BIMBeing: The Journey #11
#11 – We need rules…
Photo by Miguel Constantin Montes from Pexels
The construction industry is dominated entirely by rules: We’ve got building regulations, national (BSI) and international (ISO) standards, institutional guidance such as that produced by RIBA or CIBSE, accreditation targets like BREEAM and a whole host of other sources of information which govern our every move. You can’t design or build anything without the requirements of at least one of these being relevant. The rules very quickly become over-bearing on a project to the point that we feel restricted, buried beneath piles of contradicting documents; we’ve all got to that f*ck-it point, wishing we could ignore everything and just get on with it. Why do we need so many rules anyway?! Are we that useless?
Well the answer, unfortunately, is yes. The problem is that we’re collectively very bad at just ‘doing our own thing’; we don’t communicate with one another, so take away even the simplest of rules and we end up in a total mess, and nowhere is this more evident than when looking inside a BIM model. From the national and international standards at the top of the tree down to the internal company standards and best modelling practices, we rely heavily on all of them if we stand any chance of producing good information. We can’t be consistent without them.
The move from standard 2D CAD to BIM capable platforms such as Revit was not only a technological change, it was a cultural one too. A lot can be hidden when the deliverables are only 2D drawings, it may not be obvious if corners have been cut or rules ignored, but BIM exposes everything – there’s nowhere to hide the rubbish. It’s like walking into an expensive shop and looking at a wonderfully curated display, meticulously presented and seemingly faultless. Then you go to the back of the shop and open a door marked ‘Private’, peek into the stock room and see stock flung everywhere and graffiti up the walls; it’s the opportunity to look beyond the attractive facade and see how things really operate. This is where the lack of discipline, likely originating from a lack of clear guidance (or rules), becomes glaringly obvious.
One of my most favourite examples of this is a consultant model from a previous project. Now there were many issues with this Revit model in particular, from poor modelling practice to an unbelievable quantity of Warnings, but one small thing stood out more than anything else. Looking through the project browser at the list of views was truly amusing:
- Level 01 (please dont delete)
- Level 01 (please dont delete)(1)
- Level 01 (please dont delete)(2)
- Level 02 test for a purpose i do not need to describe in the view name because it makes it very long
- Level 02a
- Level 02aa
- Level 02aaaaaaaaa
- Level 02asdfbafbkjbhf
- Level 03 (MrSmiths do not touch)
- Level 03 my view only
- Level 03 sheet view do not modify
- Section 17 DO NOT DELETE
- Elevation 1 (PLEASE PLEASE DONT DELETE ME)
How many times have you opened a model and seen this?!
Aside from being hilarious, this demonstrates a few of things. Firstly, there is absolutely no trust amongst this modelling team. It shows a general lack of respect for the work of others and it insinuates that previously people have gone to the working views of others, messed around and left them in a completely unusable state (hence the capitalisation and desperate repetition of please). Secondly, it shows that this model is in total disarray. Views are not named correctly or consistently, duplicates can be seen everywhere and working views have not been removed prior to issuing the model for use by others – this is the messy stock room on display to all. If something as basic as view naming cannot be consistent, what hope is there for the rest of the content? Thirdly, and most importantly, it shows a lack of clear guidance and discipline – there are no rules!
With Revit as the example, there are so many things to get wrong, so many opportunities to make a mess: the naming of views, schedules and sheets; the naming, categorisation and attributes of the model objects; the use and naming of reference lines, planes and room separators; line styles, text styles and view templates…the list continues, on and on and on.
Something as basic as poor view organisation plainly shows why we need the ridiculous quantity of rules that we have in industry, without them we can’t get even the simplest things to be correct and consistent. A clear internal modelling standard or best practice document (with training) would prevent all of the nonsense that can be seen above. I’d like to point out that the view list i’ve used is not even an exaggeration, it’s far from it. The model in question had in excess of 2000 views, of which around 50% were not placed on a sheet and could therefore be deemed temporary/WIP. It’s bad practice, but most importantly, it’s bad guidance.
A couple of things to take away then. Firstly, the next time that you’re punching one of the many rulebooks that govern our industry that are supposedly restricting your every move, stop and think about the consequences of not having it. What are those rules trying to achieve, and where would we be without them? I’ve used relatively harmless examples of model management here but there are many more serious consequences for not following the rules, especially when considering topics such as material specification, structural design and health and safety.
And finally, just when you think that you’ve already got too many rules, think about where you may need more. Industry standards are only half of the story, internal best practices are the missing key to producing quality, consistent information. Think about that messy stockroom that may be your BIM model, then think about what you could do to tidy it up and keep it in order.
Do you have any good examples where a lack of basic rules has left you in a mess? Do you have a mind-blowing recommendation to prevent these issues? Share below in the comments!
Remember, we need the rules.