Revit Tutorial – Back to Basics – Creating Structural Content for Revit

It’s always a good idea to review the basics of what we do daily just in case we are missing a trick! It is all too easy to do the same as we did last week, last month, last year… In this post we look at some basic structural elements and consider how custom Revit content could be created to save time and make detailing more consistent and robust.

I often think of Revit as a digital Lego set, you have a certain number of pieces to assemble a structure, but the limitation is the variety of ‘bricks’ that are provided. For example, the three bricks below can only build simple, box like structures.

Revit Lego Bricks

The great thing with Revit is that we can create our own parametric families that are either bespoke to a project or for use in many projects. The custom families give Revit the flexibility needed to create any type of family with fast and efficient placement into projects.

Revit Lego Bricks Complex

A simple example to start with is the humble pile family. All too often, the default out of the box single pile, Pile-Steel Pipe.rfa is used for most projects. Whilst this is perfectly functional for most applications it may not deliver the best output and placement options. For example, the two images below show some typical ways of depicting piling in a plan view. The first image is perhaps appropriate when showing a piling layout, ideal for scales 1:100 where the pile may want to be displayed as a symbolic symbol. The second is useful for general arrangement plans and shows the pile in hidden detail under the pile cap. You can also see the pilling on the third image displaying the hidden detail for the embedment and the break symbol to curtail the full piling length.

Revit Foundation Details

The default pile family, when opened in the family editor, shows us the default Reference Planes which only run through the centre of the pile. This means that you cannot dimension the pile in elevation in a project. The default method of placement is to place the pile on a plane which is quite slow when multiple levels are required. The other issue is that you cannot snap a spot coordinate to the centre of the pile! This is simply due to the default family’s behaviour.

Revit Pile Steel Pipe

Once the piles are placed you will need to detail these manually in a section or elevation with the break symbol. If the pile moves, you will need to also move the details! Whilst you may eventually get the model and detail created it is far more efficient to create better content.

So, how can we make this more efficient?

One method is to create a face-based pile with all the relevant detailing built in. This will mean that if the pile cap, ground beam or foundation slab changed level the piles will automatically move. The 2D details such as the symbolic view and pile break symbol are automatically added as the piles are modelled. You will also be able to snap a spot coordinate onto the centre of the pile with confidence.

You can start by creating a new family using the Metric Generic Model face-based Revit family template. There are quite a few steps when creating the family, so I have provided a video with step by step instructions for the creation of the pile family. Feel free to use this example as a starting point, obviously you can add your own functionality and graphics as required.

You can make improvements to many of the default families which will save time, increase your detailing efficiency and improve drawing consistency.


Revit 2020.2 Coordinate Systems

Happy 2020 to everyone. You may notice that I have created a new look and feel for the site, the original site going back to April 2009! Hope you like the new logo and appearance?

Anyone who authors Revit models or works with 3rd party consultants that use Revit has surely experienced poorly coordinated models and struggled to understand why models do not federate and overlay as expected.

Many of these issues are simply down to a lack of understanding of the Revit coordinate system or properly communicated BEP’s, but these are fundamental to the correct setting out and coordination of projects. Revit 2020.2 offers some help by being able to visualise the Project base Point, Survey Point and the Internal Point within linked models. Also, you can no longer unclip the Project Base Point, meaning that the Internal and Project Base Point are normally consistent, however, see the note at the end of the post!

The image below is displaying the two Project Base Points, the blue being from the active project and the grey being from the linked model

Revit 2020.2 - Coordinate Systems

Revit 2020.2 Linked Project Base Point

Here you can also see that the Internal Origin point is also displayed in grey on a linked project. This is useful when checking that the Project Base Point and Internal Origin are overlayed.

Revit 2020.2 Internal Origin Point

When a linked model is selected the Project Base Point shows the linked model icon and the relevant properties such as the North/South, East/West, Elevation as well as the angle to true north. Very useful when trying to understand why Revit models will not federate and overlay correctly.

Revit 2020.2 - Linked Project Base Point

As many of you will already know, Revit has an internal origin which can be different from the Project Base Point. The Internal Origin point can now be displayed with a new sub category within the Site category.

Revit - Internal Origin Point

When setting the Project Base Point you should now use Specify Coordinates at Point or acquire coordinates rather than directly selecting the Project Base Point and moving.  You will notice that selecting the PBP and using the Properties Palette or directly typing the coordinates will move the PBP independently of the internal origin.

Specify Coordinates at Point