Importing a Revit Model into Sketchup via IFC the Right Way, the Fast Way, the Best Way - PlusSpec

Why put a Revit Model inside SketchUp?

So you like the way Sketchup enables you to view a model yet your colleagues,  associates, designers or engineers have not seen the light and they Use Revit or Archicad. I get it, in fact, I started with Revit but I just love the freedom of Sketchup so I forced myself to figure out the best way to get my work done quickly and I am happy to share what I have learned.

Personally find that Revit “hollow shells” models and the information I need as a builder is simply not there so I detail in Sketchup, yet, many simply want to use the Revit file for photorealistic rendering or cannot afford the cost of Revit, no matter the reason the show must go on.  Now for the job to progress we all need efficiency in our workflow and we all need to put bread on the table regardless of what 3D software we choose so here is what I know about getting Revit into Sketchup.

Example video: Import IFC file from Revit for further Detailing and Estimating.

Part 1 Importing Revit IFC file

So you asked for the original Revit file and got a big fat NO, or you could not open the file, here is why.

My guess is you may not own a current version of Revit and just so you know you can’t back save Revit files like you can in SketchUp so the wrong file is useless unless you have the same version… grumble grumble.  Or, more likely, the Revit author does not feel comfortable sharing a Revit file with you & just so you know they are not being difficult, in many cases, there is either a lot of IP in their Revit Family ( A family is like a dynamic component in Sketchup ) that they rightfully own, that is too valuable to share.  Or the Designer does not want to be liable for items placed that are not in their scope of works or area of expertise… a big shout out to all of the Attornies right now,  thanks for ruining it for everyone….

What to do when you can’t get, or open a Revit file.

So you could not get a Revit file what do you do now?  Not all is lost, fortunately, there is a  universal file type called IFC, it’s like a DWG just a lot smarter. IFC is the acronym for Industry Foundation Class, the smart boffins over at Building Smart came up with a universal solution for sharing 3D models across most reputable software packages and the best thing about IFC over DWG it has more information than just Layers and geometry.

So what does this all mean?  Well if you can get a project as an IFC file you can import an IFC file into Sketchup ( File>Import> click the drop-down (bottom right) and select all supported Image types) and save yourself a bucket load of time and money reproducing geometry that has already been drawn.

Now that’s the good part, however,  not everything is rosy as in many cases the geometry will come in just like a pie thrown into a desert bowl from a distance, yes physically the geometry is there in Sketchup but it can be hard to work with and you could spend hours if not days trying to get everything fine and dandy just the way you like, and who has time for that?  Not me so I created a tool (plugin) that enabled me to do it fast and efficient just like it should be.

The manual way to prepare an IFC inside Sketchup is:

If you decide to clean up your IFC file manually the first thing you need to do is drill into the model, TIP: it is a good idea to keep entity info open so you know where you are at or you can just keep on clicking double-clicking and after about 60 clicks when you get to base geometry as there will no longer be a bounding box and you will now be able to select edges and faces just like you can in Sketchup.

Once you figure out how the IFC file is configured you can now start to pull it apart, in many cases, you will see purple prisms these are generated by Revit and are representations of space appropriately named as IFCSpace I personally delete these first as they are annoying.

It is a good idea to actually explode the top-level grounds: namely IfcProject, IfcSite, IfcBuilding, IfcBuildingStorey by Right click> Explode and then simply regroup all of the geometry Select all >Right click> make a group. This will nest your project and save you from wearing your pointer finger out trying to make changes.



What you put into exporting a Revit file dramatically improves what you get out of SketchUp.

In many cases, you will not have control over the way the file is prepared for you and if you think you are pushing your luck simply ask for the easiest IFC export option:  IN Revit go to File> Export> Save as IFC File, ideally IFC 2×3 and at least you will have a  start, however, in a few simple steps you could get the person exporting the IFC to help you out a heap, here is exactly what you should send them:

In Revit go to File> Export> Options> IFC Options.  The Revit user needs to check that the appropriate Revit categories have a Class name other than “Not exported”  and items that you do not want Like IFCspace are not exported, you may also request that they do not export furniture trees or even contours it is really up to you so tell them what you need if you can.

Best practices when exporting IFC from Revit

So you are the architect or author of the Revit file and you are not sure what you should be exporting. Here is the low down:  If you are contracted to do just a portion of the work, let’s say the design and you have imported say the engineering drawings MEP and other items yet you do not want to forward this information to external parties, it is important that you understand what you are doing.  if the person requesting the IFC file need everything in many cases it is best to get them to ask the provider Eg engineer, this way it is their responsibility to take up any errors or omissions with them.  Or ask the head contract or client, who should have a federated IFC file.

IFC Revit Export

Details on how to export an IFC using best practices

Basic Steps to estimating IFC BIM models

  1. Select “Import IFC File”  from the IFC tool in the PlusDesignBuild toolbar
  2. Once the IFC file is imported into Sketchup select the optimize button
  3. Wait for the prompt to come up stating optimization is complete.
  4. Open the “Custom Estimation” tool & select Apply Estimate to IFC Components
  5. You can also filter different materials and associate an estimate to IFC surfaces in Each, Area, Lineal and Cubic measure of the IFC file.
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