The days of actually sharing Building Information Models are finally upon us. At Ideate we're seeing a high degree of RVT sharing going on out there, not only across A/E disciplines but also into the construction field. Obvious hurdles still abound as we struggle to define BIM deliverables and what constitutes a "constructability" model but it's exciting nonetheless to see so much progress in the past two years.As we see more owners and contractors performing detailed takeoff analysis derived from Revit models we've become more attuned to the unique challenges of trying to leverage someone else's data. It's difficult enough to "walk through" a project you are not familiar with, and even more difficult to comfortably assess the data behind the model when you yourself are not the creator.

To that end, I thought I'd share a few tips to help avoid some of the common mistakes that can be made when using Revit for quantity takeoff purposes.

Phasing and Schedule Data Challenges Architects and Engineers most typically use phases to graphically represent demolition, existing, and new construction conditions within a project. This allows, for example, items that are existing to be shown in a lighter lineweight, and items that are being demolished to either be displayed as dashed or not be shown at all. Ideate has had many support cases where quantity takeoffs were not giving the expected results due to phasing considerations. Using the wrong Phase Filter on a Schedule can radically impact the takeoff results. Each of Revit's model elements are assigned a Phase Created and Phase Demolished value, as shown. These assignments give Revit the ability to display Views and Schedules as a snapshot in time. When the schedule is created a Phase is identified, as shown. This acts as a filter on the schedule.  In this example, any Wall that has a Phase Created value of "Phase II" will not display in the schedule.  

Consider the simple floor plans shown for Phase I and Phase II of the same project. Each schedule has a different combination of Phase and Phase Filter settings. These phase settings can be edited from the Properties dialog when the Schedule is the active view.

Note that the temporary wall, shown dashed, is visible in both the Floor Plan View and in the Schedule. Depending upon the Phase Filter the temporary wall could be excluded even if the Phase is set to "Phase I." Additionally, this schedule includes walls that are existing. Is this desired for your takeoff?In Phase II, another room is created. The Revit Schedule, when set to Filter on "Phase II" can include only the items created during this Phase OR can be set to show both the new items and the older items. The Phase Filter called "Show Previous + New" will cause the Existing, Phase I, and Phase II items to display. It cannot, however, be used to only show Phase I and Phase II items and it will also not include any temporary items from the previous phase.

So, Before You Start the Takeoff... If you're using someone else's RVT to generate a takeoff, bear these tips in mind:

  • Start by reviewing the Phase settings which can be found on the Manage tab under Phases. Review both the Phase and Phase Filter Settings to understand the lay of the land.
  • In order to get a complete picture of the elements on a per phase basis, you may want to have a Schedule for each Phase and use only the "New" Phase Filter.
  • Additionally, while not as prevalent, Design Options present the exact same set of issues with respect to quantity takeoffs. Revit Schedules may or may not reflect information about the set of data upon which you should be basing the takeoff. Design Option data creates duplicate elements. In some instances the Design Option data may actually be old and not relevant to the bid.
  • The best course of action is to review the Design Options directly with the architect or engineer prior to starting the takeoff.
  • Lastly, Ideate BIMLink can provide peace of mind to the quantity takeoff process by including the relevant phased and design option-based information in-line with the element data. In this short Quantity Takeoff and Phasing video you'll see how Ideate BIMLink can represent all element instances. You can then use Excel to decide which elements should be part of your takeoff.

Learn more about Ideate BIMLink. Want more information on Phasing or Design Options? Ideate offers custom online training during convenient lunchtime hours on these and other construction-related topics. Review the online Revit training topics then contact Ideate's Training Department for more information.

About the Author

Glynnis Patterson, NCARB - Director of Software Development Glynnis is a Registered Architect and has worked within the BIM industry since 1998. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she has worked as an architect, educator and construction site manager. Glynnis is currently the Director of Software Development Services at Ideate, Inc. and continues to work with AEC clients across the nation, developing, and consulting on solutions to Building Information Modeling challenges. In her spare time Glynnis does volunteer work for eclcofnj.org and growitgreenmorristown.org @GVPinNJ


This post was originally published on the Ideate Solutions Blog

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We’ve just completed an exhaustive survey of our Ideate BIMLink user base and thought we’d share a few of the findings.

First and foremost, we want to extend a big thank you to all who participated. We had respondents from across the globe share information on how they use Ideate BIMLink. The winner of our drawing for the iPod Touch is Aida Staugaard of HOK in Los Angeles – Congratulations Aida and thanks for the great input!

In many respects, the survey helped us validate the value of the product features and ease of use. To whit, the respondents who:

  • Found Ideate BIMLink easy to use = 87%
  • Use Ideate BIMLink to manage sheet-based data 6x or more per project = 34%
  • Use Ideate BIMLink to manage room-based data = 93%
  • Use Ideate BIMLink to manage Furniture, Fixtures, or Equipment Families = 72%, and Doors = 83%

It’s interesting to note that the ROI for editing the sheet-based data alone was easily 20 hours per project saved x minimum of 50 projects per year. If one assumes a burdened salary of $65/hr, the annual savings for just editing sheet data would be $65,000 in the first year!

What was most interesting to us was to learn about the unique ways in which our customers use Ideate BIMLink today. Here’s a brief sampling:

  • Sun Shades (Generic Models) - Pushing heat transfer and sightline data from Excel into Revit objects
  • Managing Large Volumes of Custom Sheet-based Data - Several customers manage 10+ custom parameters per sheet. For a 100-sheet project, that’s 1000 pieces of data to manage for each issued set (and a lot of painful editing!)
  • Restoring Lost Key Schedule Data after mistakenly deleting a Key Schedule - Ideate BIMLink was used to reconnect the Room IDs with the appropriate values for over 10 parameters x 100s of rooms in a matter of seconds, preventing hours of lost time
  • Solar Panel Data - The shaded areas are being represented on the facades with Filled Regions. Ideate BIMLink is used to export the areas of all these regions for further calculations
  • Hospital Equipment - Producing data-rich BIM documents for hospitals is the only way to stay competitive. Ideate BIMLink help many customers populate reams of parameter data on a variety of families
  • Lighting Fixtures - A lighting manufacturer uses Ideate BIMLink to manage a catalog of light fixture data across several product lines

We appreciate everyone’s input and look forward to implementing many of your suggestions into our next release. Share your suggestions with Ideate Software.

Visit the Ideate Software website for more information on our software solutions, training, and support services. 

About the Author

Glynnis Patterson, NCARB – Director of Software Development
Glynnis is a registered architect and has worked within the building information modeling (BIM) industry since 1998. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she has worked as an architect, educator and construction site manager. Glynnis is the Director of Software Development Services and continues to work with AECO clients worldwide, developing, and consulting on solutions to BIM challenges. In her spare time, Glynnis volunteers for the local high school and with growitgreenmorristown.org. Find Glynnis on LinkedIn.


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Companies with one person using Ideate Software tools see that person move away from tedious, time-consuming Revit tasks to more interesting, creative work. That person is happier because he/she can focus on what matters most, and clients are happier because they get more innovative and accurate designs, quicker.

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More and more of our customers around the world take advantage of the bundles. So don’t put it off any longer. Join hundreds of satisfied Ideate Software customers all over the globe and opt for a bundle today. Not sure which pricing option is right for you? Contact us to discuss your current situation, and we will help you discover the appropriate solution for your firm. 

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For those who have been considering Ideate Software products for a while and were waiting for the perfect opportunity to subscribe, this is it!

Our 6-month bundle is priced at just $500. With it, you’ll get access to all the tools you need to work more efficiently and with less stress, as far as your Revit workflows are concerned.

This Single-User bundle includes 1 subscription to Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Explorer, Ideate Sticky, Ideate StyleManager and IdeateApps—all for use by a single-user. 

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