So you’ve seen the endless possibilities for creating wall types that Revit allows and now you’re excited, right? In fact, Revit ships with many preloaded wall types for all sorts of walls – stud, metal stud, gyp, brick, block, and any combination of these materials. But now you have questions.
Should I use or create walls with true dimensions for thickness, or nominal?
Should I use generic walls, representing only the boundary of the overall wall, or use compound walls that indicate the various materials to be used?
At what stage in the project should I add more detail, if not added already?
These are all great questions, and if you have found yourself asking them, you’re in good company. Many of the firms we help implement Revit ask them once the ball gets rolling.
The short answer is that there is not any ‘one-size-fits-all’ method or workflow, and based on your needs, you may find that one method works better for you in certain situations. That being said, there are certainly some things to consider that may help you make your decision. We generally give our recommendations when working with a firm, based on what have found to work well. Some firms may go a bit of a different route, if they have good reason to. We’ve seen some practices that work well, and some that have some big hiccups.
Here’s what we’ve found:
As a general rule, it’s best to use Revit as it was designed: as a dimensional correct, accurate building modeler. One of the big benefits of BIM is having reliable information that can be pulled from the model as needed. Using nominal or generic walls cheats us out of this kind of accuracy.
Some steer towards nominal walls due to a perception that actual thickness and materials complicates the matter, adding unneeded detail and slowing the model down. In most cases, these fears are unfounded. Revit is a very capable application, able to handle large amounts of detail. Views can be set to use Coarse detail if it is not necessary to see the components of the wall, speeding up that view.
Using complex walls also allows for more accurate take offs and estimates.
Now, when you’re still early in the design process, it’s not necessary to use the actual wall types that will ultimately be constructed. It’s fine to use a generic wall, though you may find it is still helpful to use a wall that as close to actual thickness as possible. Once your project has moved on to the next stage, you can swap the generic walls out with the intended wall types. Use the ‘Select All Instances’ option of your right-click menu to make this fast and easy. As always, pay very close attention to your Loc line setting so that you don’t inadvertently move the walls when switching from one type to another.
Using actual walls will enable you to really harness the power of Revit, making it easier to not only extract information as needed, but the detailing process will be quicker as well.