How 3D Software Has Changed Architectural Design

3D software for architectural design

In the past, architectural design plans and drawings were seen as something so artistic that, on occasion, watercolours were used as part of the finishing touches of the 2D design. Drawings were produced with the help of compasses, T-squares, and irregular curves. Architectural design services and processes gradually evolved into a more systemised engineering drafting technique, which saw collaborations resulting in the first CAD/CAM systems designed for the military, automotive, and aerospace industries in the 1960s. The age of 2D CAD dawned in the 1980s. Close on its heels, software rendered realistic 3D models, and Autodesk’s AutoCAD debuted in 1982, offering 3D architectural modelling, digital representation and system development, opening up a whole new world of accuracy, cost effectiveness and realistic visualisation. Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD, Autodesk’s 3D Studio and Revit Technology Corporation’s Revit joined the trend soon after, before becoming an Autodesk product itself.

Creating 2D drawings is fast and easy, but the result is still a 2D drawing, which may not be sufficient in some cases. Any change in one drawing had to be modified in other drawings to maintain accuracy and consistency. Increasingly, 3D files, with all the necessary data to develop 3D products, were preferred to 2D drawings. Many companies realise a 3D design is useful in the design stage and can save time and money. Software for 3D models in architecture include AutoCAD, Revit Architecture and Revit in conjunction with BIM.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process of construction that has a way of altering structures: their appearance, their way of functioning and the way they are built. BIM is a combination of digital, spatial and measurable collaboration. Elements in BIM are loaded with data detailing geometry, material, fire rating, cost, manufacturer, count and any other metadata imaginable. BIM ensures that all project disciplines share a single database: architecture, engineering and construction. Right at the design stage, energy analysis can be carried out and even construction expenses can be calculated.

Plans, sections, details, elevations and schedules are created as interactive 3D models with multiple views using BIM. One of the advantages of BIM models is that any change in one view will translate into all other views. Any element moved or removed from the plan will follow the action in elevation and section views, for example.

In architectural 3D modelling, Revit is widely recognized as one of the most technologically compatible BIM applications. BIM helps control calculations and element interactions in a faster, more accurate and easier way and provides a high volume of information about the building.

Clients benefit from 3D design, as it provides a variety of design options to the design team and client. They are able to view 3D models and change the colors of walls, the style of doors and other elements and also view the results.

Impact of 3D Software on Architectural Design

In architecture design, 3D software widens possibilities in a way 2D solutions are not able to do, such as:

1. Minimise costly mistakes

Software designed for 3D modelling enables the testing of building stress factors and tolerances before construction. This saves time, money and possibly disastrous consequences. Analysis tools can simulate the flow of fluids to measure vibrations in key structural components. Simulations help identify design flaws. Also, 3D printers can ‘print’ 3D CAD files as prototypes, saving the cost of creating prototypes conventionally. Each specific component of a structure can be isolated, tested, analysed or changed in 3D, and this can be done with the assurance that no other components are compromised.

2. Work faster and more efficiently

It takes time to make sure that the plans, sections and elevations concur in 2D CAD, whereas in 3D, a completed model can provide this information faster.

3. Increase accuracy and control

Design views of 3D models can be panned, zoomed and rotated. Detailed information for each project section helps improve calculations and communication, leading to more comprehensive decision-making processes.

4. Improve customer satisfaction and approvals

Clients and prospective clients can experience a virtual tour of buildings with 3D software. Clients can view a polished and interactive visual of the final construction. Firms with a 3D printer can proffer a physical representation of designs to clients rather than wait for factory moulding. Clients can enjoy customised building designs, as design elements can be altered easily in 3D rather than how costly it would have been with just 2D drawings.

5. Offer realistic design views

Rather than understanding horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines of 2D sketches, 3D software enables a combined image of architectural services. Viability of plans and design alterations can be viewed in one image.

6. Enable easy remodelling and corrections

As design changes are easy to view and material information is provided in detail, costs can be calculated to greater accuracy.

7. Positively affect project execution

3D technologies that significantly impact project execution:

  • Reduction of field interferences
  • Less rework
  • Increased productivity
  • Fewer requests for information
  • Fewer change orders
  • Better monitoring of cost growth
  • Decreased time from start of construction to facility turnover

8. View more of the interiors

Furniture, wall paints and designs, designer ceilings, etc. can be placed within interior views.

Other Widely Used 3D Software Tools:


Autocad is popular among students and professionals and produces representational drawings, which are often stepping stones to 3D modelling. The user interface can be adjusted to preferences and some experimentation with layers and line weights will produce a design with standard drawings and measurable construction details. AutoCAD Architecture is specifically created for architects. It allows architects to draft more efficiently and create a variety of designs and documents. AutoCAD has layers, such as stairs layer, windows layer, doors layer.


An architectural CAD software, this open BIM (Building Information Modelling) software is a complete tool for architects, enabling 3D modelling and visualisation, offering high quality and photorealistic rendering. ArchiCAD modelling allows the storage of large amounts of information in 3D models. It is useful for building design, interiors and urban area design.


When architects create the conceptual phase in 3D, SketchUp enables the quick creation of the design. It is popular for being user friendly, cost effective and having a varied component library. Each object, surface and material has a unique texture. Its rendering capabilities though are limited.


Revit helps create 3D models, renders and 2D construction documents. Building components such as actual walls, roofs, beams and columns and real-world elements such as windows and doors can be used instead of lines and circles. Compatible with AutoCAD, all alterations made are updated in all views, plans and elevations. Coordination and drawing time is reduced significantly. Revit 3D modelling produces tables that show the amount of materials required and exactly where they are needed. The material take-offs make for better planning and predictability.

Revit Architecture allows the automatic production of schedules of building components, thus improving cost and quantity calculations. As Revit is a 3D software for BIM (Building Information Modeling), it has a collaborative facet, which is a huge advantage. Any stakeholder can access centrally shared models on cloud-based locations, such as Collaboration for Revit and BIM 360, and can make changes and communicate these changes to others in the same project. This helps avoid rework and helps save time.

3D Studio Max

3D Studio Max tools have modelling capabilities and a flexible plugin architecture and can be used on the Microsoft Windows platform. It is used by architects for previsualisation.

AutoCAD Architecture

AutoCAD Architecture by Autodesk allows both 3D and 2D design. Apart from being a great tool for rendering, it can create realistic models with a combination of solid, surface and mesh modelling tools. It also enables easy communication with others on the same project.

Chief Architect

A CAD software for architects, it is useful for 3D rendering and is easy to use. With an intuitive interface, it offers smart tools. It can automatically generate building systems. Additionally, 360° panorama renderings can be exported.


Rhino 3D is a major player in 3D modelling. Used for industrial design and architecture, Rhino’s geometry creates accurate models. Grasshopper, a graphical algorithm editor designed for 3D geometry in conjunction with Rhino 3D, offers further architectural options.

One of the lasting effects that 3D software advances have had on architectural design is in altering the nature of business processes. As the architectural design services industry evolves and increasing options for 3D modelling software become available, there is greater demand for qualified technical personnel to provide efficient and accurate designs. This sought-after, technically adept human resource is now available overseas in large numbers and at an affordable cost. In an increasingly global business environment, more firms find the use of overseas 3D modelling services beneficial and this trend seems set to continue for some time.


Growing Your Home Design Team While Minimising Risks

Growing your home design team while minimising risks

Increasing Your Home Design Team with Minimal Risk

Growing new home markets in Western cities present a need for an increase in large residential design and drafting teams with the required experience and expertise. Effort, planning and vision can increase the size of the team and profits earned, while minimizing the risk factor for these large-scale residential projects. In the current global milieu, larger, efficient, cohesive home design teams can exist between multiple locations. Ideally, part of these teams can be based at an offshore location to produce the same results.

Some of the vital tasks a home design team performs are the creation of 2D drawings, 3D modeling, 3D rendering, building information modelling, construction documentation, CAD drawings, using Autodesk (AutoCAD, 3D Studio Max or Revit) or Graphisoft ArchiCAD. The end product involves a comprehensive set of residential design drawings in Revit or ArchiCAD, which are essential commodities for the completion of efficient residential design.

An ideal home design team must utilise updated design/drafting tools. Advantages of a larger offshore team include the following:

Productivity increases – As tools such as Revit facilitate the production of numerous integrated drawings within a small window of time, clients can direct their focus to other business activities.

3D modelling means fewer mistakes – The detail available in 3D modelling makes for a more accurate process and thus reduces errors.

More collaborative process – As design concepts, drawings and models are digitally stored in locations which enable common access, members of the design process enjoy collaborative input from start to finish.

Time saved – 3D modelling allows an in-depth view, so that revisions and changes can be carried out quickly and accurately.

An experienced outsourced design team provides all of this, and as an added perk, it becomes unnecessary to invest in expensive CAD software, expensive infrastructure or expensive skilled personnel. It really can be a holistic remedy.

Are there risks in outsourcing this part of the residential construction drawing process?
In the past, there were times when some of the concerns listed below would have raised eyebrows. That is no longer the case. Here’s why:

Loss of control over the process
The ability to retain control during outsourcing can sometimes be a concern. Limitations in communication and delays in response may affect the product. Improved communication with the outsourcing team and ensuring the in-house team understands what outsourcing entails takes care of ‘control issues’.

Collaborative working
Due to the existence of tools such as Collaboration For Revit (C4R) and BIM360, the production of an offshore team can be viewed and commented upon in real time if needed. At worst, the central design team can view the work completed by the offshore partner, and at best, they can directly work on the same files that the offshore partner is working with. This advantage requires a user that is experienced in the use of collaborative working, of course, and therefore selection of a vendor with the requisite collaboration experience is necessary.

Hidden costs
Even though the process has been outsourced, some costs remain, such as the costs in the transition process. Knowing the potential hidden costs of a new venture will help paint a clear picture as to exact cost reductions.

Inconvenient work hours
As close interaction and collaboration between the in-house team and the outsourced design team is required, the time difference may present problems. Outsourced teams can accommodate different working hours or shift them to guarantee an overlap.

Communication hurdles
Many CIOs, or chief information officers, think their communication will be affected by the design team’s English-speaking ability. To avoid that, project leaders can carefully select the country and their outsourced partner. A country that has a proven track record of teaching English practically guarantees that language no longer becomes an impediment.

Will the customer be put off by outsourcing?
Outsourcing has been tossed around in a not-so-complimentary manner, probably due to bad experiences which have been the result of misplaced or incomplete due diligence processes for partner selection in the first place. The resultant bad experience may have had a knock-on effect elsewhere, in other Western countries. When a supplier is selected and managed properly in real terms, outsourcing presents companies the opportunity to be more competitive in international markets. Customers value that.

Quality control
Sometimes, a working product develops issues after it is delivered, and if the quality produced from outsourcing is poor, the company’s reputation could be in tatters. For instance, if the ventilation system design harbors any error, human health is put at risk. Or there could be examples of noncompliance with company standards. A design team that follows the latest quality standards, as well as the presence of a certified quality assurance specialist ensures industry-standard quality.

Data security can be an issue, especially if dealing with highly sensitive information. The confidentiality of commercial secrets could be leaked. Selecting a reliable, certified team is important. Ensure that the team has worked with sensitive information before, with established security methods.

Reliable Partners
If the project becomes complicated, a reliable partner is a boon. Often, CIOs spend considerably on a transition process and introduce a new team to the project, just to discover that the technology specialist has been reassigned. Understand the design team’s outsourcing model and team structure. They should be flexible and act as a strong business partner.

When a partner, such as a dedicated offshore CAD resource team in India, for example, confidently fulfils all architectural design processes, concerns and requirements, how does the company benefit? Some of the advantages of bigger numbers involved in the entire design process are as follows:

Large, Experienced Production Department
For large projects, the required resources can be availed to fast-track work, with the additional perk of a large dedicated team. By outsourcing work, more people can work on one task with the result of faster production. Plus, the outsourced team will be technically sound in terms of using CAD or BIM software.

Dedicated Project Managers and Teams
An assigned project manager will oversee the outsourced production. The manager sends regular updates by email and phones whenever clarifications are needed or requests occur.

Saving Cost of Training
In many Western nations, there is a high demand for technical experts. However due to economic prosperity, demographic ageing and lesser students opting for technical education, a lack of technical human resource is expected in the coming years. CAD and BIM software ensures top quality, but it is complex. Frequent training of employees is necessary. This cost is borne by the outsourcing company, and there is a wealth of trained personnel at its disposal.

Accurate Work
The work generated is guaranteed to be accurate and of top quality, as more people are working on it and processes are in place for quality control.

Valuable Experience
A company with several years of experience in varied disciplines ensures the delivery of a better product.

Secure Data
Advanced data protection systems and processes ensure that confidential information is always safe and secure.

Extra Time for High-level Design and Engineering
When CAD design services are outsourced, associates will have more time to handle more challenging design and engineering tasks. They can focus on their main strengths and be involved in core functions.

Easier to Honor Tight Work Schedules
Skilled and experienced CAD professionals are available whenever needed – at a much lower cost, so there is a faster turn-around time. Whether there is a requirement to quickly ramp up CAD production for a specific project or there is a need to regularly handle workload overflows, outsourcing CAD design services is ideal to deliver quality work during tight deadlines.

Ultimately, employing an experienced vendor with a proven track record and by signing confidentiality agreements, outsourcing architectural design services presents a logical solution to alleviate workload and enjoy the benefits of a larger team. Added advantages are financial savings, faster production and reduction of labour. It is generally accepted that construction is becoming less of a local industry and that architectural outsourcing will become a common reality in the near future. The march of progress in the home design arena is going global, and a larger, multi-talented home design team is vital to success.

Utilise BIM 360 and C4R for AEC Projects – Collaborate, Communicate and Coordinate

Picture3In various stages of the construction project lifecycle, multiple project stakeholders and teams are involved, which involves teams of specific disciplines working on certain elements of the project from different locations on a MEP (M&E) BIM or architectural BIM modeling project. In a multiplatform, multi-device, co-working and co-sharing environment, two-way communication, synchronised coordination, seamless collaboration and clash-free solutions are some of the aspects which determine the successful completion of a project.In various stages of the construction project lifecycle, multiple project stakeholders and teams are involved, which involves teams of specific disciplines working on certain elements of the project from different locations on a MEP (M&E) BIM or architectural BIM modeling project. In a multiplatform, multi-device, co-working and co-sharing environment, two-way communication, synchronised coordination, seamless collaboration and clash-free solutions are some of the aspects which determine the successful completion of a project.

To facilitate collaboration and coordination, reduce costs, improve project management and deliver projects efficiently within the timeframe and budgetary requirement, there are cloud-based, collaboration tools such as BIM 360 and C4R for AEC projects which help in providing improvements to AEC projects.

Some of the ways in which collaboration and work sharing tools help you address project management challenges include:

1. They enable collaboration – To keep all project stakeholders updated with the latest information, collaboration and work-sharing tools provide access to BIM project data which is centralised and help in connecting multiple team members through various devices, platforms and locations. As a BIM manager, project head or architect, you can use C4R to upload your Revit model to the cloud, BIM 360 Team to link your projects and provide access to multiple team members to enable them to make changes, add markups and communicate using features such as the Communicator on C4R.

2. They facilitate two-way communication – When multiple team members are working on various elements in the same, centralised model, communication is important. The Communicator, an integrated, instant messenger type feature in C4R enables your team members to communicate easily in real-time on active projects.

3. They enhance the interference analysis and coordination process – In a construction project, you may have teams from various disciplines working on a model. To ensure the process of clash detection, coordination and resolution are efficient, using a combination of collaborative and clash detection tools is the best solution. You could use C4R along with BIM 360 Glue and BIM 360 Field to detect clashes, synchronise the coordination of changes and create coordinated, clash-free and construction ready architectural models.

4. They reduce costs – By addressing coordination issues in the initial stages of the construction project lifecycle, you can reduce time spent and costs that you could have incurred had you not resolved coordination issues. To decrease costs, deliver projects faster and reduce errors, using collaboration tools help in coordination and enhance project transparency.

5. They provide a holistic view – Typically individual team get an isolated view of specific elements of the project based on their role in the process. For you to enable better coordination, collaboration and communication, using cloud-based, collaboration tools help in providing a holistic view of the project, which is important in creating coordinated, construction ready models.

6. They facilitate remote project management – Using browser-based and cloud-based tools make work sharing and collaboration is easier. You can procure the best resources and cross-border teams by using cloud-based tools, therefore, reducing cost on IT infrastructure, enhancing project delivery time and maintaining budgetary requirements.

By facilitating two-way communication, cross-border coordination and seamless collaboration between multiple project stakeholders, work sharing and collaboration tools such as C4R and BIM 360 provide you with a solution to address project management challenges. To respond to the increasing demand for faster project delivery within budgets, collaboration tools provide you with the best possible solution by increasing efficiency, reducing costs, facilitating effective project management and enabling faster project delivery. While adoption of the latest technology in the AEC industry is gradual, being a first mover could provide you with an advantage. The sooner you utilise tools such as C4R and BIM 360, the easier it will be for you to efficiently deliver projects faster, reduce costs and ensure your teams can seamlessly collaborate, coordinate and communicate.

Why The Time-tested Practice of Architectural Drafting is Used in Architectural Design?

Why the time-tested practice of Architectural Drafting is used in Construction and Architectural DesignArchitectural drafting, a time-tested practice of drafting 2D architectural construction drawings has evolved from manual 2D drawing to using computer-aided design and drafting (CAD) software programs. 2D drawing sets have been used and will continue to be used by engineers, designers and architects as standard deliverables to contractors on construction sites.Architectural drafting, a time-tested practice of drafting 2D architectural construction drawings has evolved from manual 2D drawing to using computer-aided design and drafting (CAD) software programs. 2D drawing sets have been used and will continue to be used by engineers, designers and architects as standard deliverables to contractors on construction sites.

In most building projects today you may have noticed an increase in the use of architectural BIM modeling and 3D models. Architectural 3D modelling is useful because 3D architectural construction drawings and models allow for design changes in real-time, easier management and exchange of project data and it provides a 3D view of the conceptual plan. However, architectural drafting is preferred by several construction companies because it includes technical details of structural, architectural and electrical components required for installation and during construction of a building. A construction drawing set (CD set) of architectural CAD drawings typically includes sections, elevations, floor plans, detailed drawings for installation of MEP components and other documents required for construction.

Architectural CAD drawings help in construction and architectural design by specifically communicating the design intent and by providing high-performance detailing of construction elements. To understand why the time-tested practice of architectural drafting is commonly used in architectural design and construction projects, here are some of the reasons:

• While architectural design companies have technical resources and drafting teams qualified to deliver 2D technical drawings using basic software programs such as AutoCAD, not all companies have the availability of technical resources qualified to deliver 3D models using software programs such as Revit. Moreover, most of the resources employed in construction teams are qualified to interpret 2D architectural construction drawings required for construction while not all resources working in various disciplines are experienced to use 3D models.

• In the construction industry, the adoption of new practices and the latest software is a slow and gradual process. The software programs used in architectural design and building projects varies from country to country, with some using AutoCAD and ArchiCAD instead of Revit, invariably resulting in the incompatibility of project data. 2D architectural CAD drawings are widely adopted across the industry and are preferred over Revit 3D models for construction.

• While 3D models provide additional information, not all building projects require this data to complete construction. 2D architectural CAD drawings in a construction drawing set include symbols, technical codes, quantities, the type of material and other additional information included in the elevations, sections, floor plans and detailed drawings that are required for successfully completing a construction project.

• One of the underlying reasons why architectural drafting solutions are commonly used is the fact that 2D technical drawings are economically viable and provide sufficient project data to complete construction. Moreover, added to the cost of architectural 3D modelling solutions, there is an additional investment in technical resources qualifies to interpret architectural 3D models for construction on-site.

The practice of using 2D architectural construction drawings on-site will continue to be a preferred option because construction companies and teams need more than a 3D perspective of the conceptual plan, they need precise details and accurate drawings for construction and detailed technical drawings more than an aesthetical perspective. Moreover, in the construction industry, most of the resources can interpret 2D drawings clearly and not all manpower of various disciplines in a construction team have the capability to comprehend 3D models. Added to that, 2D drawings are compatible because basic software programs such as AutoCAD and ArchiCAD is required unlike when using 3D models where there are certain cases of software incompatibility. While architectural design and construction companies gradually adopt architectural 3D modelling and BIM modelling solutions, architectural drafting and drawing solutions will continue to be a commonly used practice because it meets the requirement of efficient and effective construction on time and within budget.

Understanding Lux Level Requirements for Commercial Lighting Design

MEP Engineering Design | MEP Design Service

Lighting design plays a key role in commercial buildings which are typically used by people to perform a task or conduct an activity. To achieve their tasks or activities in a workspace, the right amount of illuminance is necessary, over-lighting is as much as a hindrance to accomplishing tasks as under-lighting. Commercial lighting compared to industrial or residential lighting involves higher initial costs, higher maintenance, longer durability and lifespan and higher service costs. To identify the illumination level requirements or lux level requirements of a commercial building, it would be useful to understand the units of measurement of illuminance, the intensity or amount of light and the efficacy of the relationship between lux and lumen.

Illuminance or lux is the intensity of the level of light and ‘luminous flux’ or lumen is the amount of light produced. Lux is the unit of measurement usually measured in foot candles, one lumen is the measurement of the intensity of the light output and is equal to one lux across an area of one square meter. Given an area you may need to illuminate, the measurement of lux helps you identify the output or lumen required. Typically, for an office which is brightly lit around 400 lux of illumination is required and an office space which uses 100W incandescent bulbs in ceiling panels would produce 1600 lumens as the output of light. When a lighting design company designs light fixtures for a large commercial area, the number of light fixtures is usually increased to get higher lumen keeping in mind the lux level requirements.

A primary factor in ensuring efficiency in light design is achieved by balancing lux and watts or managing the amount of power used to produce light. The measurement of energy efficiency or the power required for light fixtures (luminaires) to operate is known as watts or wattage. The rate at which a light fixture converts power to light or watts to lumen is known as luminous efficacy and measured in lumens per watt (LPW). Typically, an office or commercial space with ceiling panels which would use 32W T5 or T8 fluorescent lamps would usually produce 50 lumens/watt.

Lux level requirements are calculated to determine the appropriate number of lights, the type of light fixtures and the best possible commercial lighting solution, based on the size of the office or commercial space, the type of task or activity which will be conducted and the energy efficiency standards required.

In most cases, based on the client requirements of lux levels, office spaces are over-lit and are usually more than rates mentioned in the lighting standard codes and guidelines developed by professional lighting bodies. Lighting consultants and MEP engineering design teams while keeping in mind client requirements must also consider lighting codes and guidelines which mention the minimum lux level requirements that need to be maintained. Several lighting professional bodies have published handbooks and guidelines, some of which include lighting guides published by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) in the UK, the IESNA Lighting Handbook by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and guides and lighting codes provided by the Lighting Council Australia.

To improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption, several countries have presented lighting codes and green building solutions which have made lighting manufacturers develop higher energy efficient light fittings. For offices and commercial spaces, the stipulated lighting watts/m2 is considered to be within the range of 10 to 15 watts/m2. With the increase in the use of LED light fixtures, lighting consultants are required to maintain lighting watts within the range of 5 to 8 watts/m2, while maintaining lux level requirements.

To ensure commercial lighting designs provide higher energy efficiency, lower energy consumption and better control on energy usage, lighting consultants and MEP engineering design teams must consider trending lighting solutions in the industry. From LED fixtures with advanced lighting controls, energy harvesting technologies, interactive lighting to connected lighting, there are several trends which a lighting design company could use to provide high energy-efficiency and customer-centricity in lighting design solutions for commercial spaces.

Why MEP Contractors Change MEP Design Models

MEP Design Services | MEP Consultants | MEP Services

In the MEP environment, a building’s MEP designs are initially developed at high level and then detailed to make them clash free and installation ready. MEP designers/consultants play a significant role in design decisions, construction planning, cost estimation and documentation. While design development is typically the role of the consultant and design detailing is done by the MEP contractor, when using MEP (M&E) BIM models and Revit BIM libraries, contractors invariably need to make changes to the MEP design model created by the consultant.

To make a design installation ready, contractors may have to make several changes to the design-intent such as resizing of ducts, re-routing of pipework, adding wall penetrations, bolt locations and datum points for hangars and changing equipment. Once these changes are made by the contractor, the design would be installation ready and will need to be approved by the MEP consultant. The question that this article seeks to answer is why do MEP contractors need to make these and other changes to MEP design models?

  • To adjust invert elevations – During the installation of plumbing or drainage pipes, MEP contractors deal with the point of the bottom inside of the pipe, this is known as the invert elevations. To guide pipe design and match the invert elevation height, elevation information can be vertically adjusted at the centre of the pipe using Revit. However, if you are unaware that the elevation information is in centre of the pipe, it could cause confusion in adjusting invert elevations and create discrepancies while coordinating with other disciplines. This is the reason why MEP contractors need to manually adjust invert levels, create spot elevations for the inside bottom of the pipe and change the design models to install pipes which are coordinated with other disciplines.
  • To retrofit MEP systems into a prefabricated module environment – Planning for prefabrication of MEP components into the 3D model would not be considered by designers and therefore the contractor is the party who will make adjustments to services to allow them to fit into prefabricated modules to maximise the advantages that are gained from off-site fabrication. In several MEP projects which require prefabrication of risers, ceilings and plant room areas, MEP services drawings and modules specifically for fabricators and installers is necessary to facilitate proper installation. MEP contractors make changes in the MEP design model to ensure that services fit within modules within the ceiling or riser space to allow prefabrication of MEP components off-site allowing faster installation on-site.
  • To facilitate efficient spatial coordination – When installing MEP systems, effective spatial coordination with other building services and disciplines is imperative. A consultant may leave clashes in a model as his focus will be on getting a design issue by a due date. A contractor is more concerned with actual fitting so after conducting a clash test on the 3d model, MEP contractors will invariably change design models to ensure that all services are not clashing. The installation programme of the MEP system depends on clash free layouts and MEP contractors must make sure that MEP systems are spatially coordinated with other disciplines in the 3D model before creating M&E (MEP) Coordinated Drawings.
  • To deal with constructability issues – There are several factors that influence the constructability or sequence in which MEP systems are installed. Some of the conflicts that require a change in MEP design include routing, fitting and sequencing of large equipment within a given space, conflicting piping network and installation of MEP systems within a crowded space. As MEP contractors need to tackle several conflicts and constructability issues before installing MEP systems, a change in MEP design usually occurs.
  • To install MEP systems economically and efficiently – While the MEP design intent may seem to be perfectly coordinated, it need not necessarily be economic or efficient when it involves installation. There are several costs involved when changes need to be made after installation such as re-routing pipes to reduce bends, re-positioning ducts to allow supply and extract in the correct locations, changing equipment or adding wall penetrations, bolt locations and datum points for hangars. To make sure that MEP systems are installed economically and efficiently, MEP contractors must make changes to MEP design models.
  • Changes in materials and components – In some cases the MEP model from a consultant is accurately modelled with specified parts, materials and components. However, in some cases projects do not have specified parts and a consultant may use library elements from Revit leaving the contractor to update the model using his planned procurement schedule. This will result in changes due to sizes and access requirements for new components such as a change from copper to plastic pipe which is thicker or a change from one set of pumps to another that may be larger and may have different valve arrangements. The knock-on effect of such component changes can mean that other systems also need to be changed.

Given the many reasons why MEP contractors need to change MEP designs and with the adoption of MEP (M&E) BIM practices, there is an overlap in the scope of MEP contractors and consultants during the planning phase. To know more about how you can reduce the duplication of efforts, additional costs, manage project schedules and reduce scope overlap, read more in this post to find out the possible routes that can be taken.

To ensure MEP design models are installation ready for MEP contractors to use on site, a viable solution would be to work with a 3D BIM coordination specialist or MEP engineering design service provider. At XS CAD, our experienced team of MEP designers in India provide BIM support and spatially coordinated building services drawings for key stakeholders in the MEP (M&E) industry, from MEP (M&E) consulting engineers and MEP (M&E) building services contractors. In our spatially coordinated MEP building services models, we use the latest 3D MEP (M&E) modelling software (Revit MEP) and clash detection technology (Autodesk Navisworks) to provide 3D M&E (MEP) coordinated drawings which adhere to engineering standards, the structural and architectural elements within a building.

Technical and Contractual Risks Associated with BIM

Blog-14thApril-2017BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a perfect solution for architects, design and construction teams to address design implementation challenges. 3D BIM coordination facilitates an evolving workflow, interoperability and collaboration between different project stakeholders. This has widened the scope and application of concept design, design development, implementation and project delivery methods.

With 3D BIM coordination, you can collaborate with designers, engineers, building services contractors and general contractors to communicate design intent and ensure the project is implemented efficiently from preconstruction concept review to construction completion. When collaboration happens at this scale, you need to consider the associated technical and contractual risks before you adopt BIM tools:

1.Data control – When using 3D BIM models, you may have different users entering data at various stages of a project lifecycle. To ensure there is responsibility for inaccuracies and control of data entry, you must ensure BIM users sign applicable indemnities, disclaimers and warranties. This will help you in controlling the movement of data and assigning responsibilities.

2.Assignment of responsibilities – Typically in BIM projects, many team members collaborate and ownership of BIM data must be clearly stated. To avoid conflict and confusion, you need to create contract documents that should clearly define ownership and assign responsibilities when using BIM data.

3.Proprietary information protection – In the process of design development and project implementation, proprietary information may be used by team members. While your client may have ownership rights for the design, contract documents need to clearly state the ownership rights of proprietary information to ensure protection.

4.Design licensing – In certain projects, designers and contractors may provide vendor designs and specifications of material and equipment. In such instances, you need to create policies to ensure that only those designs with relevant licenses for the project are used. This will help you in avoiding licensing issues of vendor designs associated with their products.

5.Consistency in the use of technology – When adopting BIM modeling and coordination processes, to maintain an efficient and smooth workflow, you need to ensure that different project stakeholders, who need to work collaboratively, are using software versions that are compatible. All users must be informed about changes in versions and software updates. Based on the BIM environment you choose, whether closed BIM (the use of the same software and version) or open BIM (the use of neutral or compatible file formats), you need to make sure this selection is agreed at the outset of the project. This will help in avoiding compatibility issues that may arise in the later stages of the project lifecycle.

In any collaborative environment, clearly defining responsibilities and rules will help in improving teamwork of various project stakeholders. You may adopt an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) strategy to build successful working relationships and facilitate efficient collaboration between your entire design, engineering and construction teams. While there is no secret formula or a common risk mitigation strategy, you can reduce conflicts and confusion by adopting best practices and creating well-defined contracts. By clearly specifying the roles, responsibilities and accountable members or groups, it will help you to create a successful collaborative environment and embrace an evolving concept such as 3D BIM coordination.

With BIM modeling you can improve the process of concept design, design development and communication of design concept to project stakeholders and clients. As new BIM technology is introduced, the next step would be to adopt a cloud-based BIM collaboration tool, such as A360 Collaboration for Revit (C4R). With cloud-based BIM tools, you can facilitate ‘borderless’ collaboration and allow project stakeholders to work on a model simultaneously from different sites, anywhere, anytime and on any device. By adopting BIM, you can improve collaboration between project teams, optimise project duration, reduce cost and strengthen client relationship.