I think that perhaps our biggest challenge in BIM is the different industry perspectives/ personalities and agendas that we have within the design/ building construction/ building management space.

Those of us who have been in the BIM implementation space for many years would agree our biggest challenge is always (a) resistance to change and (b) a conflict and misalignment of industry sector values and agendas.

~ M. Van Kolck

Now before I continue I will be clear in stating the following: This blog post is riddled with generalizations simply because without being general I won’t be able to make my point. So if any of my observations offend you feel free to console yourself that they simply don’t apply to you or take the opportunity to see if perhaps there is a slither of relevance in what I am saying.


So let’s have a closer look at some of the misalignment of values and agendas within our industry. All attributes listed below are just my perception and I place no judgement on these observations. There are some very good reasons why certain personality types are drawn to various sectors within our industry. For example, we need engineers to be fixated on practicality, safety and structural or mechanical integrity. We also need our designers to be visionaries so that we build a world filled with less mass-produced, ghost-like, buildings that are void of personality and the imagination of the human spirit.



  • Visionary, Idealistic, Imaginative, Creative, Detail orientated
  • Their identity lies in their unique way of viewing their world and their endless pursuit of creating beauty and spaces that uplift those that experience them
  • Resistance to following any solution that makes them feel less unique. Architects could be found arguing that no single systemized solution could possibly ever apply to them, their client, studio or firm.
  • Resistance to “mass-produced” solutions.
  • Their fear of losing projects to other firms causes them to be far more reluctant to push back when the industry or project demands are unrealistic. As a result the Architects are often the sector of the industry that wears most of the cost in delivering BIM projects simply because they assume responsibilities more easily when other industry sectors drop the ball, refuse to take accountability for certain tasks or make extreme demands.
  • Prone to making too many design variations and creating great strain on project resources and profitability as a result of over detailing their models or specifications.
  • Can be controlling in nature due to having a strong tendency towards perfectionism and wanting to protect their vision.
  • Tend to over detail documentation since they distrust that their design intent will be adhered to without detailed specification. Can be known to over specify.
  • May be more easily influenced by external validation that they are unique and that their quest for beauty is essential, even noble. (Something the software industry has worked out and mastered about marketing to this type of client.)
  • Projects are less likely to be profitable because design variations can consume resources and profits and architects/designers are cautious to charge for too many variations especially when they are often the cause of the next design change/improvement.
  • Staff can become exhausted with imposing high pressure deadlines and endless overtime hours worked, in the midst of constant re-designing of the project vision.
  • Might try to avoid conflict with client in terms of negotiating higher fees or more reasonable project timelines but could raise the roof in the battle for the perfect door tag! ;-)

ENGINEERS (Our Planners / Analysers)


  • Engineers are dominant in their practical mindedness
  • Tendency to share information less freely.
  • Have mastered the art of not demystifying exactly what they do so or how they do it. (E.g. Home renovation TV shows abound but we don’t see a DIY engineering program making prime time TV.)
  • Less concerned with aesthetics, in general.
  • Far more concerned by safety and workability. (As they should be)
  • Feels most comfortable in systemized solutions but does not always like to assume or take ownership of roles or accountability outside their current industry scope of agreed responsibilities.
  • Can be accused of being less pro-active (at times). This might simply be because this industry tends to attract more analytical personality types who may be less swayed with ideals of social integration (as opposed to architects/designers who are hard-wired to strive for harmony)
  • Probably attracts a more methodical, even cautious, personality type that finds value in concentrating on safety, mathematics and problem solving. (Again, this is a good thing and appropriate for their role.)
  • Reluctant to assume accountability for things that are not within their scope
  • Hesitates in modelling too soon for fear that the architects/ designers will change their minds. It would not be uncommon to hear an engineer boasting “We only start modelling our stuff when the architects have finally stopped changing things, which basically never happens!”
  • Architects are often known to assume more responsibility than they should in the BIM model because “the engineer hasn’t started modelling yet”
  • Projects are more likely to be profitable because re-work is kept to a minimum.

CONSTRUCTION (Our Problem Solvers and Building Makers)


  • Can often be quite unsympathetic to the plight of the architect.
  • Known to be frustrated with trying to marry the ideals/visions of the artist with the practicality and affordability of project outcomes
  • Can be less precious about design and concentrates more business/ profitability of building of actual project.
  • In cases where the construction firm is also the client a much larger focus is placed on design but the profits of owning the final building product can help wear some of the design variations more easily than normal Architect/ Design firms can.
  • Tends to dominate the BIM delivery if they are the project client, especially since they benefit directly from the mandates that are made.
  • Are often not consulted right until costing stage of the project which can create disjoin in the BIM integration workflow and result in potential variations later in final project design stage.
  • Generally less focussed on the practical processes, workflows, documentation hours required to achieve BIM models and more attached on the end result of deliverables.
  • Can be labelled as the bully in the play yard. A Construction Manager might argue “It’s the Architect’s problem if he can’t fight back or argue for more commissions if it takes longer to build a LOD 400 model!”
  • Focussed on getting the job done.
  • Often frustrated with high pressure deadlines and problem solving on the run. Dealing with unexpected variables on site and undefined decisions that the Architects or Engineers might have missed along the way.



  • I have always said that QS is a ‘black art’ filled with a keen sense of grounded intuition and complex calculations and considerations of costing, time lines and deliverables.
  • Highly skilled at allowing for all kinds of variables within the construction process.
  • Whilst they are referring to the BIM models more these days to check sizes and quantities I do still believe that much of what a QS manages to do and calculate cannot be defined on a sheet or in a drawing.
  • They are reasonably isolated on most BIM projects and their specific needs are largely unquantified within the industry in terms of general industry understanding of exactly what they need.
  • Creating data for QS’s in terms of costing can often be ineffective or almost meaningless since they often have their own highly intricate costing schedules and formulas that extend far beyond the purchase price.



  • Easily forgotten in the process of BIM
  • Often inundated with far too much unnecessary data and poor management of digital data.
  • Their biggest challenge is being able to allocate the appropriate data easily without having to step over endless amounts of excessive data that is simply not relevant.

SOFTWARE INDUSTRY (The Powerful Industry Persuader)


  • Highly reliant on marketing with extreme effectiveness and ruthless precision to sell their software solutions.
  • They are leveraging of their opportune timing of being able to facilitate BIM collaboration with the use of digital technology.
  • I believe that the Software Giants in this industry sector are deliberately slowing down the pace at which solutions are being released to the industry to some degree. This may sound cynical – I know – but it’s simple business. If the software industry committed to creating an integrated/universal BIM solution within the next 24 months they would not make the same money than if they drag this process out for years on end. Much like the health industry – they make more money when their clients are sick or in need of care.
  • Of course the best way to drag out arriving at any universal BIM solution is to convince their clients that they are unique and that they ‘need’ a customised solution to meet their specific aesthetic and client data needs. They need to persuade the client that a single integrated solution is not possible and they spend a lot of money every year doing exactly that!
  • Improvements in BIM software must be regular and incremental to keep industry hope alive that the BIM challenge could possibly become easier to manage one day. They might call it “clever marketing strategies to ensure long-term viability of their product”
  • The software industry holds the key, resources, capital and skills to many of the digital tools that could redefine BIM in a very short period of time if they had the incentive to do so.
  • Unfortunately BIM Software giants thrive when our industry is misaligned and confused. This is because we are not united in holding them more accountable for improving the speed and efficiency with which to solve the technical aspect of the BIM dilemma.

With all these different industry personalities in our building BIM project environment it becomes obvious why creating a BIM solution would be an extreme challenge. The issue of why BIM is taking longer to solve in the building industry (as opposed to the car industry, as an example) becomes far more apparent. In the car industry the Client is the Manufacturer, Designer and Engineer, their values and agenda are aligned and easily mandated.

Perhaps the best way forward for BIM to really excel in our industry is for the industry to redefine the context within which we interact and to quantify exactly what they cost is when we are not a united front? Maybe it is time for everyone to “own our stuff” and to reflect on whether we are really doing as well as we would like to pretend that we are.

Our industry is not a bad one to work in but I have observed that it can be quite petty, judgmental, arrogant and very egotistical. It seems to me that everyone is so busy making sure that their turf, their job, and their fixed way of being is protected that no one is really working towards true integration for BIM, the project and most importantly – the various project teams and their client. I would like that to change and to see that every team throughout the lifecycle of a BIM project is winning and that some BIM teams are not falling through the cracks so easily. BimBoomBam_Revit_UpsideDownBim-9

Perhaps our goal should not be Building Information Modelling but Building Integration Modelling? Well – that’s enough of my philosophical ramblings… I hope this has also been food for thought for someone else out there in this big wide world.

Let another ripple go forth and make this a better industry to work in by sharing this post if it resonates with you on some level  ;-)




BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Revit Collection2Today I want to write about a topic that has been on my mind for some time. I am going to discuss some of the content (in general terms) that we have recently purchased from for use at a global architectural firm.

I have hesitated slightly in posting about this specific range simply because I know that my post could be misunderstood and the intention twisted by the community if not read in the correct context. I have positive and negative feedback to give about the Revit Collection Revit content range but do not misinterpret my review as saying that the Revit Collection content is not worth buying. Because that is not what I am saying.

Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series were admittedly extremely long blog posts because I needed to be thorough in establishing the foundation and context upon which to present this and future Revit content reviews.


  • Let me be clear in advance. I have no interest what so ever in trying invalidate any efforts on the part of the Revit Collection content creation team. I admire the initiative that has been taken by this team to make content and to set up a website that clearly offers and an extensive range of budget interior design families.
  • I hope that this site continues to sell content but I also hope that perhaps some of my feedback will be taken on board to help make the content more user-friendly for large firms to use on projects.


I feel that it’s important to share my views in the hope that the industry receives the feedback needed to continually improve. Things to know and understand before I post my findings below:

  • I have outlined the legal licensing agreement which was current at the time when we purchased their content but you will need to confirm if any legal permission have changed by contacting Revit Collection directly prior to purchasing any content.

I am only going to highlight a few key points in regards to the Revit Collection range, in general.


BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Revit Collection3

  • The Revit Collection range in general would appeal to Interior designer the most. Most of the range includes content that is furniture or accessory based.
  • Revit families can be purchased individually and you are not forced to buy a large batch of content.
  • We did find that a small percentage of the Manufacturer specific Revit Content has been superseded and was no longer available. So please be mindful that the entire range might not reflect current Manufacturer ranges. I think that this is understandable to some degree since it would be hard for Revit Collection to keep up with the status of all Manufacturer Specific ranges.


  • The Revit Collection has an excellent licensing agreement that makes it very appealing to large firms to purchase their content. There is no licensing limitation based on number of users. In other words each component is sold as a once of purchase.
  • BEWARE: Some content creators sell their content under quite stringent legal conditions that may even insist that if a model is handed over to the client that an additional copy of content or an additional licence is required for the client’s use. This type of legal agreement can be extremely restrictive for firms that want to hand over BIM models. Fortunately this is not the case with Revit Collection.
  • None.
  • The Revit Collection families are extremely cheap to buy.
  • Most content ranges from $2-$10 per Revit family. (Initial purchase: Crazy cheap but see Disadvantage)


  • On face value this seems like an absolute bargain but unfortunately the content itself needs work so be mindful of this when purchasing it.
  • That being said – I still think it has some value to the industry if buyers are made aware of what they are buying and for some firms it will work out moderately cheaper than building it from scratch. (Depending on how much clean-up or standardization needs to done.)
  • I have to say it is THE one feature that would almost put me off this range because it is so problematic, costly and time-consuming for firms to convert such content to be Non-Face-Based.
  • When we purchased this content we literally converted almost all of the content to be Non-Face-Based because we have very specific standards within our firm regarding Face-Based content use.
  • We find that the time and money invested in removing the Face-Based functionality outweighs the project and management issues/ risks that can arise from using Face-Based families blindly for no good reason. This expense which we have had to wear could however been completely avoided if the content creators were more mindful and respectful of the need for flexibility within the industry in terms of Face-Based preferences instead of imposing Face-Based workflows on their potential clients.
  • Unfortunately I found that Revit Collection was not open to my feedback in this regard and they were unwilling to consider making their content Non-Face-Based. So be mindful that their content might take some significant investment if your firm is more particular about where Face-Based content is used within the project environment.
  • Families have been assigned materials for the most part.
  • My second biggest surprise with the Revit content was in terms of materials. The website boasts images of families that seem to display really well in rendered views the families that we purchased do not include the same render materials settings even though they contain Manufacturer specific materials.
  • The material naming is inconsistent across various products and be careful to check that some families have materials included that are not part of the actual model or range.
  • These are extremely cheap Revit content that can be useful if you don’t have enough content creators in your firm to be producing interior design content.
  • It could also serve companies well who are less stringent about Revit or content standards and who are willing to use the content directly in their projects without cleaning up the content.
  • Large firms may be able to afford reworking the content to justify a boost within their library of interiors accessories and furniture.
  • Many of the items listed in Part 2 of this blog series have not been consistently applied across their content range.
  • I would consider the content to be problematic from a standardization and quality point of view but most of the content can be cleaned-up.
  • We will have to rebuild some content from scratch but simply because we have very high standards in terms of how we build and approach parametric family creation within our company standards.


Whilst this content can be useful for quick solutions on a project or to fill a gap in your company library please be mindful that the Revit Collection family range will take some significant investment to incorporate into your company if you have medium to high company or project library standards. After fixing each family the cost per family was on average $45 – $60 per family (some were more) but in most cases it was marginally cheaper than building it from scratch (but that was not always the case). So please be mindful of the appearance of it being super cheap.

I think my biggest frustration around this range would be that so much of the items that needed repairing were things that could easily be done well in the first place and the Face-Based feature adds so much extra cost to the end-user, when making it Non-Face Based would make so much more sense. For clients who prefer Face-Based content – they could alter the Non-Face based content in less than 2 minutes by using a simple (a) nesting solution or (b) add work plane based functionality. (This would be far more cost-effective for their clients!)


Please be respectful to The Revit Collection if you discuss this topic afterwards within the industry. Be mindful that as an industry we should foster a space of open learning and improvement and that is the only purpose for my continued blogging on the topic of Revit families.

In summary, I appreciate the efforts made by Revit Collection and I know that the purchase price is incredibly cheap but my best feedback to Revit Collection would be that I would much rather pay more for this content upfront ($15-$20 per family) and have it be Non-Face-Based, but only if was made consistently so that we did not have to wear such a high post-purchase clean-up cost.

I trust that this blog post series was helpful in some way.

Cheers, Michelle

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Please click LIKE and/or  SHARE this post if you enjoy these blog posts. It makes my day a bit brighter and it helps make it feel like the effort taken to prepare these posts might be worth it ;-)


Hi everyone, as promised here is my follow on post from post Part 1 of Budget Revit families that covers a list of what I might expect to see in budget Revit content.

My comments below might look like a steep list of considerations but please remind yourself that budget Revit content is usually built to be sold multiple times, for years on end and to a global audience.

All screen grab images below are based on real-life budget family examples that I have sourced from content that is being sold to the public. Please understand that I am not trying to personally attack or embarrass anyone.

THE PRIMARY GOAL: Make it easy for your clients to re-use or rename subcategories to their company standard by:

  • Being consistent in subcategory naming across all of your ranges.
  • Assigning all geometry and line work to a subcategory (Max 3-4 custom subcategories in a family)
  • Apply good naming conventions (E.g. no Manufacturer specific subcategories)
  • Don’t define one subcategory to represent more than one object type. See example #3 below.

EXAMPLE # 1 – Not assigning geometry to a subcategory.

BimBoomBam_Assign subcat

EXAMPLE #2 – Manufacturer specific subcategories don’t work
This is an example of how subcategories from content can clutter a project file very quickly. I loaded in several families into a test project and my Object Style menu of subcategories expanded out of control. In a real project situation this amount of imported subcategories would be a big disruption to the project team. That means that all these subcategories would have to be renamed before they could be added to a company library (assuming the company Revit library is well-managed.)

  • All of these items could have been placed on 4-5 subcategories (As shown on the right in image below)


I recommend using the ANZRS subcategory list or some other industry Revit subcategory list (regardless of the region that you are creating content for) if helps keep things more consistent in the industry.

EXAMPLE #3 – A subcategory should not represent multiple object types
Option 1: Assign the bench and stool to separate subcategories in the same or separate families.
[ Left Column = Original subcategory, Right Column = My suggestion ]
Option 2: Place all movable furniture into one subcategory for all your content ranges.
[ Left Column = Original subcategory, Right Column = My second suggestion ]

THE PRIMARY GOAL: The client should not have to go through your content and assign line work (Symbolic or Sketch) to a subcategory. It can be very time consuming for your client to fix this oversight.

  • All Masking region sketch line work and symbolic line work must be assigned to the appropriate Subcategory and not to the Family Category.
    [ Left Column = Original subcategory, Right Column = My suggestion ]
    BimBoomBam_Assign subcat4

THE PRIMARY GOAL: To ensure that the family already has a material representation as a starting point and to make it easy for the client to integrate your Manufacturer-specific-materials into their library.

EXAMPLE #1 – All geometry in the host & nested families must have a material.

  • Use Autodesk materials where it’s appropriate. E.g. If the Autodesk ‘Glass’ material works well then use it, but don’t rename it or make your own custom version.
  • Where a Manufacturer-specific product is available in a specific range of colours make the effort to match the RGB values of the shading and basic render colour so that the object colour is aligned with the colour of the actual product.

EXAMPLE #2: Manufacturer’s material naming and colour setting

BimBoomBam_Manufacturer Materials
TIP: I find using a prefix of ‘Z_’, “XX_’ works well because it helps to sort the Manufacturer-specific-materials towards the bottom of a project material list and won’t interfere with company specific materials. I also like putting the manufacturer’s name in CAPS because visually it easy to scan.

Question: What if a Manufacturer’s product comes in too many material options?

  • (a) For budget Revit families I think it’s acceptable for the content creator to pre-create 5-8 materials at most. After that your client can add the rest if they wish.
  • (b) Or if a product comes in more than 8-10 material options the I think it could be created in ‘concept-white’ but only if this is stated clearly on the family description on the website that the family only has one material, namely white.
  • I would prefer option (a) if possible.

EXAMPLE #3 – Unused Autodesk default materials should be removed

  • All unused Autodesk materials should be removed from the host and nested family. BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-4

Question: What about generic Revit content?

  • White works wonders on generic content. (Please avoid using ‘Default’ Grey – it looks awful and it means that your family will need immediate editing before it can be used.)
  • It must be clearly stated on the website that the family only has one material, namely white.

EXAMPLE #5: Material as instance or Type parameters
If a family is available in 5 frame colours and numerous fabrics then there would obviously be far too many types to define in terms of variable combinations.

  • In example above the family was changes so that the frame colour was a Type Parameter and the fabric option as an instance parameter.
  • See my Manufacturers Page on this blog site to understand more about some common pitfalls if you are a Manufacturer reading this post.


  • Use the Autodesk default line patterns and avoid custom line patterns.
  • Don’t change the names of the Autodesk line patterns.

EXAMPLE #1 – Keep it simple.
[ Left Column = Original line patterns, Right Column = My suggestion ]

EXAMPLE #2 – Remove all unused line patterns from the family.

  • Remove all imported line patterns.
  • Your clients should not be cleaning your families for you!


  • All host and nested families must have a Family Type name defined.
  • A Family Type name should never be a repeat of the family name.

EXAMPLE #1: Type name in the Project environment
If a Family Type name has not been defined Revit will simply duplicate the family name as a type name when loaded into your client’s project file. This looks unprofessional.


EXAMPLE #2: Family Type name in the family Editor of a nested family
The sample applies to nested families. Make sure to define the Family Type name of the nested family and double-check the naming in the host family.



  • If the Revit family is placed in the Revit project then I believe that it should be visible and occupy some graphical space in all views, regardless of view scales.
  • Leave it up to your clients to customize their own Visibility setting preferences over and above the basics of adding detailed elements to only be visible in ‘Fine’ view.

EXAMPLE #1 – No geometry in Medium of Coarse View settings 

  • It is far more time-consuming for your clients to redefine the visibility if you have adjusted the default visibility settings on every geometry or line work element in your family. BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-25

EXAMPLE #2 – Avoid customizing the visibility of the family too much
Be careful of oversimplifying too much. In this example the cushions need to still consume some space in Coarse and Medium views otherwise it will look silly.

  • Define content creator source or contact details as a bare minimum.
  • The Revit default parameters should not be used to define content creator information.


  • Keep the Autodesk URL for product/ manufacturer website information.
  • Keep Type comments blank or use it to describe the product but don’t use it to define content creation information.
  • Add your own parameters for Content creation information.


  • Ideally all Reference Planes in all views should be set to 3D in all views unless there is good reason to override a Reference plane to be 2D in a specific view.
  • Clean and tidy reference planes are not essential but boy-oh-boy they certainly leave a lasting impression. A clean family that looks planned out and neat makes your client feel that they received value in purchasing your Revit family and that care was taken in making it.



  • Keep to the industry standard of using ‘View 1’ as your thumbnail View in all 3D Revit families.
  • Use the default views and their default view names.
  • Don’t add extra Views to families. * Exception: Some family templates only have the one {3D} view. If that is the case duplicate the {3D} view and rename it to ‘View 1’ or ‘Thumbnail view’.

EXAMPLE #1 – Adding custom views

  • By adding extra views your client may need to delete the view and reset the thumbnail settings. this is unnecessary re-work for your client.

Please define the Thumbnail preview as part of your final content creation audit.



  • The wonderful thing about a lot of the Manufacturer specific content is it does not always NEED to be parametric. So only build families to be parametric if its appropriate! See Example 1, below.

EXAMPLE #1 – Is that dimension label really needed?

  • E.g. The sofa arm height will not be scheduled out by Interior Designers as a general industry practice. So in this example this parameter label is not required at all because the family is representing a Manufacturer Specific object that should not be built to have this specific parametric functionality.


  • The parameter naming should make sense.
  • Refer to ANZRS for some guidelines is unsure of how to approach parameter naming. This post is not about necessarily following ANZRS standards but there are some checklists and guidelines that you will hopefully find useful.
  • Avoid using codes or single letters to define a parameter name. The only exception in my view is structural families where some manufacturer catalogs have dimensions defined specifically by letters or specific code abbreviations.


  • The ‘S’ and ‘C’ parameter below was used in this family to define if the table was a ‘Circular’ or ‘Square’ table.
  • The ‘C’ or ‘S’ abbreviation is not immediately obvious to the Revit modeller and it means that the Revit BIM Manager will probably have to rename all your parameters before adding your families to their library.

In the next family you can see that the content creator really meant well. He built all the various options into a single family so that drafters would not have to rotate the family themselves within the project in order to build their unique bookshelf system.

This is the Revit family that represents the ‘L shape’ of this bookshelf range.


Whilst I admire the content creator’s keenness here I think that the end result is less user-friendly for the client from a content library maintenance point of view. Essentially we have four pieces of geometry (identical in sizing) that represent the same object. So keep your client’s general library maintenance requirements in mind too.

Below is example of another real budget family where the family is trying to do too much.
This family was later slit into three separate families by our firm in order to make it usable for our drafting team.


Admittedly the whole debate about whether to use Face-Based or Non-Face-Based families is a controversial subject that I am not going to cover now. But, as a content creator it’s important to realize that some firms use Faced-Based families whilst many will simply refuse to use them.

  • So I suggest that you either offer (a)  Non-Face-Based families or (b) Face-Based  and Non-Face-Based family options for the same object. This an easily be done by nesting the Non-Face-Based version into a Face-Based template. (It means a slightly larger file size but I think the industry will see that you mean well by offering both versions.)
  • It is very time-consuming for your client to convert a Face-Based family into a Non-Face-Based family. But it takes 2 minutes to change a Non-Face Based family into a Face-Based Family with simple nesting.

That’s about all I wanted to cover as key features that I would like to see in all Revit content that is being shared or sold to the industry. This is nothing new. ANZRS already covered all of these topics in detail many years ago. We are beginning to see signs of improvement but I would like the improvement to be really noticeable. I hope that the industry will provide more feedback to professional content creators and Manufacturers about the content that they are receiving so that we can all benefit from Revit families that are far less time-consuming to integrate into specific company standards.

The bottom line as I see it is: Content creators that go the extra mile will sell their content easily, even if it costs a bit extra. Budget content can still be made well and sold repeatedly to justify the effort required to make it. *


I hope that many Content creators find this post useful. I will be doing a review in Part 3 on some budget content that we recently purchased. That will be released in a few weeks time.

If you find a good range of Manufacturer’s Revit content or budget Revit families please contact me – I’d love to know about it ;-)

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Please click “Like”  and Share if you enjoy these blog posts. It makes my day a bit brighter and it helps make it feel like the effort taken to prepare these posts might be worth it ;-)
Take care, Michelle


BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_GoldclubThis post is the first of a 3 PART SERIES where I discuss the concept of budget Revit Families that are currently available for purchase on the web.

  •  In this blog post (Part 1) I want to begin the discuss budget Revit families, in general terms, and reflect on what might be fair to expect from a Revit family that can cost as little as $3 or $5, up to $25 per family.
  • Part 2 – I will outline the technical considerations that budget Revit families should take into account in my view.
  • Part 3 – In the last post of this series I will review a specific range of budget Revit content that is currently available for purchase on the web.
  • I will release the entire 3 PART BLOG POST SERIES over a period of about 4-6 weeks to allow readers to have time to read and digest the content of each post before publishing the next associated blog post.


So how has this topic come about in that sweet busy head of mine?
Recently we purchased a large batch of Revit content from a company that specializes in budget Revit content that are in fact Manufacture specific. It was certainly not the first range of budget content that I had come across over the years, nor would it be the last. I saw a lot of room for improvement across a range of more than 250 families and it got me thinking…..

How do I review a batch of content on my blog that is so cheap to purchase without coming across as an absolute tyrant? After all, most of the Revit families that we had purchased had cost the same as a single hamburger.

Initially I felt bad for my noticeable irritation as I started to audit some of the budget families that we had purchased. Most of my frustration stemmed from the time-consuming ramification and unnecessary re-work that would be needed to integrate these families into our library. There was a lot of clean-up to be done simply because these families were made in a way that seemed to suggest that the content creator/s had not been not aware of the subtleties of the Revit system integration process.

I noticed myself justifying the possible reasons why some short cuts might have been taken. “Don’t be so harsh, after all it only cost $5 Michelle!” I thought. I knew full well that some families would have taken an hour or perhaps even a few hours to make so $5 was still great value. But how much work would it take to get them up to our company standard?

I reflected some more as I cleaned up yet another family….BimBoomBam_Revit_Burger

Comparing a budget Revit family purchase with a hamburger was perhaps a gross simplification on my part. After all the burger could only be sold once and my comparison did not take into consideration the true income potential of selling the same Revit family multiple times to different clients.

I appreciate that with this type of business model the content creator assumes all the risk. He or she has no idea if they will in fact sell their family 1, 5, 20 or 100 times.
I thought to myself ,“I imagine that the trick of course is to secure repeat business and social media could be used to boost sales if your content is well made and cheap”. 
Don’t get me wrong – I am not proposing that it’s a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact I suspect that the effort in building a website and making the Revit content under such conditions of risk might not always be worth it. But perhaps it could be lucrative – if your product was renowned for being consistent, excellent quality and offering good value and benefits for integration?


So, if I take into account the fact that these families can be re-sold multiple times – can I then justify my personal expectation that even budget Revit families must meet a bare minimum quality/ benchmark or standard?

I feel that it is safe for me to suggest that if a content creator becomes known for consistent quality content  then there should be enough money to be made, per family, over time to warrant to additional time that may be required in creating a professionally made product. After all buying something that has been well made and at a cheap price can be more time efficient and cost-effective (most of the time) than having staff create the content themselves in the midst of project deadlines. But if the budget content is made with little understanding of how Revit system design is actually meant to work then the process of buying such cheap content might potentially become counter-productive.

Part of my frustration about the quality of budget Revit content arises from the fact that many of the details that take time to repair on budget families would take very little extra time for the content creators to do ‘right’, the first time round. ( E.g. Defining a Subcategory, Material or Family Type name takes as long regardless if you name it poorly or not.) In my experience the time that it takes to make a Revit Family half heartedly is not much less than making a Revit family well. BUT if a Revit family has been made with competence and Revit System empathy the added value to the consumer is ENORMOUS!

So, I would like to declare that I think ANY Revit content sold should at least meet a minimum quality standard regardless of price per unit.


So you ask… “Michelle, what do you think is a bare minimum that any content should have in order to be a product of professional integrity and great value?”

In PART 2 of this blog post series I will try to cover some of the basics of what I would consider my personal bare-minimum-benchmark for any content that is said to be professionally made – regardless of the purchase or commission price that is paid. It is my hope that more industry experts will begin to realize that they can secure commercial leverage from creating Revit content that is consistently made that is specifically designed to be easy to integrate into customized company Revit systems.

“As I see it Design, Documentation and Engineering firms are becoming more informed about how to customize their own company Revit and BIM standards. They are becoming increasingly selective about the content that they allow into their projects and libraries. Sure – we still have many Revit cowboys in the industry who are ‘just winging it’ and allowing any quality families into their projects and libraries.

BUT….THE GAP between the Revit cowboys and informed Revit/Bim firms (who are investing in customized Revit systems)  is INCREASING.

And in my view: It is that ever-increasing GAP that will give high performance Revit/BIM firms commercial leverage in years to come.  ”

~ Michelle Van Kolck

It is for this reason very reason that I believe that is becoming more important that Manufacturers and Professional Content Creators educate themselves about what the industry truly needs in terms of Revit family functionality. Overcomplicated content that is problematic to use or integrate is simply not what our industry needs or wants in terms of representing Manufacture specific content in our project models. Professional content creators that are paid to create content that will be publicly available should focus on improving the speed and efficiency with which Design and Engineering firms can integrate and tweak their content into their company specific Revit/BIM systems.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Mime_grassLet’s see if the grass is greener in my next post…..

Cheers, Michelle

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Please click LIKE and/or  SHARE this post if you enjoy these blog posts. It makes my day a bit brighter and it helps make it feel like the effort taken to prepare these posts might be worth it ;-)


It’s not often that I am truly pleased by what I see when I open up Manufacture made Revit content, but this time I was pleasantly caught off guard, to say the least. This batch of content is the best manufacturer content that I have ever seen to date in terms of the measures that I consider important.


Now before I go into detail in terms of my review please note that this post only covers the specific ranges listed below. The Capral Aluminium family ranges that we recently integrated into our Global library include:

  • CAPRAL_419-Flushline_DG-100mm
  • CAPRAL_419-Flushline_DG-150mm
  • CAPRAL_419-Flushline_DG-150mm_50Pocket
  • CAPRAL_R1406_400-Narrowline
  • CAPRAL_R1409_CurtainWall_CW-150 (Single and Double Glazed)
  • CAPRAL_R1411_600-Narrowline

So why was I so impressed? It’s simple. When I look at Manufacturer’s content that may be suitable for Regional or Global library integration I always look at the amount of work that it is going to take to convert the content to a customized company standard. At Woods Bagot we spend a lot of time investing in Revit System Development and as a result we always need to adjust line weights, pen patterns, subcategories, materials and key data fields to ensure the new content does not disrupt our current documentation system.

Here are the top features that made this content specifically easy to update to our company standards.


  • The Reference Planes were all appropriate, extremely tidy and there were not too many of them, especially for non-parametric content.
  • One of my few criticisms of this range was that the default Centre Left/Right and Centre Front/Back were left to be their original family template length. This is generally not a good idea because it causes all thumbnail views to zoom out to extents and the thumbnail reference becomes meaningless.
  • This meant that I had to tidy the Centre Left/Right and Centre Front/Back reference planes in every family but considering the neat state of everything else it really was a minor inconvenience.

BBB_Capral_Ref Planes1



  • All unused Autodesk default line patterns had been removed from all the family files. (This means that no Autodesk default line work would contaminate our projects.)
  • I also appreciate that they used the Autodesk default line work where they needed to and that they did not create their own custom line patterns. (That way if a company did forget to swop out the line patterns at least they only end up with two Autodesk default line patterns in their project files.)


BBB_Capral_Fill pattens

  • All unused default Autodesk filled regions and fill patterns had been removed.
  • The fill patterns that remained were consistently named across all the families in the various ranges and the fill pattern naming was simple and appropriate. There was no excessive or needless use of dashes, underscores and manufacturer references in the naming.
  • I renamed the filled regions to match our company standard but this was reasonably quick and easy to do and it was a delight not to have to step over unused filled regions.



  • The subcategory naming was clear, well-considered, consistent and SIMPLE !
  • The way that these subcategories have been named shows that they have taken into consideration how their clients might need to control the line weights and visibility of the elements within the project environment. They have taken a high-level approach in defining the subcategories in terms of items that are visible in section (They called “Extrusion”) as opposed to item that would display uncut and as “Elevations” elements. I do not mind their naming strategy since I think it allowed them to keep the number of subcategories across the various ranges to a minimum.
  • All the families had only 3-4 custom subcategories which I think is an excellent benchmark to aim for with Manufacturer’s content. It allows some range of graphical control without being excessive. With 4 custom subcategories in each family it was reasonably quick to update to our company standards.
  • It was magnificent not to see any Manufacturer names in the subcategory naming. (My pet hate…. e.g. “Capral Glazing” etc.) It shows that whoever made this content actually understands how View Templates are used in a project environment. (How refreshing!)
  • I converted their subcategories to match our company standards but I believe that it is very reasonable for BIM or Content Managers to expect to do that when adjusting Manufacture content to their Revit/BIM system standard.



  • A few families were missed in the auditing process but overall these Revit families had no used default Autodesk materials in the families. This was great to see and saved me a few hours of clean-up.
  • In the few cases where the materials had snuck through the families had used nested families and I imagine that the re-loading of the nested family at some stage of the auditing process might have caused the materials the sneak back in. (Since the Detail Item Family template does not start off with materials loaded.)
  • On the whole a great effort though, and the effort was much appreciated.


  • Since these families are Detail Items it makes no sense to have materials in the file but unfortunately Autodesk Revit will automatically add the default materials, fill patterns and line patterns back into any file that is nested and edited directly from the family. So beware of this trap.
  • Always save out your nested families onto your server and edit them directly. This will avoid all the Autodesk shrapnel from being pushed back into crisp, clean Revit families.



  • This was the best surprise of all. There was no excessive data and needless parameters that overloaded the menu. All the data was simple, easy to understand and relevant.
  • I definitely prefer the concise approach taken with this Manufacturer. I appreciate that Manufacturer’s want their products specified in projects but I think that Manufacturer’s sometimes mistake overloading Revit families with excess data as an act of service. I think this is inaccurate perception of added value. In my experience excess use of data and parameters in Manufacturer’s content usually results in drafter’s getting irritated by the excess visual noise/ data that they have to fall over for the remainder of the project life-cycle.
  • A product website URL that is kept live and up to date is far more useful than rows and rows product data parameters that are forced into our Revit project files and libraries.
  • Room for improvement: A few families had their family Type name missing but almost all the families had a type name defined.


BBB_Capral_Nest naming1

  • All nested Family File names were well named. There were a few nested families that had Family Type names that were the same as the family name but in general most nested families had a type name of “Type 1” or similar, which is recommended best practice in my view.
  • Some of the families did use family nesting. It did not bother me that much since all the nested families were only one level deep, they were simple, very tidy and it was less than 15-20% of range from memory that had much nesting.
  • I think there were a handful of families in the one range that had up to 4 simple and clean nested families (this is a bit much for my preferences, generally) but the host families still worked well and the file size was not excessive.
  • I would naturally prefer that Revit families have as little nesting as possible, if practical of course.
  • Any nesting choices that I make are always subject to the “future editability rule”. I.e. “How hard is it going to be for me to fix, tweak or edit a family (that was not made by me, or that was made by a Manufacturer) if it’s too complex and if no nesting is used?”


The Family Type name get’s duplicated (as shown in image above) when a nested family is added to a host family BEFORE the Family Type name has been defined in the nested family file. Simply rename the Family Type name of the nested family in the host family and remember to save a copy of the nested family onto your server for quick and efficient future editing and reloading.


BBB_Capral_RVT files

I have not integrated these Curtain Wall (system families) into our library or company sample files yet because we will probably go the extra step and test importing the details directly into the system families for automatic detailing functionality in the Project environment. That being said these sample files are made with the same attentiveness as all their detail files and I feel certain that the same quality will follow through all their RVT sample files. We will most likely invest the time to go the extra step but I have a few other things to juggle for a few weeks ;-)



  • This content was immaculately audited. It was professionally made and I am pleased with the result.
  • The content was not overly complicated or smothered in endless and inappropriate Manufacturer labels. (E.g. where subcategories, fill patterns, line work patterns and parameter naming actually contain the Manufacturer’s name.)
  • We don’t expect a Manufacturer to be able to guess our preferred naming in terms of subcategories but keeping it simple and non-branded shows class and suggests that the Manufacturer understands the nature of our documentation and design workflows/ data management and Revit modeling business.
  • It is apparent to me that whoever made this range made an effort to ensure that their Revit content would solve more problems than they would create. I imagine their content creator/s either have experience documenting on projects or make a concerted effort to understand the context within which their Revit content would be used.

Well done Capral Aluminum. We would love to integrate all your content in to our Revit Library if the quality stays this high and consistent!





Till next time….. I trust this review was helpful
Cheers, Michelle

Best file clean-up habit – ever!

Hi everyone,


Life is so busy right now for me. We moved sold our house and relocated about six weeks ago and I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. I wanted to touch base to give you the best file management tip you’ll probably ever get.

While I was busy unpacking the endless stream of boxes in our new home in April I began to feel frustrated by the enormity of the task. It seemed that the unpacking and cleaning process was never-ending. Every time I walked into a room and unpacked another box I was left with more bits to put away, more to clean and a messier room. I started to dread opening another box because it seemed that all I was accomplishing was simply spreading the mess and chaos. In the midst of the mayhem I remembered my all-important cleaning/ organization practice that I usually do quite routinely at home and at work. I started implementing it right away and slowly, but steadily I started to see a difference.


So what did I start doing differently? It truly is a simple practice and almost even too obvious to mention but as I was unpacking yet another box in my kitchen I thought that this might be a helpful blog post for some of my readers.

So here it is. I consistently and habitually left every room in a cleaner and more organized state than when I had entered it. Yes – it’s that simple – every time I entered a room I would scan to see if there was anything out-of-place and I would fix it right there and then. I would spend about 5 minutes tidying up, sorting things our or just making the room more presentable. I made sure that I never allowed my sprucing habit to distract me from my main purpose or task. I remained focused on my initial intention for entering that room in the first place but I just added on a few minutes here and there to improve the room order at the same time.

So how does this related to Revit files or project management? It’s easy. I suggest that you train yourself (and ideally your team) to do the following:

Every time that you open up a Revit project file spend the first or last 10 minutes cleaning up and re-organizing the project file. Make sure to manage the time that you devote to this practice. It’s best not to allow your file clean-up to blow out or take over doing the work required for that day.


Just start with the simple things.

For example:

  • Check your view naming or can the unused lines be removed?
  • Do you really need 300 materials in the file?
  • Slowly and surely start de-cluttering and refining the project file.
  • If you are working on a worksetted project be sure to discuss any significant changes with your team and see if they will join you in a regular daily clean-up routine.
  • Could the project specific families and type names be clearer or consistently named? (NOTE: Be mindful not to rename families that are being used from your library because it will affect your ability to re-load studio families in your project to receive updates or improvements.)


Work as a team to keep your file clean and organized and you will also find that you or your Revit leader will not need to ‘stop the press’ as often either and hopefully also not spend days fixing things after months of neglected file maintenance. Within a few weeks your Revit files will be noticeably easier to work in. Productivity will automatically increase because everyone will be able to navigate through the shared environment with more ease and efficiency.

Give it a go, and see what a difference this simple trick can make to your project files and libraries. It should not be the Revit/BIM Managers job to constantly be cleaning up after the drafting team members. Avoid sloppy work habits and remember to consider that other staff may need to work on your files in future too so take pride in leaving your work in a neat and well-managed state.


TIP: If you have a company standard make sure to adjust your changes or clean-up attempts to match it, thereby reducing the number of non-standard project settings and practices within your firm. The more consistently your teams can work to an agreed standard the less confused teams will be when moving on to other projects in your company.


Happy juggling….



I am greatly concerned about the general industry trend where firms are simply adding too much clutter/data/detail/ additional functionality to their families and models without enough rigorous thought about exactly why they feel the need to do this.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_OopsObjects and projects are becoming overly complicated to interact with. A family with 50 or even 100 parameters is becoming the norm and parametric functionality is assumed as an almost automatic requirement. Almost every dimension can be scheduled in projects and the detailing levels of Revit families just seem to keep increasing. I think that this approach is a really bad idea. The more complex we make Revit/BIM objects or projects – the more conscious and subconscious decisions are required just to interact and navigate through the model environment.

Here are some thoughts on possibly rethinking how we evaluate why and how we choose to build company systems and Revit content:

TIP #1 – How is our Revit/ BIM content impacting project workflows?


Before following the BIM industry frenzy of adding more and more detail into projects, schedules and component libraries maybe ask this question:

  • Why are we adding more complex families to our libraries and what proportion of the drafting team does this impact?
    • If it solves a problem for one team member that does detailing but creates a headache for the remaining 20 people on the team then it might not be the best solution and perhaps 2D detailing in combination with simpler Revit families should be considered instead.

TIP #2Beware of creating unnecessarily complicated Revit content


Bear in mind:

  • The more data your families hold, the more data drafting teams will have to manage, maintain and update.
  • The more complicated your families are (in model, detail or data form) – the more advanced the drafters will need to be in using Revit in order to be able to interact with or edit your content. These families will also be more likely to break as well when drafters try to edit them.
  • If you have a high staff turnover (this requires honest reflection) then consider building a Revit/BIM strategy that caters for inexperienced to intermediate Revit users instead of needing advanced Revit users. Basic to intermediate Revit users are cheaper and easier to replace than trying to find ‘Revit guns’ for every project.
  • You will also need a highly skilled content creator to manage your library if it is very complicated to edit and maintain. Such specialized skills might be harder to find.

TIP #3 – Avoid creating Revit content that is designed to step over training issues within your firm.


It can be very tempting to create families that do some of the more complicated tasks automatically for the drafters simply in the aim to reduce risks and improve accuracy. To some degree this can be smart and in other ways it can also result in families that are possibly too detailed and cumbersome to work with because they are doing so much.

  • Try not to absolve drafting teams from all accountability. Sometimes making a few conscious decisions along the way can be helpful prompts to assist drafting teams to make informed design decisions.
  • Whilst highly detailed Revit families can be used to overcome shortcomings in staff knowledge I would suggest that firms instead invest in (1) a well-considered and thoroughly audited details library and (2) technical drafting training for their staff instead.


“Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD…”

Hope that this has been useful food for thought.



This post is not Revit related but it’s spoken by Designer, David Kelley. He speaks about creativity and innovative design. Note: These videos may not come through on email notifications if you are following my blog. Please go directly to my blog to view videos.

Video 1 is approximately 13 minutes in length.

Video 2 is approximately 12 minutes in length.

Let me know if you take up on a project after seeing this video. I’d love to know about it.

All the best.


My role in ANZRS has changed

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_NewOpportunitiesThe biggest change in recent weeks is that I have officially resigned from ANZRS as Project Facilitator and as part of the management board. I remain interested in ANZRS and completely supportive of all the work that we have put into this project.

Chris Needham and Belinda Hodkinson will now be the primary deciders on the future direction of ANZRS. I am unwavering in my confident that whatever choices they make on behalf of ANZRS will be well-considered, responsible and with the most appropriate outcome in mind.

ChrisNeedham      BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_ANZRS_Belinda_Hodkinson

I would like to acknowledge and thank Chris and Belinda for bravely joining a project that they never signed up for in the first place. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with them both. I remain proud of what we have already accomplished with this initiative. I am delighted to say that the quality of shared and sold Revit content is improving slowly, but noticeably, so all our effort was not in vain. There is still much work to do in this sector to improve the integrity and quality of Revit content and I will do my part in creating further awareness on this blog.


For me, personally, I feel that it is important to remind the industry (and this committee of volunteers) that ANZRS was always intended to be issued as 95% complete in version 3. The reason for this strategy was clearly defined early on in the project. Our promise to the industry was that no more than 5% of all ANZRS content would be refined or altered once the official completed version (namely version 3) had been released.

I wish Belinda, Chris, ANZRS and the ANZRS volunteers all the best for 2015 whilst I look forward to a year of change and much-needed variety.

Regards, Michelle


Fortunately my Co-Author of ANZRS title remains after all those years of enormous effort ! “That’s Mrs. Author, thank you very much”


Dear readers,

I was hoping to get some feedback. One of my blog readers has given me feedback to say that the image on the header of my blog is showing up blank and that there is a big space between the blog header and my posts.


Please let me know if you are seeing the same thing. I have checked this by looking at my blog on PC Laptop, Apple iBook, iPad and my mobile phone and I simply cannot duplicate the issue. If you have any experience on WordPress or have seen this before please let me know how to fix this.

The blog header should look something like this:


It would be much appreciated if you can give me feedback if you are not seeing the same thing.

So, who is the genius that can help me out?