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Thread: Master's thesis research - a Revit add-on for small and medium construction companies

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    Master's thesis research - a Revit add-on for small and medium construction companies

    Good day everyone,
    I am hoping to find some practitioners (Site Engineers, Construction Managers, Schedulers, Cost Estimators, BIM coordinators, Consultants, Designers with understanding of the on-site BIM implementation, etc.) working with Revit interested in answering a few questions about what kind of additional functionalities could improve Revit's applicability for Small and Medium Contracting Enterprises (SMCEs), i.e. for small residential projects. My thesis' aim is to create an add-on in Revit's Application Programming Interface (API) (C#) that could provide some value for those companies and make the Revit's users' lives easier.
    The tool is intended to be user-friendly and not introducing additional complexity to the works. Even though I have some ideas, a list of functions to implement in the add-on as well as general design have not yet been determined. I worked as a full-time structural designer for 1.5 years, yet I do not have a hands-on experience from the site. It is of crucial importance to me that my add-on will be applicable in real-life situations and that is why I decided to perform interviews with experienced practitioners and later also evaluate the functionality. I will probably do some of them offline, at Aarhus, Denmark, where I study but I also have a feeling that reaching out to a larger audience online could provide additional good results.
    So here are the questions - if you do not have an opinion or do not want to share then just avoid the particular question:

    1. What is your companies name and size (employee-wise)?
    2. What is your job position and what are your main responsibilities?
    3. For how long have you been using BIM technologies?
    4. What are you using BIM for in your work?
    5. What kind of software does your company use (BIM or non-BIM)? What is it used for?
    6. In your opinion, what are the main 3 reasons why some of the small and medium contracting companies do not use BIM?
    7. On what kind of projects did you find use of BIM the most beneficial and how did it benefit the project?
    8. Use of which Revit functions is the most beneficial for your projects?
    9. Does your company use add-ons for Revit?
    10. If yes - which ones and what are their pros and cons? If no – why not?
    11. What Revit functions you use are not sufficient / optimally working in your opinion? How could they be improved? What is Revit lacking that could enhance the user’s experience from your perspective?
    12. Do you use any kind of “home-made” supporting tools (add-ons, worksheets, macros, etc.) for your company related to contracting work that improve project’s efficiency? If yes what are they and what is their purpose? If no, would you consider using them?
    13. What to avoid when creating an add-on your company would use?
    14. Any additional suggestions for a Revit add-on designed for an SMCE?

    Questions 8 and 11 are of the highest importance for the research. Also please ask if something about any of the questions is unclear. I can revise them. Additionally, I would be happy to start a discussion on the subject.
    It is possible that I might want to cite answers from some of you in my report if you will give me the permission of course.
    Looking forward to your responses!

    P.S. Not sure if I should post here or a general subforum. ><

  2.    #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by P_Makowski View Post
    Good day everyone,
    I am hoping to find some practitioners (Site Engineers, Construction Managers, Schedulers, Cost Estimators, BIM coordinators, Consultants, Designers with understanding of the on-site BIM implementation, etc.) working with Revit interested in answering a few questions about what kind of additional functionalities could improve Revit's applicability for Small and Medium Contracting Enterprises (SMCEs), i.e. for small residential projects.....clip....><
    I can provide some less structured feedback. There might be a disconnect with reality that you should investigate first. If you're targeting "small residential projects" practitioners, as in "single family residential", at least here in USA, the team of consultants on a project might be just one, and maybe two or three at most typically. Other than the architect, it is rare if anyone else on the team will be using Revit nor any form of BIM capable software, and if so, only Structural. Certainly not Civil, Survey, and most definitely not the contactor. The projects are too small for CM & Estimators. Contractors for these types of projects don't typically utilize CAD in any form, nor in the USA do we (Architects) typically provide contractors Bill of Materials.

    This of course is just my own experience of many years doing custom single family residential projects, which might not be consistent elsewhere. The lofty goals of putting together a software solution of completely modeling a project, with all detail including specifications in the model, just isn't practical at this time for us, considering the lack of need and fees involved. The entire industry is made up of very small businesses, with everyone (the design professionals and contractors, subcontractors) doing basically their own thing independently.

    A few years ago, I worked together with a design-build contractor for a new large high end custom home to test Revit's complete BIM capacity, mainly to produce a Bill of Materials. We hired an outside Revit firm whose primary activity was providing this same service successfully to large scale developers for single family tract spec homes. For those developers, it was model once, build many, so the economy of scale worked. For a one up custom home, in our case it did not. The Revit firm used it as a lost leader, and I never saw the actual total time they put into it, but it certainly was way way above the contracted fee. We found two general results. #1 - to create an accurate complete BoM added an inordinate amount of effort, particularly when you got into the nuances of complex structural than can hard enough in 2d to work out, let alone 3d. I'm sure others will argue "not true", but we weren't inexperienced at providing detail. #2 defeated the whole purpose of the effort. NO subcontractor (none, zip, zero) was willing to use the generated BoM for their pricing and bidding. The BoM got tossed and every aspect of the project got bid normally off pdfs and prints.

    My analysis above is based on the typical project delivery methodology for my market segment. There are others providing other approaches that do use more complete BIM but it's certainly a small part of the overall industry at this time.

    I could also switch hats, and make a completely different counter argument to myself, but I'll let others do that, particularly where the industry should be or is heading....
    Dave Jones and P_Makowski like this.

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    My structured response



    1. What is your companies name and size (employee-wise)?
      • 1 + plus multiple outside consultants of many types

    2. What is your job position and what are your main responsibilities?
      • Architect + everything else

    3. For how long have you been using BIM technologies?
      • Revit V3, not sure of the date.
      • Microstation/Triforma prior, not much "I" in the BIM
      • Architrion before that, painful but fun. No "I" in the BIM.

    4. What are you using BIM for in your work?
      • Single family custom, new projects & additions/alterations

    5. What kind of software does your company use (BIM or non-BIM)? What is it used for?
      • Revit for design and technical drawings
      • Enscape inside Revit for client visualization
      • Other software? too long to list

    6. In your opinion, what are the main 3 reasons why some of the small and medium contracting companies do not use BIM?
      • Cost
      • Inertia
      • Lack of demand

    7. On what kind of projects did you find use of BIM the most beneficial and how did it benefit the project?
      • Separating "BIM" vs simply using Revit > I love developing projects in 3D, and the interconnected 3D to 2D final "drawings". It provides a much more accurate set of docs, and I can't trick myself (or others) as for how things are going together (well, yes I can)
      • "Revit" is used 100% on all projects. The amount of 3D and "BIM" varies, but 3D typically, for myself and for the client visualization.

    8. Use of which Revit functions is the most beneficial for your project
      • I guess the base concept of Revit, which we had from V1, connected 3D to 2D drawings.

    9. Does your company use add-ons for Revit?
      • yes

    10. If yes - which ones and what are their pros and cons? If no – why not?
      • Enscape - because it works, and far exceeds Revit's rendering
      • Ideate ReNumber, nice to have
      • several minor ones, but nothing critical...

    11. What Revit functions you use are not sufficient / optimally working in your opinion? How could they be improved? What is Revit lacking that could enhance the user’s experience from your perspective?
      • ​PDF import, lacking
      • Eaves and gables - nothing built in that replicates reality, easily.
      • Windows - Certainly lots of flexibility but requires much family editing. I get jealous of other 3D software solutions.

    12. Do you use any kind of “home-made” supporting tools (add-ons, worksheets, macros, etc.) for your company related to contracting work that improve project’s efficiency? If yes what are they and what is their purpose? If no, would you consider using them?
      • Outside of Revit, yeah lots of tools, but no data exchange with Revit.
      • Bulk file renamers for pdfs (not home-made) and pdf compilers, all outside of Revit

    13. What to avoid when creating an add-on your company would use?
    14. Any additional suggestions for a Revit add-on designed for an SMCE?
    Last edited by FBlome; October 6th, 2018 at 06:44 PM.
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  4.    #4
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    @FBlome

    Thank you so much for your exhaustive response! I would for sure like to use your feedback in my research. I would also like to comment a little on what you mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by FBlome View Post
    I can provide some less structured feedback. There might be a disconnect with reality that you should investigate first. If you're targeting "small residential projects" practitioners, as in "single family residential", at least here in USA, the team of consultants on a project might be just one, and maybe two or three at most typically. Other than the architect, it is rare if anyone else on the team will be using Revit nor any form of BIM capable software, and if so, only Structural. Certainly not Civil, Survey, and most definitely not the contactor. The projects are too small for CM & Estimators. Contractors for these types of projects don't typically utilize CAD in any form, nor in the USA do we (Architects) typically provide contractors Bill of Materials.

    This of course is just my own experience of many years doing custom single family residential projects, which might not be consistent elsewhere. The lofty goals of putting together a software solution of completely modeling a project, with all detail including specifications in the model, just isn't practical at this time for us, considering the lack of need and fees involved. The entire industry is made up of very small businesses, with everyone (the design professionals and contractors, subcontractors) doing basically their own thing independently.
    This is actually something that doesn't surprise me. I have a so-and-so idea of how the small contracting industry looks where I come from and here the situation is quite similar. In Poland, I would even suppose that most of -let's call them- "micro" construction companies which occupy themselves with building single-family houses do not even have a computer on site. In order to "BIM-ify" this part of the market, it would probably be worth considering to develop some affordable and user-friendly mobile tools as nowadays everyone owns a smartphone.

    Either way, if I were an owner of a small design&build company I would consider using Revit as a management tool while it would also be utilized as a modeling/design tool. I believe that a lot of value coming from BIM implementation can be found on-site. More accurate and automated cost estimation and scheduling can be crucial for production cost mitigation if applied correctly (which for sure is easier said than done but still possible, IMO) and I was hoping for creating a tool that could facilitate this without introducing more complexity to the process.

    Quote Originally Posted by FBlome View Post
    This of course is just my own experience of many years doing custom single family residential projects, which might not be consistent elsewhere. The lofty goals of putting together a software solution of completely modeling a project, with all detail including specifications in the model, just isn't practical at this time for us, considering the lack of need and fees involved. The entire industry is made up of very small businesses, with everyone (the design professionals and contractors, subcontractors) doing basically their own thing independently.
    The concept of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) requires all the parties to be working in very close collaboration including the contractor even from the conceptual design phase. Do you think that it is not something that can be observed in the SME sector? BIM can be considered just a tool for IPD. Without IPD, BIM is far from showing it's full potential.

    Do you think that my idea of a design&build company (doing design and contracting) with Revit at its core has some reasoning behind it? Have you ever seen small companies using this kind of approach? I think that I might have had this concept at the back of my head when I was thinking of SMEs as I wish to conduct this kind of business myself one day. I am trying to somehow connect my Master thesis research with my future (potentially) carrier.

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