Revit – How to Choose the Right Version for Your Firm

Welcome to Design Under Influence.  Today’s discussion centers on Revit.  Revit is a software tool for architects and engineers.  It is also used in construction.  It is a good tool that lives throughout the lifecycle of the building.  Revit’s database-driven approach (often called Building Information Modeling or BIM) has had a dramatic impact on the design and build community.  If you are considering purchasing Revit, we will help you to understand which version is best for your needs and what the implementation may look like.  Today, we will discuss two of Revit’s options:  Revit and Revit LT.    

What is Revit? 

Revit is the technology that was built for Building Information Modeling (BIM).  Through this platform, you can develop a building model that is 3D with a data backbone to it.  Rather than drawing individual sheets or drawings, you are building a model, and then drawings are created because of that modeling.  Because it is a database, there is a bidirectional relationship between the objects that are in the model, both on the 3-dimensional side and also within the data in the objects. 

Why choose Revit instead of AutoCAD? 

Even though AutoCAD has been around for a long time, it is still viable for many small firms.  However, if your firm has a few people (more than two or three) that are working on a project at the same time, Revit’s database is set up to facilitate multi-users working at the same time.  For example, someone is working on an elevation drawing, and another is working on a plan.  If there are changes in one or the other, those will be reflected in your sheets at the end. Revit does a good job of handling the coordination that must be done manually if using AutoCAD. 

Revit’s coordination features are excellent.  Not only can you coordinate within your team on a project, but also with others, such as Structural, Electrical or Mechanical, making sure that all of their designs can fit.  With Revit, there is another level of coordination that can be performed which is called “Clash Detection” you can only really effectively do it if you have objects in 3D – this analyzes a model for collisions between specific types of objects (like Beams and Piping). If you are using Revit with consultants, like an electrical, mechanical, or structural engineer, you can perform effective preconstruction work right out of the box.  Revit is purpose-built for those sorts of studies. 

Revit Versions 

As Revit has grown over the years, so have the choices – there are now different options or “flavors”.  The main products are Revit and Revit LT, which is their “lite” version.  Both versions include tools for multiple disciplines.  Regardless of whether you are an architect, landscape, or structural, you will have many of the same tools.  Revit LT has fewer capabilities in terms of multiuser environments.  If you do have multiple people that need to work in a model, Revit LT will not be the right product for you.  

In terms of price, LT comes in at a great price point.  Right now, quoting from Autodesk, for Revit LT on a monthly subscription, you are looking at about $60 USD per user.  For yearly, it is about $475 USD.  For full Revit, you are looking at about $320 USD per month or $2500 USD yearly per user.  

Revit LT is great, especially for a company that is looking at dipping its toe into building information modeling (BIM) to test the waters.  Revit LT is terrific for residential or commercial, if you are not doing organic 3D form or style buildings, then all the tools you will need for a conventionally designed building will be in Revit LT.  However, if you are using a rendering plug-in or different types of add-ins, Revit LT does have some limitations, and this is one: Revit LT does not allow you to use add-ins.  So LT is really just the core platform, not dissimilar to AutoCAD LT as a variant from full AutoCAD. 

Hardware requirements for Revit. 

Processors – To run the LT version of Revit, the requirements will be different than running the full version.  In both cases, Revit is very processor-heavy.  A fast process is a must.  We recommend Quad Core with a minimum speed processor of 3 GHz.   

Graphics – Another necessity is a graphics card.  For Revit LT, a lower-end graphics video card would be okay.  However, for the full version or Revit, especially if you are using additional plug-ins for rendering like Enscape or Lumion, you want to have an RTX graphics card for media in your computer.   

Memory – ArchIT recommends no design workstations with less than 16 gigs of memory.  That is the minimum.  The memory of 32 gigs is better and 64 gigs are really nice to have.   

Bandwidth – Another consideration is also network speed bandwidth.  This is especially important if you are working on a multiuser project as it can make a big difference. 

Implementation and Costs 

Revit LT does not offer a network deployment.  This means if you have multiple users, it will take longer to install on to user’s workstations and to have them all configured in the same way.  In terms of getting the software installed, it is remarkably similar in operating for AutoCAD or similar size CAD software.   

There are also considerations about creating a Revit template and library (which we will not discuss in detail here), that make implementation successful and match the company’s type of work and your style.  Those are the hidden costs that you want to keep an eye out for.  ArchIT is a great service provider that can help provide more information about that.   

If you are considering Revit LT as your first step, then you must install that product on each individual workstation one by one.  It cannot be done through a network deployment.  It takes more time.  Revit LT will work for a smaller firm (1–5 users); however, once your firm grows larger (7–10 users), you will need the full version of Revit.  When that happens, you will need to install Revit on ten computers, versus five computers, and your deployment strategy will have to change.  The great thing about the full version of Revit is that it allows you to create network deployment.  As an IT person, using the tools, you can create a deployment and then each individual workstation can go to the server and download that version of Revit, configured the same for all of the 10 or 20 computers that you have.  It saves a tremendous amount of time. 

ArchIT has processes for helping our clients with ongoing management.  We have tools that we can deploy across the whole population easily and manage those deployments making sure that it is successfully deployed and reroute deployments if needed.  There is an extra effort in managing the update process in the software.  

ArchIT’s manage deployment service is a valuable use of time and expense, especially if you are a small company.  Having someone who can really help you set things up and manage them on an ongoing basis, is a huge timesaver.  You can spend a great deal of valuable time adding or removing or trying to fix some installation that went wrong on a users’ computer.   

In conclusion, if your firm is larger than three or four users, you probably want to get the full version of Revit.  It offers other features too, like plugins that can help you with implementations of standards and all sorts of capabilities that you would not have otherwise.   

But, Revit LT is a great place to start out and just test the waters.  It offers the ability to coordinate a design model, create great drawings/sheets, develop 3D views and provides a good entry point to building information modeling. 

Autodesk does offer what they call “The AEC collection”.  That bundles Revit with useful software, particularly if you are already using AutoCAD.  With that bundle, you also get the license of AutoCAD.  So, you will have Revit, AutoCAD, Simple 3D Recount, some other software that we can discuss another time, but the price for that (at the time of this article) is $390 USD per month versus Revit, which is $320 USD.  It is only a bit more, but you get quite a bit more out of that.  The yearly is around $3100 USD.   

For those of you who are looking for help, please reach out to us.  ArchIT specializes in providing IT services for architecture, design, and engineering firms

We only work with design, engineering, and architecture firms. We can do project-based or full-on management services.  Let us take care of your technology, so you can do your best work.