Category Archives: Revit

Deborah Singerman Article: Why Architects and Designers are making the switch from Revit to PlusSpec 3D software

By | Architects, Architecture, BIM, Construction, Design, Designers, manufacturers, PlusSpec, Revit, Sketchup, Sketchup for Construction & Estimating, Software, Uncategorized, VDC, Waste reduction | No Comments

PlusSpec for design and construction

Award winning professionals use PlusSpec!

We would like to thank Deborah Singerman for her article on our latest 3D software, PlusSpec 2016. We liked it so much that we thought we would share it on our blog also:


Why Architects and Designers are making the switch from Revit to PlusSpec 

By Deborah Singerman


Ian Veroni from Dymaxion Design is a perfect example. When Ian Veroni won a copy of PlusSpec at a design conference, he stopped using Revit, and has never looked back.


What do you like about PlusSpec?

I previously used Revit from Autodesk as a design tool, but I immediately found PlusSpec to be very intuitive. It integrates with Trimble SketchUp, but takes it to a new level of BIM: it has the ability to construct everything together, assembling components and generating the build information, structure and BOQ for feasibility, simultaneously. It’s a great tool and has enhanced my ability to produce documents quickly, and better communicate my design intent to my clients and builder.


Which features do you mainly use?

You are able to bring in industry standard products from manufacturers, such as kitchen cabinetry, doors and windows. I also use the branded products built into the software. I like it that PlusSpec uses real products and manufacturers. I do not use all of them because I can create my own as well. Because of this, I am engaging more and more with building suppliers. The ‘Building Information Modelling’ aspects are very easy to manipulate (so that I can capture the correct information), and I love that I also can see this information visually.


This makes designing so much quicker; mind you, this does not take away from the fact that the design process still takes some time. You still have to do the annotations, dimensions, bill of quantities, though you can generate quantities quickly and with little data input from yourself. I am reliant on the builder giving me cost information to input, which will allow me to tell the client the expected quantity of e.g. brickwork, and they get a good sense of that and can say, ‘ok’. I can apply cost per square metre and see if it comes close to realising the budget, and it means that I can give the client a ballpark figure for their budget purposes – and understand cost implications at any given time, so that I design within their budget.


PlusSpec’s new tool for truss design is also brilliant: absolutely amazing. It allows you to create trussed roof framing, which helps resolve conflict and clashes in the roof design.


How else has PlusSpec helped you?

The parametric components combined with SketchUp’s 3D environment have made it so much easier to communicate with clients. There is not just the 3D model for them to look at but a 3D model that has built component features within it. For instance, with SketchUp you are creating surface finishes and so forth, independently – but with PlusSpec those components and finishes, the brick types, interior wall finishes and so on, are built in. They are all part of the parametric assembly. You can add your component height and generate the design around that, so it is a lot easier to focus on design work and concentrate on actually designing.


My clients are now tending to look at the 3D work more and more, and can anticipate the finished product in 3D format to get their design ideas quickly. This means you can engage a client in the design process from the get-go. PlusSpec delivers highly conceptual solutions so the client can visualise their own building, and you can more easily discuss their requirements. In the past they might ask, ‘what is that little bit over there’ but now they can can see it in context immediately and say ‘oh that’s great, I get it’. Or they can let you know if, for instance, they think a fixture is going to be a bit too close to a bathtub or cabinetry as an example.


On a day-to-day basis, how do you incorporate PlusSpec into your work?

I previously worked full time at Woolworths Ltd. as national design manager and started my own business a year ago. I moved up to the Hunter Valley a year ago too. I am mainly doing residential work and one of two small commercial projects such as an outbuilding for a winery and a storage facility for a large property which includes an upgrade to an existing building. I live in The Vintage, a golf course (designed by Greg Norman) development with a hotel and residential component, in the heart of the wine region.


I deal with engineers, builders and contractors. I am currently going through a design review and council Development Applications. These plans can vary with their comments. Documents then need to change rapidly and PlusSpec helps tremendously with this documentation. I can also pull a lot of data out of the parametric information and apply that to the specification as well.


Builders sit here with me and have been astounded by the information I can give them just with a mouse click. It is very useful for them – especially because PlusSpec automatically generates customisable structure, and allows me to show details of the design in 3D.


It is very collaborative software. As a designer using the PlusSpec tool with an owner and builder is absolutely huge. It has really helped me with clients; it has taken about 80 per cent of the work I have to do. You can collaborate, which is difficult to do in an industry that does not change quickly. It’s all there.


I am passionate about my work, and that passion has been enhanced by PlusSpec.


Deborah Singerman’s original article can be found here.


About the author:

Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing, proofing and project management consultancy, specialising in the urban built environment, design, creativity and community. @deborahsingerma;

Revit Imports How to use a Sketchup Model in Revit

By | Architects, IFC, Revit | No Comments

This is the easiest way to get a Sketchup model into Revit

Many architects and building designers use Sketchup for mass modelling and concept work and then export the Sketchup model and import it into Revit. Up until the release of Sketchup 14, 15 and 16 there was an issue with triangulating. I won’t go into the reason for this all you really need to know is it looked terrible  and was difficult to work with.

This is how to Export to Revit from Sketchup without any bother.

Select File menu top RHS of Sketchup, hover over Export  in the menu, select 3D model, go to the bottom of the dialogue box and click the drop down next to save File As,  you will see IFC File (*.IFC) and a list of other export formats. Select IFC and then click export.  Remember to save the file in a location you can easily find.  NOTE This option is only available is Sketchup Pro. Sketchup has 2 versions, Sketchup Make and Sketchup Pro. You can download them both for free here
Select File export 3D model IFC for Revit import

Select File export 3D model IFC to Revit

Once you export your IFC model you can import in Revit

This is what it looks like in Sketchup Pro 15

  Sketchup pro has a free 30 day trial so you will be able to export IFC, DWG and many other file formats that come with the pro version. IFC is by far  the most accurate method although the textures you use will not come out in Revit. If you want to test or find a Sketchup model that is low in poly count you can get a good quality model from RubySketch here Get a Sketchup model here these models are also free. Once you open your model in Sketchup  you can simply go to File export 3D model IFC and then import the IFC model into Revit. Depending on the version of Revit you are suing you can also import Sketchup files. You can also find more information here

There are also Sketchup Plugins that can automate the IFC classification

You may also be happy to know that Sketchup has Plugins. I am not sure if you are aware of PlusSpec? PlusSpec it is a parametric modeller that automatically attributes individual items, walls, roofs, stairs, windows and structure so that when you bring your model in to Revit it will automatically be classified which essentially means you can extract vital information that will optimise your workflow.    

The Problem with BIM

By | ArchiCAD, Architects, Architecture, BIM, Construction, Design, Designers, PlusSpec, Revit, Sketchup | No Comments

It’s not meant to be hard.

The Secret of BIM_Its not meant to be hard Disclaimer:  No Grandmothers were harmed in the making of this article (as we did not make them try to use any of the mainstream BIM software systems).   The word ‘simple’ is often interpreted as meaning something that lacks power or sophistication. In fact, many professionals often equate simplicity with being amateurish. But in the words of Steve Jobs ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’.   The ‘Grandmother principle’ does not actually mean that something should be so simple to use that even your Grandmother could use it. The Grandmother principle outlines that if something is overly complex, then it will inevitably cost you and your business as much as it will ever give you.   The truth is that current BIM software have innumerable complexities and constraints – especially for Residential design and construction. They are incredibly difficult to learn, cost you a vast sum of money to purchase and upskill staff (which is why the vast majority of practices do not even provide sufficient training), as well as prolonged periods of unproductiveness. Complexity also breeds specialization. Software specialization is bad news for Architects, Builders and Estimators. Why? Architects need to focus on design. Builders need to focus on construction. And Estimators/Quantity Surveyors need to focus on estimating. Software is merely a tool – an evolution of the pencil and paper, which should simply allow you to work faster and smarter.   You need a software solution that is simple to teach and quick to master. You should not have to structure your recruitment process around software specialization, or fear losing staff simply due to their ability to use a program.   To quote John Maeda in The Laws of Simplicity, ‘Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.’   SketchUp logo For those of you who have never used SketchUp, it is the most popular free-form 3D modeling software in the world. As the name suggests, SketchUp was born out of the desire to design in 3D in a manner that is reminiscent of sketching. As the team at SketchUp put it, ‘SketchUp Pro is like a pencil with superpowers.’ And they are not wrong. SketchUp has been created so that you can design in 3D with freedom. It allows you to concentrate on designing, not modeling. In the words of the SketchUp team ‘When the medium is simple enough, the barriers to creativity disappear.’   The problem with SketchUp is that even though it is used by the vast majority of design professionals, it is often derided for being too simple (and lacking those much needed BIM features). It is more often than not deemed to be a great concept design and visualization tool, which is put into a similar category as Photoshop: nice to have, but not essential.   And even though a large portion of Professionals have been vehement in their belief that SketchUp could not compete with other full implementation BIM software, the simple truth is that millions of Professionals around the world love using it, and have been waiting for SketchUp to become smarter, more powerful, and parametric – so that it could truly compete with the likes of Revit and ArchiCAD.   That time has arrived. Introducing PlusSpec for SketchUp: PlusSpec for SketchUp 3D CAD & Estimation Software Logo PlusSpec for SketchUp is an amazing new design and estimating 3D CAD software, that combines the power of BIM (Building Information Modelling), VDC (Virtual Design and Construction), 3D Modelling, 2D Planning/documentation, and Estimation. PlusSpec uses real manufacturers products from the free RubySketch online library, and generates automatic specifications and product schedules. Material take-offs and estimates are formulated as you design. PlusSpec incorporates parametric modelling within the native SketchUp platform, so that any design option can be explored quickly and easily in either BIM or free-form 3D.   Although PlusSpec for SketchUp can be used for any type or size of construction, PlusSpec has been specifically designed for Residential design and construction, and it is the first CAD software that benefits both Design Professionals and Builders/Contractors/Estimators equally.   Material take-offs and estimates (Builders & Estimators) and feasibility studies (Architects) will never be the same again.   PlusSpec has grown SketchUp into a full implementation (from concept to construction) BIM solution that will finally provide Architects and designers with the tool that they have been waiting for. It has been created so that you can design, document and prepare feasibility studies or estimates faster and smarter. You have the best of BIM technology and parametric modeling (PlusSpec), as well as free-form modeling (SketchUp), which provides you with total design freedom. You are not limited by components/families, or our wall types. In fact, your imagination, is your only boundary!   PlusSpec for SketchUp is the perfect balance between design and construction and epitomizes and enhances the SketchUp mantra: ‘Great tools are ones you look forward to using…They let you do what you want without having to figure out how. They help with the hard or boring tasks so that you can focus on being creative, or productive, or both.’    PlusSpec for SketchUp is Revolutionizing Residential BIM: Perform complex tasks, simply. Enrich your workflow. Easy to learn and upskill. Increase your efficiency. Maximize your profits!   Take a look for yourself:

Why so many acronyms with BIM?

By | ArchiCAD, Architects, Architecture, BIM, Designers, IFC, Revit | No Comments
Are acronyms getting in the way of progression and adoption of time saving technology? Here is an insert I took from a document I read in relation to Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Standards.
“Most CEN and CENELEC Committees have parallel activities in ISO and IEC, and in some cases the same organisation provides the Secretariat for both an international and regional Committee. There are agreements between CEN/CENELEC and ISO/IEC regarding exchange of information” ……………..
Here is my take on the industry : I have been reading through many documents on Building Information Modelling (BIM) of late; no wonder so many peoples heads spin. To be honest, Building Information Modelling  is really not that complicated. We have been doing it the hard way for centuries and Building Information Modelling is simply  a 3D model  created with a Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) program to organise & simplify the process of design, construction, manufacturing and maintenance. Surely we do not need hundreds of acronyms to convey this? Are the editors lazy or is it that the puzzle has not been 100% solved? Let’s just make it that little bit harder to decipher a document shall we? As you may all know I am a big fan of creating & refining systems to increase productivity. I was introduced to our industry at 15 years of age and even back then I thought to myself that this industry needs some innovation. I am hardly considered an intellect yet blind Fred could read the writing on the wall. I was taught to draw by hand with the old cedar drawing board , T Square and one of those new fan dangle clutch pencils which saved us all a good 5 seconds of hard labour sharpening. Before I decipher the acronyms I would like to give an overview of where I think we are now. I choose to skip the 2D CAD days as essentially they yield a similar result to hand drawing. I am going to skip a decade or two so you can get back to your paying jobs. Today we have drawing tools that are easy to use and have the ability to represent every element in 3D,  every nut bolt and screw if you chose to do so ( I hope you don’t). Lets look at what we really need out of a drawing to build and maintain the dwelling. Do we need acronyms? I do not think so. So what do we need to design and build a project?
  1. We need a client with space or property, who needs a facility to either protect themselves, their employees and or their equipment or pets  from the elements, a place to live, work from or a place to relax.
  2. We need a brief from the client explaining the purpose of the facility.
  3. We need to represent that facility in a portable document that can be interpreted, annotated, refined & stored.
  4. We need to communicate on that document with authorities, builders, engineers/consultants, surveyors, manufacturers and product distributors.
  5. We need to collaborate on that document and create a specification.
  6. We need a cost indictaion associated with Design, Build, Maintenance & a running cost EG. utilities
  7. We need a schedule to work from
  8. We need a bill of materials
  9. We need a maintenance schedule
  10. We need a record of who did what, when, why and how long before it will need replacing or maintaining. (Facility Maintenance)
  11. In most cases we need appropriate weather.
Items 3 to 10  can be accomplished with traditional 2D drawing and paper documentation, yet 3D drawings with Building Information are far more efficient and easier to interpret, therefore attracting more clients to BIM adopters. Put simply the art of BIM is associating appropriate information with geometry and using a system that extracts the necessary data that is related to the construction and maintenance of the facility.  What does that mean? It means the geometry/Model represent the Building, the components that it is made from & the Information clarifies the who, what, why where and when. BIM breaks down the top 10 items into categories and structure to efficiently  store and handle documentation. We as designers and builders do not have to do this, it is being done for us. However we do need to understand the process, which I must say is a lot easier than creating the process. For Building Information Modelling to be successful there need to be standards. These standards need to be easy to read and understand. Below I have decided to start compiling a list of commonly used acronyms you may find helpful… Feel free to add more as no doubt there are many I have missed.

Acronyms associated with Architecture and Building Information Modelling (BIM)

AEC Architecture Engineering and Construction
BOQs Bill Of Quantities
CAD Computer Aided Design
CAE Computer Aided Engineering.
CAM Computer Aided Manufacturing
CGI Computer Generated Imagery
FM Facilities Management
GIS Geographical Information System.
IFC Industry Foundation Class
IPD Integrated Project Delivery
IPE Integrated Project Environments
ISO International Standards
LOD Level of Development
MEP Mechanical Electrical Plumbing
QTO Quantity Take Off
ROI Return on Investment
VDC Virtual Design & Construction
WD Working Draft
4D Linking of 3D CAD components or assemblies with time/schedule
5D Linking of 3D CAD components or assemblies with schedule & cost
Let me just say BIM is not hard. There are various software packages out there that enable steps 1 to 10 to be refined and they get better every year. I personally use PlusSpec as it reduces the likelihood of error and it does more for less money. Some others in the industry use Revit, Archicad & Bentley and all of the products are simply tools to help reduce time and increase efficiency. With the introduction of IFC (a format that can be used various brands of software) we can all now collaborate on the same drawings and information associated with the project regardless of products we use or how much we pay for them.  

Sketchup 14 and PlusSpec

By | ArchiCAD, Architecture, BIM, Construction, PlusSpec, Revit, Sketchup | No Comments
Hi guys, I have been fielding a lot of emails from our Australian users about how does PlusSpec go inside of Sketchup 14. I am pleased to say PlusSpec works  inside of Sketchup 14 and I am so happy with the updates in Layout. If BIM is your thing then you will love PlusSpec inside Sketchup 14. We do have a few small teething issues with network drives, yet if you are using Sketchup on a local drive than you will have no problems Many of the 30+ million Sketchup users use Sketchup for concept design and then export the model to other software such as Autocad, Revit & Archicad. In the early stages of Layout I did the exact same thing.  Can I suggest if you are still doing this you should consider giving Layout another try. Essentially you are are doing the same thing twice. I know a lot of you have not had the privilege of using PlusSpec yet when you do, I’m sure you’ll find that drawing in 3d and plotting to 2d has never been easier. In Australasia a lot of architects provide a specification with their drawings and this is a huge driving force behind BIM.  I like you needed to have an accurate specification and I wanted that specification to be directly related to the model. To date this functionality has alluded Sketchup users yet with the addition of PlusSpec, this is easier to do in Sketchup Pro than any other software package I have ever used. sketchup14-bim-plusspec-design-build-architect-builder1 sketchup14-bim-plusspec-design-build-architect-builder   Parametrics in Sketchup… Hooray! Many Sketchup users say goodbye to their model once they are out of concept stage, as editing a model can be cumbersome, especially if the user is not experienced.  Having the ability to add, remove, adjust and alter was never a simple process. Well my friends those days are gone! Adding scenes and altering geometry to enable 2d plotting in Layout was time consuming to say the least!  With PlusSpec those days are gone.. Quantifying with Sketchup could be done yet it was a hit and miss event. If you are not a Sketchup Ninja then forget about it. Those days are also gone. How about creating Groups and components? need I say it… Gone! So many niggles that used to bug me and take away from my design dare I say it?  GONE! If you have not pre registered for PlusSpec you may want to hurry before they are all…… Gone.    

Sketchup for Units of Measurement

By | ArchiCAD, BIM, Construction, PlusSpec, Revit, Sketchup | 6 Comments
 Units of measure around the world. In Australia we use primarily metric for everything. Some of the old tradies will still talk in feet and inches yet when ordering, specifying and constructing metric is the only way to communicate. As you guys probably know we are about to release PlusSpec, it is a BIM add on for Sketchup that will save any Architect and builder and tradie a lot of time. We primarily made it for Australia yet the amount of emails and correspondence I am getting to my inbox from around the globe is some what overwhelming. I understand how the US works as it is primarily imperial so we pretty much have that sorted now but from what I understand much of Europe have a bit of a hybrid system going. EG the cars speedometer reads in miles. No doubt your wondering why it matters as Sketchup works in many imperial or metric yet we also added an element of units into the walls, and floors to reduce the amount of work that goes into BIM. framing and structural ellements in Sketchup and PlusSpec Wall with PlusSpec and wall with Sketchup1 There are nominal sizes and actual that also cause a problems. EG 2*4 in the US is actually 1.5″*3.5″. Over in the land down under if we draw the plan in nominal sizes (100mm walls) the carpenters and builders get cranky as 90mm is the actual size of them wall and when they are setting out it does not take long to get a 50mm discrepancy. So nominal sizes are important here. Why did I decide to create the plugin? I think that Revit and Archicad are far too expensive. They are hard to use and the file sizes are not portable without using drop box. With Sketchup I can email my plans and model all in one and we use it on a tablet. Having a drawing tool and a construction tool all in one is of great benefit to my building company, my clients and my carpenters. We call it BIM (building information modelling) BIM is a great tool when it is automated as we have. For any of you Archicad or Revit guys you will know what I mean when it comes to attributing wall types and material types it can be some what cumbersome to say the least. With PlusSpec everything has a name, everything has an attribute and everything has a layer. There is no need to make components and groups or nest components, there is no need to cut windows though several layers, it is all done for you in a simple to use toolbar inside of Sketchup. The walls can move and adjoining walls will move with them. The floors are components, the walls are components and the structural elements are present and can be turned on an off to suit the application. The roofing tool  constructs multiple  roof types yet it  allows you to change pitch, roofing materials and gutters and roof types with a single click. for me to be able to get it out to the rest of the world I would like a bit of feedback on how you guys use Sketchup for construction and construction drawing. I would like to know what country uses a combination of imperial and metric. If anyone could send me a drawing similar to the one at this link it would be fantastic. No doubt there are many people using Sketchup for construction that would like a bill of quantities attached to a model and that is something that PlusSpec does very very well. your help would be much appreciated.

Revit Model Optimization and Best Practices Part 3

By | Architecture, BIM, Construction, Revit | No Comments
Rooms and Spaces
  • Only select the Room Bounding option for linked files if they are absolutely needed to bound volumes (rooms and spaces). Revit will need to process these additional boundaries, which can affect model performance. Revit will need to process these additional boundaries, which can affect model performance. This option is a type parameter of the linked file.
  • Promptly resolve warnings about room boundaries overlapping.
  • If you have two levels with the same elevation, Revit will perform better if all rooms are placed on one of the two levels, rather than dividing the same rooms between the two levels.
  • Avoid coincident room separation lines overlapping each other and overlapping walls. To locate room separation lines in a model, create a wireframe view template with walls and room or space separation lines visible.
  • Set room or space separation line color to red with a heavy line weight so they are easy to identify.
  • Place room separation lines on one workset for better control. (see Worksets section). Read More

Revit Model Optimization and Best Practices Part 2

By | Architecture, BIM, Construction, Revit | No Comments
So here is this week’s best practices for you guys:
  • Minimize geometric detail that will be invisible at the chosen output scale. The necessary level of detail in a given model can often be conveyed to a team in terms of a commonly understood drawing scale, such “Provide detail to a ¼” level of detail” or some other commonly employed measure of scale. As much as possible, leverage the project team’s understanding of typical 2D drawing conventions to invest the correct level of complexity into the model. Read More

Revit Model Optimization and Best Practices

By | BIM, Revit | No Comments
Thanks to Autodesk for releasing this document for model optimizing and best practices in Autodesk Revit 2014, Revit Architecture 2014, Revit MEP 2014 and Revit Structure 2014 and we thought it would be important to share it with you guys.
Each week we’re going to release a set of tips from this document and share it with you guys.
General Guidelines:
In general, the following characteristics of a Revit model can affect performance:
  • Complex geometry
  • Multiple parametric relationships
  • Multiple constraints
  • Graphically complex views
  • Linked files
The following sections will examine many aspects of modeling and recommend certain practices in particular situations, but examining a model and its constituent families with these factors in mind will aid in optimizing model performance.
Arrays can be used to copy and associate objects together. After the array is deployed, performance may be improved by ungrouping the arrayed, removing the parametric associations of the copied objects.
may also be cleared before when creating the array to attain the same result. Read More