Category: Support Theory

Thoughts on trying to be a better support person

This… Is My BIM Stick!

Every so often it’s important to pull out the big guns.  I have always said that any kind of graphics or documenting standards are written in mud.  Almost stone, but changeable when necessary.

There are some things that we do, and I bet there are some things that you do, that should NOT be done differently.  Default materials should not be changed, default annotation should not be messed with, most anything in the Object Styles in a project shouldn’t be touched.  This is just bad for other users on a project and can get annoying and waste time.  There are some things that just shouldn’t be messed with for other reasons; dimensions come to mind here.

There are ways to override or fudge your dimensions in Revit, and I’ll outline the two most common here.  NOT so you do it, simply so you know what to look for.  There should be NO REASON to override dimensions, and I will arm wrestle anyone who disagrees.  I may lose the arm wrestle match, but I am right.  If you place a dimension string and it says 5′ 2 1/32″, and it’s supposed to be 5′ 2″, DON’T change the dimension… FIX THE MODEL.  Always always always fix the model.  Always.  Got it?  Great.

The first way to fudge your dimension is to override the accuracy on it.  By default, it’s going to take your project settings, but you can get into a dimension type and change that accuracy.  I’ve seen several times when someone has a 1/32″ (that’s our default project accuracy) show up in a dimension string, they don’t bother fixing it, they override they change the ROUNDING under UNITS FORMAT to something lower.

CHEATERS!!!  What happens?  The rounding gets confusing, sometimes rounding up when it should go down.  And then an overall dimension string won’t add up.  And you will look like you don’t know how to simple arithmetic.  And I don’t need to tell you what happens when a contractor finds dimension strings to not add up…

The second, far more devious, way of fudging a dimension string is to override the text.  For the last few versions of Revit, you could double-click on the dimension and add some text as a prefix or suffix, or even replace the dimension value with a piece of text.  Revit is mostly smart and will not allow you to replace the value with another number.  See?  Revit doesn’t want you to cheat!  But there is a way…

Let’s say your dimension value is 8′-6 1/16″.  You want it to be 8′-6″.  Double-click on the text and you will see the value in there.

Here’s where the CHEATERS come in.  If you toggle “Replace With Text”, and type in 8′-6″. (see that little period after the text?), Revit will allow it.  You will have a tiny dot on your dimension string, but it’s changed.  Congratulations, you have figured out a way to keep your sloppy modelling skills intact and not bother to make anything accurate.  Good job!

Not much infuriates me (that’s not true at all – I’m a pretty bitter person… and Crocs… MAN how I hate those shoes…) but there is no excuse for this sloppiness.  This is absurd.  Model it right, and if it’s not modeled right, fix it.

So, how do you police this kind of thing?  First of all, whenever you see it, point it out to everyone on the project team.  Don’t outright mock them for cheating, but come close.  And bring up that you know another firm that is still dealing with litigation from a job where they cheated on the dimensions.  Even if you don’t.

What I like to do (with apologies to Bruce Campbell) is pull out my BIM Stick.  I keep it for special occasions.

Seriously, this is my BIM Stick

We have a weekly Revit meeting where we discuss issues and problems.  I have only pulled out my BIM Stick once, and it was to discuss this issue.  Will it change the cheaters?  I hope so.  I also hope it stresses to the interns and younger designers how important this is.  I know, I’m so sweet passing on my knowledge to future generations of bitter BIM Monkeys.

So, get yourself a BIM Stick and wave it around only for the big topics.  Hopefully it will change the minds of some folks, but it will definitely make you feel better.