Tuesday, July 24, 2007

7.24.07 NIBS Posting

Deborah and Team,

I was in transit when receiving this string and was really excited to see it reach this point. First of all I am a young architect, and I have been working independently with a local group of colleagues, architects and software developers and we have begun going through the somewhat arduous task of creating an in house library of wall assemblies. Keep in mind, anyone can develop these exact same standards and assemblies as they are simply based off of the CSI Uniformat assembly codes, which dovetail into RSMeans components. (We use Revit in house, which defaults to these standards, which seem to work pretty well. Additionally, I have seen that other BIM platforms have similar capabilities and defaults.) Unfortunately in our case, we seem to be out running Autodesk's current capabilities/offerings and have found that we need to streamline our own processes.

So far, the easiest way to compile multiple elements with their own inherent information is into an assembly that contains all of the individual component information linked to that assembly code. For instance, in a typical 3-5/8" stud wall with 5/8" gypsum board each side. The 5/8" gyp bd with a level 4 finish would be a RS Means assembly of 092910.30 2050. The 3-5/8" metal stud @ 16" o.c. would be RSMeans 092216.13 1640. The Uniformat assembly code then contains the Means data for both of these assemblies into an assembly number, (incidentally C1010190) Needless to say this is what third-party estimating programs break back down for you in the estimate as well as how third-party specification writing software create outline specifications from an exported model.

Here's the hitch. The Uniformat code in our opinion needs to be updated to literally contain a significant enough amount of detail to actually be useful. Even the ability to add RSMeans data to the wall type for additional information would be really helpful. We have started to discuss developing an add-on routine that asks a series of questions. So when a wall is to be modeled, (much like some proprietary specification software, but less detailed) questions such as, "Does this wall have vinyl wall base? What width is the base? Does this wall have cove molding? Is this wall fire rated? Etc.." After these questions are answered most walls in the model are able to be generically modeled and simply match the properties of other similar walls in the model. As an architect, when at times I want to just model a building quickly, and I don't want to answer questions. At this point we would model with these generic walls. Generic walls would then remain highlighted or a unique color associated with them to indicate they need to have additional information added to them later. Another option, would be to simply increase the number of pull down menus in the properties to allow us to select "Chair rail - with a yes or no carrot" that we expand on in the specifications to really dig into it.

As far as custom walls, ceilings, floors etc, the basic assembly substrate might have RSMeans or Uniformat codes but then it would be up to the "Modeler" to create these model components upon this framework. For instance 4" wide by 1/2" Recycled Teak Wood Slats are not an assembly identified in Means and probably never will be. Architects in my opinion would still need to input custom information into the documents. The way we have talked about this is much like the "Master Mason" of history. Using the model to construct all of the assemblies and typical information possible but infusing it with the creativity and detailing unique to the architectural profession. Essentially we are the Master Craftsman showing the builders how the building is built (Paper is optional) but with a far greater resource at our fingertips.
Essentially what we aim to create in the model is a useable tool for a BIM capable construction or design build company to use for quicker more accurate estimate and quantity takeoff, export a pretty decent set of specifications from the model and the ability to construct a relatively accurate BIM for 3D views, presentations and construction documentation.

I would personally suggest that CSI "own" the library (since they own the Uniformat code) if they would be willing to annually maintain, update and add additional information to such a library. Perhaps a non-profit group could receive, review and post new assembly data to a larger shared library website. That would be ideal, I know we wouldn't mind sharing our work!
Thanks and kindest regards,

BIM Director

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