Not very long ago, I was talking with some Architects about Revit and they made the comment that Revit doesn’t work for residential design. I was surprised at their comments, especially with Revit’s roots being in residential design. After talking with them, I learned that they use AutoCAD now and they were just interested in producing 2D construction documents and didn’t care about any 3D features or any intelligence that might be inside Revit. They all had used AutoCAD for many years and had their AutoCAD blocks created and systems in place to produce 2D documentation quickly. They were very efficient at their system, didn’t see any reason to change, and only looked for excuses to not make any change.
I will state that Revit works fantastic for residential design and can produce construction documentation quickly.
I find that some designers attempt to make the switch to Revit because a client is “forcing” them to or they have heard that it is what they are “suppose” to do. It is actually pretty rare for a residential client to force a residential designer to switch to Revit. In my experience, the bigger percentage of the residential design field tends to care more about getting some basic drawings created that get the general intent across. The point was that it didn’t matter as much what the drawings were like since the home builder will hire carpenters, concrete people, and others to build the house regardless of what the drawings were like. The important thing is the 2D paper document. Before anyone gets upset, this is a generalized statement and not indicative of all residential designers. I know some home designers that have been involved in 3D home design for many years and been very productive and effective with it. Some of those designers use Revit and some use products other than Revit.
A relative of mine hired a residential drafter to draw his house plans in AutoCAD and produced the poorest set of drawings that I have seen in many years. The drawings showed a lack of understanding of how a house is constructed, but the basic drawings were enough to get a building permit which is what he wanted. I looked at the drawings and thought about how much better it could be had it been done in Revit. The drafter knew how to use AutoCAD to create drawings, but a Revit user knowledgeable about Revit and design can create a great set of construction documents that truly reflect the building design. Speed of construction documents does not have to be sacrificed in using Revit.
A key to productivity in Revit is to have a good template and families created for the type of work which you perform, as well as establishing a process to create the building model. Different types of building design need different families and construction assemblies, so residential design projects need the wall, doors, window, roof, railing, stair, cabinet, plumbing fixture, appliance, etc families that are typically used on most residential projects. Documentation items, such as tags and schedules, need to be created and placed in templates so that tags are readily accessible and schedules are automatically completed. Standards need to be established so each person working on a building model know what families and processes are utilized. Users should rarely need to go searching the internet for families to place in a residential building model since so much of residential projects is consistent between projects. I realize that home designs vary, but the families making up a home design are still pretty consistent. Consistency is key to speed.
Of course, good Revit training for users is also important so users do not fight the software while trying to learn it on projects.
Impact to home buyers
Home buyers should be able to see their home via a 3D model now. They can go to their local lumber yard and design their deck in 3D, and many home buyers do not understand why a professional designer cannot produce their home design in 3D.
I was talking with a new home buyer the other day and he discussed the meeting that he and his wife had with the production home builder representative and how they looked at 2D drawings on paper of their 3 different front elevation options. They then looked at 2d paper drawings to mark where they wanted their 10 optional electric/cable/telephone receptacles. He works in the office technology field and couldn’t understand why the home builder was not using current technology. We discussed how the home buyer should be able to view 3D electronic models showing the different front elevations on their tablet. They should also be able to log into an account with the builder (from anywhere), electronically select their desired elevation, and electronically place their receptacles. The process of viewing various options via paper and making choices via paper will be repeated throughout the decision instead of electronically. We are in an era where this can and should change.
I commend home builders who are communicating the home design and options via electronic methods, but I really believe this should soon be the norm throughout the industry.