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Revit Families Best Practices for Architecture

Today on the Design Under Influence Show, we discuss Revit families’ best practices for architecture with Kiran Nayak. Kiran is an architecture professional & digital design specialist. He works with firms to create a “bridge” between design and technology by crafting workflows and systems that make the design process more enjoyable, more efficient, and ultimately more profitable.

In a previous episode with Kiran Nayak, we discussed BIMs and how BIMs can benefit firms that do not currently use them. Among their biggest benefits was time savings in the design process. However, to maximally utilize the time-saving benefit, we have to prepare way ahead of time. This challenge is often experienced with Autodesk Revit, common tool designers use in BIMs.

What Can One Do Upfront to Optimally Benefit from Revit?

One of the things companies experience when migrating to Revit is that the biggest barrier of entry for them is the content within Revit itself. For example, Families. These don’t necessarily come out of the box with Revit, and establishing that library of families early on for small or large firms would serve as the groundwork for future efficiency. 

What is the Concept behind Revit families?

In simplified terms, a family to Revit is equivalent to a component in Rhino or Sketch Up or an AutoCAD block. However, it is also way more than that. For example, if you have repeating elements within the Revit Model, having a Revit family allows you to do the work once and then multiply that work across the firm.

This implies that a designer needs to be careful when creating a family so as not to run into difficulties further down the line.

What are the Kinds of families?

There are three kinds of families that are in-built within Revit. They include:

System Families: these typically consist of walls, floors, and other standard building elements.

Loadable Families: these are families that you can create and then import into your model. This function is why they are referred to as loadable. They range from elements like doors all the way down to the furniture. Basically, anything that is added to the building can be a loadable family.

Model and Place Families: These are building elements that you can model within Revit itself. This means that you do not need to create it with a template, instead of modeling it within the file.

The problem with this kind of family is that they are inherently impossible to duplicate. For this reason, it is not advisable to use them. However, if it is a one-off thing, then you can go ahead.

Are There Premade Libraries?

Though an empty Revit file does not have any families, it comes with some basic walls and floors (i.e., system families). If you want to add more complex elements, you would need to download some unique Autodesk families from the Autodesk website. Generally, this provides a good starting point. However, it is nowhere close to enough. You could instead develop a custom family library for your specific use.

Manufacturer Families

It is important to note that firms and individuals should not download manufacturer families into their files unless they intend to purge them of unnecessary parameters. This precaution is necessary because they come with a ton of garbage that you would not what to include in your model.

Publicly Accessible Content Libraries

We also do not recommend that designers download files off publicly accessible content libraries on the internet. The chances of it lacking essential features are usually not worth the time or effort.

Along with the Autodesk content mentioned above, there are also some templates that serve as a foundation for creating new families. Firms should develop a culture of educating people on how to create families because custom families are superior to other types. If a firm does not possess any in-house, they can always reach out to a consultant who will help them build custom families.

What are the Additional Benefits of Custom Families?

Along with the expected benefit of being uniquely suited to your needs, custom families come with additional benefits.

How to Store Content in an Easily Retrievable Way for Relevant Members of My Team?

  1. For a start, it is crucial to have an individual or team within the office that vets your family estate created and populated into the server. Your team should only be using correctly set up families that have the right parameters and show accurate accessibility requirements. This is because once that information is in the family, people tend to take it for granted that it is correct.
  2. Save them in a centrally accessible location on your network with a good naming convention. It would help if you had a pre-defined naming convention for all your files so that they are easy to save and find.
  3. Once the content is in your network, some tools can assist you in better curating them. Digital management tools can help you index tag and search for files across multiple networks if necessary. Two of these are AVAIL and UNIFI. They provide the added benefit of not being limited to Revit files as you can use them for anything from PDF to images across the office.

If you need more information on creating families, remember that you can contact us, ArchIT specializes in providing IT services for architecture, design, and engineering firms. or reach out to experts like Kiran, who can help you with issues like this.