How to Keep Your Job Using Revit – Less is More


January 22, 2019 | Architecture and Engineering, All

If you’re an architect, you’re probably familiar with the phrase introduced by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe over 70 years ago, “Less is more.” Ludwig wasn’t talking about Revit, but his advice is nonetheless relevant to today’s Revit users.

Enhance your productivity using Revit by managing file sizes and views. Many experienced Revit users have learned these best practices the hard way. Here’s an opportunity to shine as a Revit user without having to first pay the price by making the mistakes.

Although this is mostly a list of “don’ts,” you have to decide whether certain features are necessary. If they’re required on the project, then of course use them. The key is to not overdo it.

1.) Don’t over model. You don’t need more detail than is necessary to get the job done. If you have something that won’t be visible at plan scale (ie. 1/8”=1’), decide if the benefit of modeling it is worth the larger file size.

2.) Don’t over-constrain model geometry. It’s tempting to use all the little locks, but it can increase the file size and slow you down.

3.) Don’t over use Groups. Groups are great, but don’t use them when you don’t need them. A common mistake is that arrays want to group objects. This takes space and bloats files. So purge out the group descriptions.

4.) Don’t over use Design Options. They are meant to deal with certain parts of your project, so you should commit to one design or the other. Otherwise, you can have the equivalent of two separate projects active.

5.) Avoid overpopulating templates with pre-loaded families. For model components like doors, windows, furniture, and fittings, only load what’s necessary. Don’t pre-load the rest of that stuff early on. Keep them in a library folder where they’re easy to find and insert when it’s time for adding annotation and tags.  

6.) Limit the use of in-place families. If there’s any component that’s going to be used more than once, make it a component family that you load into your project. Only do in-place families for situations that are unique one-off pieces of geometry.

7.) Avoid parametric arrays and formulas. Don’t use them when you don’t need them just because it’s cool. Do you really need to make a family parametric, or is it better to have two separate families? You decide.

8.) Avoid using voids (common in manufacturing). They take up a lot of room in a drawing file. Use them if you have to, but don’t over use them.

9.) Avoid families that cut hosts if possible. If the purpose for the family doesn’t require that it cut a host, then don’t do it. For instance, for visual purposes alone, a light fixture doesn’t need to cut into the ceiling.

10.) Consider whether 3D modeling geometry is necessary. You can use Symbolic Lines and Masking Regions instead. If you can avoid the 3D geometry for a common fixture that needs no explanation (like a toilet), keep the file size down.

11.) Break up projects.  If you know your file is going to be large, consider separating out portions of it. Keep buildings separate. Separate out the building core from the shell and interiors. If you’ve got a building with an expansion joint, that might be a good place to break it apart. Towers and parking structures can also be separate “projects” within the larger scope.

View management:

If you’re not using a project view template, you should be.

If you want to hide something on the drawing, use the temporary Hide Category to isolate elements. Don’t use “Hide a View – Elements,” which is a permanent Hide command. Unless you remember later to use the Reveal Hidden Elements tool, it can be difficult to remember which elements are hidden. This is especially important if you have multiple users working on a project drawing. If something is hidden, another user might think it is missing and add it. So then it will be there twice. Be careful using hide.

The View ribbon allows you to select which plan views you want to see. The view is created, and the template is set for each. Bring in the architectural model, set up view templates, choose which trade plan you want for which levels, and Revit will create the views for you. All you have to do is rename them.

And here’s a little teaser for a way to go a little further and streamline. Using Dynamo you can write all the architectural level information to an Excel spreadsheet. Then it will tell you the names of the plan views you will need to create. Dynamo can read from the Excel spreadsheet and create those plan views you need. The foundation for this entire streamlined process are the View Templates plus View Types.

With these easy-to-implement tips, you can really take advantage of the “less is more” method to simplify and clarify your Revit model. For previous posts on How to Keep Your Job Using Revit, see “How Watching Cat Videos Can Actually Help You Keep Your Job Using Revit,” and “A Good Pasta Meal Can Help You Keep Your Job Using Revit.”

To enhance your Revit-ability, contact the experts at Applied Software for Revit training or optimization services. Your reward will be higher productivity and reliability to the people who control your position and your paycheck. 

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