Get Rid of Revit Project Set-Up Headaches Once and For All

How many times do you get too far down the line with a Revit Project that wasn’t set up well? 

Maybe someone started a Revit project to churn out a quick conceptual model.  They used the default template, named the file ‘Really Awesome Building.rvt’ and modeled everything 100′ away from the Project Base Point.  No big deal in a conceptual model, but those are a lot of headaches to fix when you start the CD’s phase with this same model. Is there a better way?

Revit Model Start to Finish

Our goal here at RM Plus is to set ourselves up for success – not re-work!  We use a combination of Revit and Sketch Up from Day 1 on almost all our projects. We use Revit to generate floor plans and area takeoffs for conceptual presentations… and then use the same model to start our construction documents months later.  If we don’t get things set up well in the beginning, we’re only wasting our own time fixing a model or starting over from scratch later on.   

 The 7 Keys to Setting Up Your Revit Projects for Success:

  1. Project Units
  2. Number of Models Needed
  3. Template
  4. File Naming
  5. Creating a Central
  6. Worksets
  7. Project Base Point
1. Project Units – This may be straightforward at your firm- Imperial or Metric? We do work in the United States and in Central and South America, which means we switch between Imperial and Metric units on each project. What units do you pick when you have a project for a South American client, but the project will be located within the US?  The client will want to see dimensions in meters, but the building department is going to want dimensions in feet and inches. It’s not always an easy decision.
2. Number of Models Needed – Most of our projects have a minimum of two models – a building model and a site model.  We split these up to limit file size since the topography models can get heavy.  If there are multiple buildings in the project, each will get their own building model.  Setting up a model for each building at the start of the project is critical to not waste time later –  if you model all of your buildings together in one big file, then one of your co-workers has to split everything apart later on – not a fun task.
3. Template – Take the time to set up a template for your company that has all your annotation standards and common system families (walls, floors,  roofs) pre-set up. This makes it easy for everyone to get started on the right foot. Documents will look consistent no matter who is working on them. We even set up presentation view templates so that our conceptual floor plans and elevations look consistent. Then, make sure everyone knows where this template is saved – it seems obvious, but a lot of people stumble at that point in the set-up, and just use the default templates.
4. File Naming – ‘Really Awesome Project.rvt’ is great file name if you’re the only person who is ever going to open the file.  If this project moves on from conceptual design to construction documents, you’re going to need a better file name… unless its cool for someone to accidentally open the project in a more recent version of Revit and upgrade it.  
Here is our naming convention: 101_RAP_AB1_AR_2015.rvt
101 = Project Number
RAP = Abbreviation for Really Awesome Project
AB1 = Abbreviation for Awesome Building 1 (continue the sequence for each building in your project – AB1, AB2, AB3)
AR = label for the architectural model – this is redundant when the file is in your office, but extremely helpful when you send this file to your consultants, even better when they send one back to you with the AR switched for ST or MEP
2015 = version of Revit to open this file with
5. Creating a Central – This may seem like overkill to do when you are working on conceptual model… until the day before the deadline and someone needs to jump in and help get the presentation done.  If it’s not a central, that second person can’t open the model and help you.  And really, it only takes a minute to set up.
6. Worksets – You may see this as overkill too, but if it only takes a minute to set up a workset called Architecture and set it to the active workset before you begin modeling, why not just do it?  It saves a teammate from having to go in and change all the worksets down the line.
7. Project Base Point – THE MOST CRITICAL POINT!  In your template, set up a basic floor plan view for conceptual work to be done in – and set the Project Base Point and Project Survey Point to be visible.  There is just one rule here – put the corner of your building on the Project Base Point.  Not near it, not a few feet away, not a football field away. Put the corner of your building ON THE BASE POINT.  Setting up shared coordinates can be complicated, but it is so much easier when the base point is on the corner of the building. This is one item that you do NOT want to move later on. And, you really don’t want to move it after you’ve sent your models to consultants, trust me.
Revit is a powerful tool, but you can cause a lot of re-work for your team if these items aren’t considered when projects are created.  You may have one person in your firm who is in charge of creating all Revit project files, and I bet that person has their own similar checklist.  But wouldn’t it be great if everyone who needs to start model could create a project and set your team up for success no matter their experience level?  If they have a good understanding of these 7 items, they can do it.  
Eliminate the headaches and save yourselves time down the road by making good decisions at the beginning. 
Do you have any other points to add to the list?  What is critical in your process to set your team up for success?