Back in 2008, I came across a list of best practice modelling tips for Revit in the, ‘Mastering Revit Architecture 2008’ book by Tatjana Dzambazova, Greg Demchak and Eddy Krygiel. While now years out of date, interestingly all of the tips are just as relevant as when first published. It just goes to show that while Autodesk add new features for every release, the fundamentals remain consistent from version to version.
Tip #1: Set up levels first
While not absolutely necessary, having the majority of levels you will need to set up prior to modelling will save you a good amount of time down the road. Only use levels to define storeys and other major vertical datums in the project. Note the “Create Plan View” checkbox when using the level tool – do you need a plan view for every level? Note too that you can delete plan and RCP views for a level (from the Project Browser) and also recreate them (View > New > Floor Plan).
Tip #2: Use grids!
Using grids helps keep everything “lined up” in plan and section. At the very least use them for exterior wall construction, they can make your life much easier. If you don’t want or need them for your construction docs, you can always turn them off. If you are using worksets, be sure to place grids on their own workset. The default “shared levels and grids” works well, but don’t be afraid to add additional worksets for grids.
Tip #3: Layout walls with location line in mind. Exterior walls should be “full height”
While laying out walls, be mindful of the location line. Although this can be changed later, you will save yourself from future problems by doing it right the first time. The location line determines which direction a wall will grow in if edited or changed. The location line can be thought of as an anchor, it will remain fixed as the wall layers change around it. Its importance will become obvious as proceed. Exterior walls should be set to extend “all the way up” and “all the way down”.
Tip #4: Align walls to grids, not grids to walls
Using grids to govern wall locations has many advantages. For example, because grids show up in all plan views there is less of a need to underlay another floor plan to define vertical relationships.
Tip #5: Revit is 3D modelling and 2D drafting
Detailing in Revit works well. Most users at some point find they’d rather detail in Revit, though you can do it in AutoCAD and import into Revit. You model to a point, then head to the details for the rest. Revit’s combination of 3D and 2D is a practical solution to the problem.
Tip #6: Pin down the grids! And possibly a few other things
The pin tool allows you to keep objects from moving while being able to edit some of their properties. This is great for grids; you can lock the grids down so they can’t be moved, while still being able to change the name of the grid. You can use the pin tool on any object you want tied down to a certain location.
Tip #7: Worksets are an ally
User-created worksets are a good thing even on small projects where only one person will be working. Worksets can give you an added level of control over the visibility of objects in views, since you can turn them on and off in each view like layers. They also can help improve Revit’s performance: you can use them to only open portions of the database.
Tip #8: Think before you delete
It is imperative that every team member understands that Revit is parametric and that any changes made affect the entire model. There are no ‘Drawings’ as in AutoCAD, but rather ‘Views’ of the same model. If you delete a wall in plan, it will be deleted in elevation!
Tip #9: Model correctly from the beginning
It’s critical to begin modelling correctly from the beginning, so that as the design refines you don’t have to fix things later. If you can begin to think about how your project will be assembled, it will save you a lot of time at the end. Remember, it takes the same amount of time to draw well as it does poorly.
Tip #10: Close unused views
Keeping the number of open views to a minimum helps the model’s performance. Choose Window > Close Hidden Windows often.
Tip #11: Don’t over constrain
If you don’t need to long a relationship, don’t. Over-constraining the model can cause problems later in the project process when you want to move or modify an element.
Tip #12: Don’t explode imported CAD files
If you explode a CAD file, the single object immediately becomes many.
Tip #13: Delete or unload unused DWGs
Often, a DWG is imported as a reference but then is no longer needed. Once it is no longer needed, it should be deleted.
Tip #14: Use detail components (blocks) wherever possible, rather than drafting lines
As opposed to drafting lines, detail components are more efficient. They are easier to copy and constrain. Remember to lock (or check the box ‘moves with nearby objects’ detail components when placing them to ensure they move if the model does.
Tip #15: Purge unused elements
Revit has a built-in tool that allows you to purge unused families and content. This is a good way to reduce file size and improve performance. To purge, choose File > Purge unused.
Tip #16: Turn off shadows
Shadows should only be used on presentation views as computing shadows are performance intensive.