards, etc. Included in this process should be methods to determine if placed model content has been flipped after placement. Doing so will ensure that your projects are up to industry standards and will help you avoid costly design changes and change orders in the future.
For more information on Ideate Explorer and Ideate Query, be sure to check out our online help file:
For implementation services or to learn more about how Ideate Explorer can help your business, please contact [email protected]
About the Author
Sash Kazeminejad - AIA, LEED AP, ACI - Customer Success Manager
Sash earned his Master of Architecture from Montana State University and is a California registered architect, LEED Accredited Professional, and a Bluebeam Certified Instructor. He has extensive experience in project management; BIM management; design for architectural firms in California, Montana, and Oregon; and leading classroom and online BIM training. He provides consulting, sales, support, and training solutions to AECO customers around the globe. Find Sash on LinkedIn.