Revit Families 301 – The Struggle of the BIM Manager

by Tim Alatorre

frustrated Okay folks, this is a 300 series course. We’re not messing around anymore. Families are one of the most powerful and dangerous things in Revit and I think they deserve some discussion.

One of the greatest challenges I have as a BIM manager is the management of Revit Families. I’ve tried a number of different approaches over the years and I have yet to find one that I like 100%. I’ve always worked to establish a set of approved office standard families and have had an internal review and approval process. The standard families account for probably 90% of the families needed on a standard project, the problem lies in the 10% of custom families or the 90% customization needed when we do a new building type we haven’t done before.

In the early days I mistakenly thought that if I left modelers in the dark on how to edit families they wouldn’t do it. I could train a couple of key people to do all the family modeling. As you may expect, that didn’t work for long. People didn’t want to go through the hassle of having someone else make and edit a family, especially when they are under pressure from a project manager. They created families and edited the families themselves but because they didn’t know what they were doing they created families that couldn’t be reused without extensive reworking. Usually they spent an extensive amount of time going in circles or not enough time to do something right the first time. Days later when they would go to make a dimension change the family would break.

The other strategy is train everyone on editing families and hope for the best. This requires a lot more work for the BIM manager, training, supervision, review, etc. However the entire staff ends up more educated and because they know the inner workings of the family they can use them more effectively in the building model.

In general the people working on your models are intelligent, want to learn, and want to do a good job. In the long run teaching them how to create and edit families goes a lot further and will save you time.

About the Author

Tim Alatorre